Here is an update on the hunt to detect particles from the North Korean’s recent nuclear test:
U.S. and allied spy agencies have found no traces of telltale nuclear-related particles from North Korea’s Feb. 12 nuclear bomb test, leaving unresolved basic questions about the device’s design, according to officials in the United States, Europe and South Korea.
unanswered about the type of fissile material used in the test, which was detected by seismic sensors. It also leaves unaddressed questions about how far the North has advanced in its bomb design.
After the test, the U.S. Air Force Technical Applications Center in Florida dispatched WC-135 “sniffer” airplanes to look for traces of gas residue that could offer clues to the device’s design, but those efforts apparently turned up empty, the officials said.
An Air Force spokesperson confirmed that the planes were dispatched but said no results from the missions could be released. A U.S. intelligence official said analysis from the tests “was continuing.”
Based on seismic evidence, both officials and private experts say there is little doubt that the North Korean device was several times more powerful than those tested in 2006 and 2009.
While estimates of the explosive power of the latest test vary widely, most officials and experts estimate it was at least five kilotons, which is smaller than the power of the atomic bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima in World War Two.
In a statement about the test issued through its official news agency, North Korea declared that it had used “a miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously (and which) did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding ecological environment.”
One critical question is what kind of fissile material North Korea used in the latest test. [National Post]
You can read much more at the link, but as there continues to be no detection of nuclear particles from North Korea’s nuclear test, I am becoming more convinced that this was an unsophisticated plutonium-based bomb they exploded. Obviously they want outside observers to think they have advanced their nuclear technology, but made elaborate efforts to prevent outside observers from confirming it. To me this means they have something to hide which is likely they cannot back a uranium-based bomb and have not miniaturized the warhead yet.