Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

January 29, 2013

Confirming North Korean N-test almost impossible

(Continued)

But this is at best a strong indication of a test and not an absolute confirmation.

An earthquake expert at the state-run Korea Meteorological Administration said his office aims to find out the magnitude of the tremor, the time it started and the exact location on the map within 10 minutes of the explosion. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.

Experts also note that artificial earthquakes, such as those created by nuclear explosions, rarely trigger the same wave patterns as natural quakes.

North Korea could also try to deceive and give the impression that it exploded a nuclear device by simply exploding sophisticated conventional weapons that would trigger the same seismic waves produced by a nuclear test, said Chi Heoncheol, an earthquake specialist at the government-funded Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources.

By raising tensions this way, North Korea may hope to wrest concessions or aid in return for promises to scale back its unproven nuclear capability.

"Even if they bring truckloads of high-powered conventional explosives, put them (into an underground tunnel) and explode them, they will generate the same seismic wave and sound wave," Chi said. The only difference is no radioactivity would be detected from the explosion of conventional weapons, he said.

The best course for scientists would be to collect air samples to look for increased radiation but the process could take days. Even if the wind is favorable — and assuming North Korea conducts the test at Punggye-ri in the country's northeastern corner — it will take more than one day for airborne radioactive isotopes like xenon to reach South Korea, according to an official at the government-run Nuclear Safety and Security Commission.

The official, who requested anonymity citing the sensitive nature of the subject, acknowledged it may be impossible to confirm a test if the wind doesn't blow southward or if North Korea plugs the underground tunnel so tightly that no radioactive gas escapes.

Text Only
National and World
Local News
AP Video
Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire Flight to Tel Aviv From US Diverted to Paris AP Review: Amazon Fire Adds Spark to Smartphones Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Raw: Massive Fire Burns in North Dakota Town Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law
Sister Newspapers' News