Seoul: Seismic activity has been detected in North Korea with an earthquake measuring 4.9 registered by the US Geological Survey. North Korea is not prone to seismic activity and it could possibly indicate that the country has carried out a promised nuclear test.
The quake occurred at 11:57 am Korean time (0257 GMT) and South Korea's presidential office said that it was "likely" a nuclear test, according to the South's Yonhap news agency. The USGS said the epicentre of the quake, which was only one km deep, was close to the North's known nuclear test site.
North Korea, which is banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions from developing nuclear and missile technology, did not issue a statement and it was impossible to verify that it was a nuclear test.
North Korea had successfully launched a long-range rocket in December in violation of UN resolutions that banned it from developing missile or nuclear technology after nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
It had said that it has the sovereign right to launch rockets for peaceful purposes. Its widely trailed third nuclear test was announced in response to the sanctions agreed in January, although satellite imagery indicates that the isolated and impoverished state has been readying its nuclear test site for more than a year.
While most experts believed North Korea will stage a test, the timing was not known. It was reported that the test could come around February 16, the anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-il's birth.