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October 13, 2006

Doubts Raised about North Korean Nuke Test

Something doesn't pan out about North Korea's supposed nuclear test. We have seismic readings but still no indication of any radiation.

Results from an initial air sampling after North Korea's announced nuclear test showed no evidence of radioactive particles that would be expected from a successful nuclear detonation, a U.S. government intelligence official said Friday.

The test results do not necessarily mean the North Korean blast was not a nuclear explosion, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the sampling results.

Nonetheless, the readings reinforce uncertainty about the size and success of Monday's underground explosion, which North Korea has trumpeted as a nuclear test. It also keeps alive lingering questions about whether it was in fact a nuclear blast. Data from seismic sensors has already indicated the explosion was smaller than expected, but that is not a conclusive finding on the question of whether the explosion was nuclear.

There are three possibilities:

  1. It was a very small explosion used only as a "proof of concept."

  2. The North Koreans failed.

  3. The North Koreans faked the test.

I'm leaning towards #2. Their missile tests this summer were also duds. However, it is possible Kim Jong Il was tired of Iran getting so much attention for their nuclear program. He might have wanted the United States' attention focused squarely on him to advance his interests. So he could have ordered a few tons of conventional explosives blown up to fake a nuke test.

The lack of evidence emboldens China and Russia from voting for a tough resolution on the U.N. Security Council. Their thinking has to be if there's not that much of a threat no need for such drastic measures.

"N. Korea Air Sample has No Radioactivity"

"Did North Korea Fake It?"

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Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Foreign Affairs at 05:43 PM | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)