2010 North Korea nuke bomb ‘tests’ probably false alarms, says study

Pyongyang, Oct. 10: A Swedish scientist had recently sparked international concern with a journal article that said radioactive particles detected in 2010 showed North Korea had set off at least two small nuclear blasts, but a new paper has said that the tests likely never took place, or that if they did, they were too tiny to have any military significance.

The new report, by seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, will be published in the Journal Science and Global Security, where the earlier paper also appeared.

It is generally accepted that North Korea carried out at least two nuclear test explosions, in 2006 and 2009. The Lamont scientists studied both those blasts via the seismic waves they generated.

In August, defense analysts warned that North Korea had made significant progress on a plant to produce highly enriched uranium, suitable for bombs.

“The recent claim of nuclear testing in 2010 has led to publicity that could be very dangerous at a time when so much belligerence is in the air,” Paul G. Richards, the co-author of the new paper, said.

Richards and his co-authors, seismologists David P. Schaff and Won-Young Kim, in their paper said: “It is important to find confirming evidence for such a serious claim and thus build up support for it, or to find objective and contrary evidence and thus help make the case that the claim is invalid.”

The paper makes a detailed case that no explosion anywhere near the size of that hypothesized in 2010 could have taken place.

The paper said that the region is heavily seeded with some 100 seismic stations in both China and South Korea. The scientists said that a key qualifier is the assumption that an underground blast would be ‘well-coupled’ with surrounding rock, that is, not isolated in a hollowed-out cavity that would absorb much of the shock.

He said that the very best North Korea could have done was to light what he calls a ‘nuclear firecracker,’ a wimpy puff that would do nothing to advance a weapons program. (ANI)