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Korean Authorities, "No Signs of Nuclear Test"

Posted September. 12, 2004 21:52,   


Government officials acted without pause immediately after being informed of the explosion in Yanggangdo, and National Security Council (NSC) staff have been on emergency standby through the weekend. Yesterday Unification Minister Chung Dong-young hosted an NSC standing committee meeting to discuss countermeasures fully.

Officials said the details of the situation are still not understood clearly. As satellite pictures are not helpful due to bad weather on the Korean peninsula and the site of explosion is trackless, even information on casualties is lacking.

The government is characterizing the incident as an apparent “large-scale accident,” but not as a nuclear experiment. Chung said in a press conference after yesterday’s meeting, “I got a briefing that there were signs of an explosion. But no signs of a nuclear test were found.”

According to be known, the government rather considers it “not as a nuclear test” because there appeared no sign before and after the nuclear experiment even though it does not recognize the exact content and scale of the accident.

A Foreign Ministry official said, “Related equipment needs to be set up beforehand, and many wirings need for the nuclear test, but such movements have not been detected so far.”

An official of the Korea Meteorological Administration also explained, “A related seismic wave would be perceived if there was a nuclear test either above the ground or underground. But no such wave was measured around Sept. 9 when the explosion is said to have happened.”

To some media’s reports that “a mushroom cloud 3 to 4 kilometers in diameter appeared,” a high official in Cheong Wa Dae responded, “The weather was a bit cloudy at the time of the accident and many clouds were mixed. We are carrying out a close analysis.”

A staff in the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis explained, “A mushroom cloud is seen in all large-scale explosions, not only in a nuclear explosion. It is related to the scale of an explosion, not to the cause or characteristics of the explosion.”

A vice-minister of the Unification department, Lee Bong-jo, said, “The truth of this accident should be announced basically by the North Korea. In general, it usually announces the happening of accidents after some time.”

Ho-Won Choi taewon-ha@donga.com bestiger@donga.com