UN body: North Korea tremor "very close" to 2006 test site (2nd Lead)
May 25, 2009, 10:44 GMT
Vienna - The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) said Monday's tremor in North Korea was only a few kilometres away from the nuclear test site of 2006 - but CTBTO chief Tibor Toth stopped short of confirming an atomic test.
Earlier on Monday, a diplomat close to the Vienna-based organization told the German Press Agency dpa that the tremor with the magnitude 4.5 on the Richter scale was not an earthquake, but a man-made explosion.
Although the CTBTO says it has not drawn conclusions yet from the data picked up by 39 of its seismic stations around the globe, Executive Secretary Toth said there were 'some contextual elements' that were being considered.
'It's very, very close to the 2006 event,' Toth said, possibly less than 5 kilometres southeast, according to a map shown to reporters after CTBTO members had been briefed about the event which North Korea announced as a further nuclear test.
Also, earthquakes are very rare in North Korea, he said.
Meanwhile, Russia's Defence Ministry on Monday confirmed that North Korea had conducted a subterranean nuclear test with a strength of between 10 and 20 kilotons.
But according to CTBT, the yield would have been only in the 'low kiloton range.'
After the test in October 2006, Russia initially estimated a 5-kiloton explosion, which is now widely believed to have been below 1 kiloton.
CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Toth said that 'today's nuclear test claimed by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) constitutes a threat to international peace and security and to the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime.'
The Hungarian diplomat said he was 'gravely concerned' about North Korea's step, which 'deserves universal condemnation.'
The United Nations Security Council is set to hold an emergency meeting on Monday.
CTBTO experts hope that in addition to its seismic stations, its chemical detectors will pick up nuclear particles or chemicals released in the explosion, as was the case after the 2006 test.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude as equivalent to a 4.7 earthquake, which occurred at 0054 GMT at a location 380 kilometres north-east of Pyongyang.