What happens when North Korea tests a nuclear weapon

The first hint the world gets of a North Korean nuclear test is seismic activity.

What appears to be an earthquake on the Korean Peninsula is registered by monitoring sites around the globe.

We know something is up because there are no major fault lines in North Korea.

The test shows up because, like earthquakes, a nuclear blast sends a jolt of energy into the Earth, generating elastic waves, according to the UC Berkeley Seismology Lab.

The United States Geological Survey and other earthquake monitors will pick up on the difference very quickly, as nuclear tests are much more shallow than earthquakes.

And the seismic waveforms of the two look very different.

The first seismic waves from explosions, or primary waves (P waves), are typically stronger. The secondary waves (S waves) are weaker.

With an earthquake, it’s the opposite: The primary waves are weaker and the secondary waves and stronger secondary waves.

Clues before a test

North Korea has one nuclear test site: Punggye-ri.

In the long-term lead-up to the test, there’s usually a flurry of activity, some of which is captured by satellite imagery and can offer clues to observers on what’s going on.

Analysts at North Korea-tracking project 38 North released images showing the test site was “primed and ready” back in April.

Over time they compare images to look for things like:

Water being pumped out of tunnels to keep the area dry for communications and monitoring equipment. Construction materials like sand and concrete. Odd textures on the ground may indicate cables have been laid. Specialized rail cars and trucks can be seen Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, possibly to ferry radioactive material.

In the days leading up to the test, it’s often quiet. That could mean the facility is just operating as usual. It could also mean that everything is ready for a nuclear test, and Pyongyang is waiting for the opportune moment to go. Tests are usually timed for maximum political impact.

It should be noted that conclusions based on satellite imagery can be highly speculative.

“North Korea clearly understands that the world is watching and is undoubtedly, at some level, attempting to manipulate reporting,” 38 North says.

Boom

Here’s where things get murky.

It’s nearly impossible to get good, detailed information on each blast. Unlike missile tests, nuclear blasts are detonated underground, so not a lot can be observed from the outside world.

When a projectile is fired into the sky, trajectory can be analyzed. Photographs of launches released by Pyongyang show details like the color of the flame, the size of the missile and the launch platform. All of those offer invaluable insights. But Pyongyang does not release images of nuclear blasts.

After its fifth nuclear test in late 2016, North Korea claimed it successfully tested a nuclear warhead that could be placed on a missile.

A series of photos released in March 2016 showed Kim inspecting what the North Koreans claimed was a miniaturized nuclear weapon.

Analysts call it the disco ball, and the reveal led to a flurry of speculation about the purported weapon itself and North Korea’s nuclear capabilities as a whole.

But short of inviting weapons experts to observe the test, the only way the world could verify that claim is if North Korea actually used the weapon, analysts say.

The magnitude of the seismic activity after each blast, however, hints at the power of the explosion — including that fifth nuclear test.

South Korea’s Meteorological Administration said the blast from the fifth test was estimated to have had the explosive power of 10 kilotons, which would make it less powerful than “little boy,” the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima.

Reactions

After a test, the US, South Korea and Japan respond quickly.

To confirm the test, the US sends its WC-135 jet — dubbed the “radiation sniffer” — to monitor air samples off the Korean Peninsula to confirm whether a nuclear blast has occurred. Two of the jets operate out of an Air Force base in Nebraska. They’ll also take air samples from ground stations in the area.

Japan and South Korea have their own radiation-monitoring networks.

Japan could send jets to collect dust to check for radiation.

On the political front, all three countries are quick to condemn the tests as a violation of international law. The UN Security Council will weigh in too.

China, North Korea’s most important partner, has also started recently decrying the nuclear tests — Beijing says it’s committed to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

And it almost always “calls for restraint from all sides,” be it a nuclear or missile test.

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Bodies thought to be missing Thai students pulled from car

Search-and-rescue teams in California retrieved the bodies of two people missing for weeks after a car swerved off a road in the Sierra Nevada and plunged into a raging river, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said.

The two are presumed to be Pakapol Chairatnathrongporn, 28, and Thiwadee Saengsuriyarit, 24 — both exchange students at the University of South Florida.

The car went through a guardrail and crashed 500 feet off a cliff into the Kings River on July 26. The red 2016 Hyundai Sonata rented by the students had been “stuck against a rock,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post.

Authorities used aerial photography to confirm that two people were dead in the car. Unsafe conditions in the raging river delayed the rescue operation.

Crews retrieved the bodies Friday in a recovery operation after they determined that conditions were safe to do so, the sheriff’s office said.

A helicopter put personnel and equipment in a gorge on both sides of the river. A deputy “made his way out to the car” and attached it to a cable from a winch.

The winch pulled the car “a short distance into slower moving water. This made conditions much safer for deputies to access the car. The team then used tools to get inside the car and were able to free both bodies,” the office said.

The bodies were put on a helicopter and flown to the roadside.

“Family members met the transport team at Convict Flat Campground where they were able to perform a short ritual,” the sheriff’s office said.

The car has been left in a canyon and will be recovered later.

The sheriff’s office said “positive identifications of the bodies have not been made yet” and the coroner’s office “will make those determinations during the autopsy process.”

The Thai community in California had expressed frustration over the slow rescue process. “The families are devastated,” Thai Consul General Tanee Sangrat said.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims thanked the Thai Consulate in Los Angeles and the Thai community “for its support throughout this operational planning phase. Having an open line of communication and knowing you were by our side was invaluable.”

“I would like to thank the families of the victims for their patience and understanding during this long, difficult process. It’s always been our goal to deliver peace to you so that you could hold the necessary services for your loved ones. Hopefully you may now move forward in the healing process,” she said.

In an unrelated incident reported in the sheriff’s Facebook post, authorities located another vehicle downstream from the Hyundai. That car, which crashed last month, is thought to belong to a missing Chinese couple, but it has not been confirmed. Rescue teams are waiting for better river conditions to access the vehicle.

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How refugees are driving Germany’s cricket renaissance

Nooruddin Mujaddady tries not to think about the events that led him to flee Afghanistan.

The death threats against his family back home, the grueling months-long journey to Europe, and the anxiety of his new life in Germany are constant weights on his mind. When he can, Mujaddady prefers to focus on cricket.

Standing on Berlin’s Maifeld sports ground during a recent finals day of the German Cricket Federation’s nationwide Super Series, the 25-year-old told CNN that when he plays cricket he doesn’t think of “anything else — just cricket and sport”. 

Once banned by the Nazis, who wanted Germany to concentrate on athletics, cricket is enjoying a renaissance because of the country’s high levels of immigration. 

Some of the best cricketing talent was on display at the Maifeld, once the scene of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini’s 1937 rally.

Like Mujaddady, many of those competing have come from Afghanistan and Pakistan, fleeing war, violence and political persecution.

Mujaddady arrived in Germany two years ago after traveling from Afghanistan, through Pakistan and on to Europe via car, bus and foot.

At first, Germany was a faceless stranger. But slowly Mujaddady says he’s adapting to his new surroundings in Rheinsberg, a picturesque city in the northeast of the country.

Playing cricket has given him a new community, a group of friends and the opportunity to feel part of something again, he says.

“Here in Germany I’m like a child,” Mujaddady told CNN.

“I am taking it slowly, step by step. Cricket has helped me to feel better about everything and allowed me to relax.”

 Escaping the past

An experienced cricket player in Afghanistan, Mujaddady was introduced to a local club by a social worker six months after his arrival in Germany. 

His tale is shared by other migrants. Between 2015 and the end of July, 171,491 Afghan nationals have claimed asylum in Germany, according to government figures. A total of 26,644 people have successfully applied for asylum after fleeing Pakistan.

In the past two years, the number of people playing cricket in Germany on a regular basis has increased from 2,800 to 5,500.

There are now more than 300 clubs across the country — up from 130 in 2015 — and it’s not just in cities like Berlin. 

‘We are playing cricket everywhere’

For Brian Mantle, chief executive of the German Cricket Federation, the landscape has completely changed since he arrived in Germany from England in 1996.

“It is really growing by the week. Just this week we had two or three inquiries from clubs up and down the country,” he told CNN. 

“…we are not just playing cricket in the big cities, we are playing cricket everywhere. Small towns are getting cricket teams. It used to be just in Berlin, Hamburg, Bonn, Cologne and places like that. Now it’s really everywhere where cricket is being played.”

While Mantle oversees the national team, he also takes a hands-on role when it comes to grassroots cricket. 

He views the sport as the perfect tool to help those coming to terms with their new life to find others who are experiencing something similar. 

At clubs across the country, he says friendships are being forged, stories are shared, problems are halved. 

“The first level is to make these people feel comfortable here and to be happy,” Mantle said. 

“They are playing cricket against people from all over the world: There are Germans here, Indians, Pakistanis, English people, and it gives them the opportunity to just be a normal person. 

“Out on the street they are maybe treated in a different way, but here they are just normal cricket players like everybody else. It helps them to be happy. This is the first step into integration.” 

The passion and enthusiasm are contagious. The German national side, which has benefited from the influx of new players, has made impressive strides.

Most recently, it won the European Region Division One title and will take part in the World Cricket League Division Five in Johannesburg, South Africa, starting next week.

The competition will pit Germany against teams from across the world such as Qatar, Ghana and Vanuatu, all developing cricketing nations.

But it is the sport’s impact on new arrivals that has been attracting more attention.  

‘A better life’

Irshad Ahmad, a 30-year-old from Pakistan, is the captain of a local cricket club. He fled his home town of Gujrat under political persecution, seeking asylum in Germany.

“I had to decide quickly,” Ahmad told CNN about his decision to leave Pakistan.

“I decided to come to Germany because… you can have a lot of opportunities, a better life and more security.”

Arriving in October 2015, he settled in Bautzen, in the east of the country, where he has a voluntary job as a translator. 

“When we play cricket here in Germany, it is a marvelous feeling. We can forget about the difficulties and problems which we suffered during our journeys,” he said. 

“‘It is really a very nice experience when we are together with the guys and we play the game we love the most in our lives.” 

New friends, new experiences, and a feeling of belonging — like Mujaddady, Ahmad is beginning to feel at home in Germany. 

While he may return to Pakistan one day, there is no rush right now.

“It is all about your fate,” he said. “It is my country now. I live here, I eat here, I breathe here, I drink here. This is also my country.”

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US, South Korea set to revise bilateral missile treaty

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Donald Trump have agreed “in principle” to revise a bilateral treaty that limits the weight and range of the South’s ballistic missiles.The move could give South Korea more independence from the United S…

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‘There is genocide going on there’: Rohingya huddle on Bangladesh border

They have come in their thousands, crossing hills and rivers, marshes and rice paddies for the chance to cross into Bangladesh and escape the mass killings they say are being perpetrated against their people.

The UN estimates that, in just one week, almost 50,000 Rohingya — a stateless, ethnic Muslim minority who largely inhabit Myanmar’s western Rakhine state — have fled escalating violence.

Refugees tell CNN the Myanmar army attacked them. The government blames “terrorists” for initiating the violence.

Around 27,000 refugees have crossed into Bangladesh since last Friday, and a further 20,000 remain stuck in no-man’s land between the two East Asian nations.

On Thursday, the bodies of 20 Rohingya were pulled out of the Naf River along the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh. Twelve of the dead were children.

Beaten, shot at, hacked to death

The testimonies of Rohingya sheltering in overcrowded Bangladeshi refugee camps are harrowing.

“They are beating us, shooting at us and hacking our people to death,” Hamida Begum, one refugee who has left everything behind in a desperate attempt to flee with at least their lives, told CNN.

“Many people were killed. Many women were raped and killed. We are very poor. My husband is a day laborer,” she said.

“Begum” is an honorific given to some Muslim women, while others use it to replace their last name upon marriage.

“We used to have two square meals a day. But we lost everything after the war started,” she said, referring to the outbreak of violence last Friday when Rohingya militants staged co-ordinated attacks on border posts, killing 12 security officers.

In response, the military intensified “clearance operations,” driving thousands of people from their homes.

Government officials said Thursday that at least 399 people had been killed in fighting since last Friday. Of those, 370 were “terrorists,” they said. However, activists say the military has killed women, children and innocent men.

Both sides also blame each other for torching houses. The government says Rohingya militants have burned down more than 2,300 homes. The Rohingya says it’s the military that has attacking their houses.

Begum alleges that her family was tortured by the military and their accomplices, and that others were killed after failing to pay the soldiers a ransom.

“We had to flee to save our lives. They don’t allow us to move freely. We were deprived of everything… They are picking up people from home and asking them for ransom. Many of (those people) were shot dead.”

CNN can’t independently verify the stories of those who fled, and the Myanmar government has not responded to a request for comment.

Aid organizations and the UN have slammed the Myanmar government for its treatment of the group.

“Decades of persistent and systematic human rights violations, including the very violent security responses to the attacks since October 2016, have almost certainly contributed to the nurturing of violent extremism, with everyone ultimately losing,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Thursday.

‘Only the Rohingya are hated’

There are many ethnic groups in Myanmar “but only the Rohingya are hated by the government,” said Mohammad Harun, who was among those fleeing.

The Rohingya are a minority Muslim population in Myanmar, however they’re denied the right to citizenship despite having lived there for generations.

Another refugee interviewed by CNN said the military ordered them to stay inside their homes.

“If we stay inside then they set our houses on fire, shooting at us or slaughtering us,” Nobin Shuna says. “Muslims have no rights.”

She says the military came to her village last Friday and killed five people, including her son.

“They were tortured to death. Our houses were set on fire. We lost everything there,” she said.

“How could we survive? I have no money. After seeing the massacre, I traveled all the way to the Bangladesh border. I left my home four days ago. Now where would I go? My son was killed.”

And so now these thousands trek westwards, towards the relative safety of neighboring Bangladesh.

An estimated 200,000 to 500,000 Rohingya refugees already live a precarious existence here, most in squalid, overcrowded camps.

‘Disproportionate response’

Last year, as many as 85,000 Rohingya crossed the border following a similar spate of violence. The persecution of this people has been going on for decades, said Sally Smith, Executive Director of the Nexus Fund, an NGO committed to “preventing mass atrocities.”

“In the last few days, this is very similar to what happened in October, when you had a small-scale attack by a small number of Rohingya insurgents,” Smith told CNN.

“That led to a really disproportionate response by the Myanmar military against civilians, killing them, raping them, even firing machine guns at innocent men, women and children as they’re running toward the border to flee into Bangladesh.

“They’re burning down villages — it’s just not OK to attack civilians.”

She says that Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been “disappointing” in her refusal to condemn the attacks.

“She’s a Nobel peace prize winner and what it seems is happening is that she does care about peace for Buddhists, but not for the Rohingya.

“Right now she’s using language which is incredibly irresponsible and inflammatory, she’s saying that these are terrorists and that’s only going to increase what’s happening and the tensions that are rising and it’s going to give rise to civilian attacks against Rohingya as well.”

Suu Kyi has denied some of the more severe allegations made by rights organizations, including that ethnic cleansing is occurring in the region. But so far she has not made a strong public statement to condemn the attacks.

Homeless, hungry, hopeless

The journey itself to Bangladesh, refugees say, is arduous.

“We had walk a long a way. We had to cross hills, marshes and paddy fields to make the journey to Bangladesh border,” Rabeya Khatun said from Kutupalong unregistered camp, on the Bangladeshi side of the Naf River.

“I left my home eight days ago. I’ve reached here today.”

Now they’re safe from the military but still living a parlous existence.

“We have no food and no clothes. We are homeless,” said refugee Mohammed Harun. He says he cannot go back — the military has destroyed their food supplies, razed their homes.

“Everything, destroyed by the military. Now we are without food or blankets.”

“Genocide is going on there.”

Many left their homes with just the clothes on their backs, bringing with them only stories of murder, rape and villagers torched.

“I could not bring anything,” Romiza Begum says, her white hair peeking out from beneath her patterned headscarf, one of the items of clothing she had to accept as charity.

“These clothes were given (to me) by someone here. I asked for clothes. I lost everything. There is nothing left in my home in Burma. Everything is destroyed.”

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‘There is genocide going on there’: Rohingya huddle on Bangladesh border

They have come in their thousands, crossing hills and rivers, marshes and rice paddies for the chance to cross into Bangladesh and escape the mass killings they say are being perpetrated against their people.

The UN estimates that, in just one week, almost 50,000 Rohingya — a stateless, ethnic Muslim minority who largely inhabit Myanmar’s western Rakhine state — have fled escalating violence.

Refugees tell CNN the Myanmar army attacked them. The government blames “terrorists” for initiating the violence.

Around 27,000 refugees have crossed into Bangladesh since last Friday, and a further 20,000 remain stuck in no-man’s land between the two East Asian nations.

On Thursday, the bodies of 20 Rohingya were pulled out of the Naf River along the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh. Twelve of the dead were children.

Beaten, shot at, hacked to death

The testimonies of Rohingya sheltering in overcrowded Bangladeshi refugee camps are harrowing.

“They are beating us, shooting at us and hacking our people to death,” Hamida Begum, one refugee who has left everything behind in a desperate attempt to flee with at least their lives, told CNN.

“Many people were killed. Many women were raped and killed. We are very poor. My husband is a day laborer,” she said.

“Begum” is an honorific given to some Muslim women, while others use it to replace their last name upon marriage.

“We used to have two square meals a day. But we lost everything after the war started,” she said, referring to the outbreak of violence last Friday when Rohingya militants staged co-ordinated attacks on border posts, killing 12 security officers.

In response, the military intensified “clearance operations,” driving thousands of people from their homes.

Government officials said Thursday that at least 399 people had been killed in fighting since last Friday. Of those, 370 were “terrorists,” they said. However, activists say the military has killed women, children and innocent men.

Both sides also blame each other for torching houses. The government says Rohingya militants have burned down more than 2,300 homes. The Rohingya says it’s the military that has attacking their houses.

Begum alleges that her family was tortured by the military and their accomplices, and that others were killed after failing to pay the soldiers a ransom.

“We had to flee to save our lives. They don’t allow us to move freely. We were deprived of everything… They are picking up people from home and asking them for ransom. Many of (those people) were shot dead.”

CNN can’t independently verify the stories of those who fled, and the Myanmar government has not responded to a request for comment.

Aid organizations and the UN have slammed the Myanmar government for its treatment of the group.

“Decades of persistent and systematic human rights violations, including the very violent security responses to the attacks since October 2016, have almost certainly contributed to the nurturing of violent extremism, with everyone ultimately losing,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Thursday.

‘Only the Rohingya are hated’

There are many ethnic groups in Myanmar “but only the Rohingya are hated by the government,” said Mohammad Harun, who was among those fleeing.

The Rohingya are a minority Muslim population in Myanmar, however they’re denied the right to citizenship despite having lived there for generations.

Another refugee interviewed by CNN said the military ordered them to stay inside their homes.

“If we stay inside then they set our houses on fire, shooting at us or slaughtering us,” Nobin Shuna says. “Muslims have no rights.”

She says the military came to her village last Friday and killed five people, including her son.

“They were tortured to death. Our houses were set on fire. We lost everything there,” she said.

“How could we survive? I have no money. After seeing the massacre, I traveled all the way to the Bangladesh border. I left my home four days ago. Now where would I go? My son was killed.”

And so now these thousands trek westwards, towards the relative safety of neighboring Bangladesh.

An estimated 200,000 to 500,000 Rohingya refugees already live a precarious existence here, most in squalid, overcrowded camps.

‘Disproportionate response’

Last year, as many as 85,000 Rohingya crossed the border following a similar spate of violence. The persecution of this people has been going on for decades, said Sally Smith, Executive Director of the Nexus Fund, an NGO committed to “preventing mass atrocities.”

“In the last few days, this is very similar to what happened in October, when you had a small-scale attack by a small number of Rohingya insurgents,” Smith told CNN.

“That led to a really disproportionate response by the Myanmar military against civilians, killing them, raping them, even firing machine guns at innocent men, women and children as they’re running toward the border to flee into Bangladesh.

“They’re burning down villages — it’s just not OK to attack civilians.”

She says that Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been “disappointing” in her refusal to condemn the attacks.

“She’s a Nobel peace prize winner and what it seems is happening is that she does care about peace for Buddhists, but not for the Rohingya.

“Right now she’s using language which is incredibly irresponsible and inflammatory, she’s saying that these are terrorists and that’s only going to increase what’s happening and the tensions that are rising and it’s going to give rise to civilian attacks against Rohingya as well.”

Suu Kyi has denied some of the more severe allegations made by rights organizations, including that ethnic cleansing is occurring in the region. But so far she has not made a strong public statement to condemn the attacks.

Homeless, hungry, hopeless

The journey itself to Bangladesh, refugees say, is arduous.

“We had walk a long a way. We had to cross hills, marshes and paddy fields to make the journey to Bangladesh border,” Rabeya Khatun said from Kutupalong unregistered camp, on the Bangladeshi side of the Naf River.

“I left my home eight days ago. I’ve reached here today.”

Now they’re safe from the military but still living a parlous existence.

“We have no food and no clothes. We are homeless,” said refugee Mohammed Harun. He says he cannot go back — the military has destroyed their food supplies, razed their homes.

“Everything, destroyed by the military. Now we are without food or blankets.”

“Genocide is going on there.”

Many left their homes with just the clothes on their backs, bringing with them only stories of murder, rape and villagers torched.

“I could not bring anything,” Romiza Begum says, her white hair peeking out from beneath her patterned headscarf, one of the items of clothing she had to accept as charity.

“These clothes were given (to me) by someone here. I asked for clothes. I lost everything. There is nothing left in my home in Burma. Everything is destroyed.”

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