China's seismic service CENC on Saturday detected a zero-depth, 3.4-magnitude quake in North Korea, calling it a "suspected explosion".
China announced Saturday it will ban exports of some petroleum products to North Korea, as well as imports of textiles from the isolated North in compliance with a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution.
The natural disaster comes after days of increasingly bellicose rhetoric between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's regime over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions that has raised global alarm.
Another official at the the Korea Meteorological Administration's command center said it is believed to have been a natural quake.
They do, however, agree that the location of the natural disaster was near the site where the reclusive state conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3. The tremors from the North were reported a day after the state's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho suggested another nuclear test could be conducted by Pyongyang.
North Korea's Foreign Minister hit back hours later ranting at Trump branding him "a mentally deranged person full of megalomania" who is holding "the nuclear button".
However, the North never stopped its nuclear program, and instead has developed nuclear weapons-including a miniaturized nuclear warhead, according to an analysis by the Defense Intelligence Agency-and the missile technology needed to deliver it.
Warplanes released live weapons at a firing range in South Korea, the US Pacific Command said in a statement.
He added that, "none other than Trump himself is on a suicide mission", saying The Donald's insults made "our rocket's visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more".
The B-1B Lancer bombers and a F-15 fighter escorts were in global airspace over waters east of North Korea.
The additional sanctions on Pyongyang, including on its shipping and trade networks, showed Trump was giving more time for economic pressure to weigh on North Korea.
The president assured those in attendance, without details, that he would defend the US against any offensives launched by North Korea: "I can tell you one thing, you are protected, OK?"
China accounts for about 90 percent of North Korea's foreign trade. "In this case we saw none".
"Right now, I would say we are heading to war", said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, an organization that supports nuclear weapon reduction and eventual elimination.
The agency said it was analysing the nature of the quake and its initial view was that it was a natural tremor because no soundwaves specific to man-made earthquakes were detected.
In response, Tillerson said US diplomatic efforts would continue but all military options were still on the table. The USGS measured this month's nuclear test at magnitude 6.3. It will also ban imports of textiles from North Korea.
According to United Nations customs data, China sent 6,000 barrels a day of oil products to North Korea in 2016.
Under the sanctions China's Commerce Ministry announced today, exports of refined petroleum to the North will be limited to 2 million barrels per year and sales of liquefied natural gas banned outright, effective January 1.