It was the latest in a string of aftershocks following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on September 3, which caused a 6.3 magnitude natural disaster, according to the USGS.

A top aide to U.S. President Donald Trump expressed concern Thursday that North Korea’s nuclear weapons development program and a possible future nuclear threat from Iran may spark the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction around the world.

All six nuclear tests have been carried out in this location in the northwest tip of the country. “If it goes ahead with another test in this area, it could risk radioactive pollution”.

Pyongyang’s last known nuclear test occurred on 3 September but caused an quake which a much greater magnitude of 6.3 and drew widespread condemnation from the UN. According to 38 North, a Washington-based project which monitors North Korea, numerous landslides throughout the nuclear test site have been detected via satellite images after the sixth test.

“It’s likely that North Korea will conduct its next nuclear test in the stratosphere, or about 100 to 300 kilometers (60 to 185 miles) from the ground, where it will be able to conduct more powerful detonations”, Suh said. But some civilian experts said North Korea may stop using the site. “The recent small quakes suggest that the test might have triggered crust deformation”.

The tunnel used for Pyongyang’s first nuclear test had been shut down after that test, while a second tunnel had been used for the following five, the National Intelligence Service was cited as saying last month. Other experts said the quakes might have been caused by landslides or the collapsing of test structures such as tunnels. China is North Korea’s economic lifeline, and Beijing’s role in the sanctions effort is critical.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to confirm he had North Korea in mind last week when he described a gathering of military leaders as “the calm before the storm”.

The officials, who requested anonymity citing department rules, said they believe the four quakes probably happened because the underground nuclear test on September 3 weakened or affected the tectonic plate structures in the area.