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North Korea may have tested Nuke

A large explosion occurred in the northern part of North Korea, sending a huge column of smoke into the air on an important anniversary of the communist regime, a South Korean news agency reported Sunday.
Blast, Mushroom Cloud Reported in N. Korea

SEOUL, South Korea - A large explosion occurred in the northern part of North Korea, sending a huge column of smoke into the air on an important anniversary of the communist regime, a South Korean news agency reported Sunday.

The South Korean government said it was trying to confirm the report of an explosion at 11 a.m. on Thursday in Yanggang province near the border with China.

The Yonhap news agency carried conflicting reports from unidentified sources, with one in Washington saying the incident could be related to a natural disaster such as a forest fire. It also cited a diplomatic source in Seoul as raising the possibility of an accident or a nuclear test.

Although North Korea is believed to be developing nuclear weapons, international experts would likely have been able to detect the test if one had occurred several days ago.

"We understand that a mushroom-shaped cloud about 3.5- to 4-kilometer (2.2 miles to 2.5 miles) in diameter was monitored during the explosion," the source in Seoul told Yonhap. Yonhap described the source as "reliable."

Thursday was the anniversary of North Korea's founding on Sept. 9, 1948. Leader Kim Jong Il uses the occasion to stage performances and other events to bolster loyalty among the impoverished North Korean population.

Experts have speculated that North Korea might use a major anniversary to conduct a nuclear-related test, but one analyst said an open test, as opposed to one below ground, would be hard in such a small country.

"It's difficult to say, but it won't be easy for North Korea to conduct a nuclear test without resulting in massive losses of its own people," said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert in Seoul. "I think there is a more possibility that it is a simple accident, rather than a deliberate nuclear test."

Yonhap's diplomatic source in Seoul said the explosion took place "not far" from a military base that holds ballistic missiles. North Korea, which has a large missile arsenal and more than a million soldiers, is dotted with military installations.

The damage and crater left by the explosion in Kim Hyong Jik county was big enough to be noticed by a satellite, a source in Beijing told Yonhap.

After a National Security Council meeting, South Korea's Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said the government was trying to confirm the report about the explosion. Asked about the possibility of a nuclear test, he said:

"I believe some foreign media made such reports. However, currently, we believe that it is not related to such reports."

On Saturday, North Korea said recent revelations that South Korea conducted secret nuclear experiments involving uranium and plutonium made the communist state more determined to pursue its own nuclear programs.

The South Korean experiments, conducted in 1982 and 2000, were likely to further complicate the already stalled six-nation talks aimed at dismantling the North's nuclear development. South Korea has said the experiments were purely for research and did not reflect a desire to develop weapons.

On April 22, train wagons at a railway station exploded in the North Korean town of Ryongchon, killing 160 people and injuring an estimated 1,300, according to some estimates. The blast was believed to have been sparked by a train laden with oil and chemicals that hit power lines.

The explosion on Thursday was bigger than the Ryongchon train explosion, which devastated a wide area, Yonhap said.

homepage: homepage: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&e=4&u=/ap/20040912/ap_on_re_as/nkorea_explosion

Powell Says.... 12.Sep.2004 08:16

yahoo

"Powell Says N. Korea Blast Not Nuclear ....."

Problem here is that this guy is not trust worthy




 http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040912/ap_on_re_as/nkorea_explosion&cid=516&ncid=716

My guess would be that it's not nuclear 12.Sep.2004 09:57

PHH

If it was nuclear, they would have been bragging about it and radiation and fallout would have been detected. Maybe they were trying to fake a nuclear explosion. With a nut like that, who knows.

Condi Says... 12.Sep.2004 10:14

dailygrind

That blast was actually a "forest fire" and therefore there was no blast. (CNN interview w/ Wolf Blitzer).

Problem here is that Condi is talking out of her ass.

Sen. Pat Roberts is claiming that the Korean nuke test was designed by the Koreans to sway the election in Kerry's favor!

Condi's not even a competent 12.Sep.2004 12:23

Bullshit Artist

Since when does a forest fire leave a crater?

No evidence 12.Sep.2004 13:29

Toe Tag

No seismic back-up for it being a nuke, and even the South Koreans (who would be likely to raise a fuss) are discounting the possibility. Could have been some dickhead smoking in an arms dump, or a re-run of the train explosion in April, which was either an accident or a blunderbuss asassination attempt on the Great Leader, depending on who you listen to. Mushroom clouds are not associated solely with nuclear detonations.

Great Coverage In S. Korean News 12.Sep.2004 13:31

@

According to this article, the blast has already been discussed before the National Security Council.

 http://english.yna.co.kr/Engnews/20040912/320000000020040912155022E9.html

(2nd LD) Seoul, Washington Rule out Nuclear Test in N.K. Blast

(ATTN: CHANGES lead, REWRITES 2nd-8th paras, Foreign Ministry official's comment in 12th para, comments by Korean embassy in Beijing in 17th para, COMBINES previous dispatches from Washington and New York)
SEOUL/BEIJING/WASHINGTON/NEW YORK, Sept. 12 (Yonhap) -- A large explosion reportedly occurred in northern North Korea on Sept. 9, but officials in Seoul and Washington dismissed possible links with the North's nuclear weapons program.

Diplomatic sources in Beijing and Seoul said on Sunday morning that a massive explosion, accompanied by a column of black smoke with a radius of about 3 kilometers, occurred in Kimhyongjik County in North Korea's northernmost inland province of Yanggang last Thursday.

Talks of a mushroom-like cloud allegedly spotted in the reported site of the explosion immediately triggered speculation that the North had carried out an atomic weapons test.

However, government officials in both Seoul and Washington said the possibility of a nuclear weapons test in North Korea is very slim.

A ranking official at the Unification Ministry said the South Korean government has not detected any signs of a nuclear test in the North Korean-Chinese border town.

"The National Security Council discussed North Korea's latest explosion this morning, but concluded that chances of its being linked with a nuclear experiment are very low," the official said. "It seems very difficult for the North to conduct a nuclear weapons test near its Chinese border."
In Washington, U.S. State Department officials also said they are "pretty sure" that a reported blast in North Korea three days ago was not a nuclear explosion or test.

"We've got no indication that anything of the sort (nuclear test) has happened. We believe these reports to be completely unfounded," said an official, who asked not to be named.

Earlier in the day, a Seoul diplomatic source said the Sept. 9 explosion, accompanied by a mushroom-like cloud, occurred at around 11 a.m., adding that it is not clear yet whether the explosion is related to an intentional nuclear experiment or a simple accident.

He noted that the site of the explosion and mushroom cloud
is not far from the North's Daepodong missile base.

Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said the government is trying to confirm whether or not a huge explosion occurred in North Korea. He said he was not aware of the scale of the blast and played down the possibility of a North Korean nuclear weapons test.

A high-ranking official at the Foreign Ministry said the government has not detected any signs of a nuclear weapons experiment in North Korea. North Korea's official news media have thus far made no mention of the alleged explosion.

Another reliable source in Beijing confirmed that a large explosion occurred in the North's border area last Thursday.

Sept. 9 was the 56th anniversary of the North's founding and the country's government had organized various arts performances and sporting events that included a pledge of loyalty to its leader Kim Jong-il.

The Chinese source said the explosion took place in Kimhyongjik County, near the Chinese border, saying it was probably bigger than the explosion that largely destroyed another North Korean border town, Ryongchon, on April 22.

"The explosion was reportedly bigger than the one in Ryongchon," the Beijing source said. "The United States has also shown strong interest in the Sept. 9 explosion after spotting its traces by satellite. Washington also seems to suspect that the explosion was possibly related to a nuclear experiment."
An official at the South Korean embassy in Beijing said he has yet to obtain concrete information on the matter. "We will stay in contact with the Chinese authorities over the North Korean explosion," the official said. "In case the reports of the explosion are found to be true, we will immediately discuss taking countermeasures."
Noting that Kimhyongjik County is home to the North's key military facilities, the official said that if the explosion is confirmed, the embassy will focus its attention on its political background.

Kimhyongjik County, a mountainous area bordering China, lies next to Jian City in the northern Chinese province of Jilian, where millions of ethnic Koreans reside. Yanggang Province, several hundred kilometers northeast of Pyongyang, is also surrounded by North Korea's Jagang Province and North and South Hamgyeong provinces.

Kimhyongjik County, with an average elevation of 990 meters above sea level, reportedly has military facilities for launching Daepodong missiles.

In New York, a U.N. diplomatic source said North Korea's nuclear weapons program could be immediately referred to the U.N. Security Council if signs of its nuclear test are confirmed.

The source said on condition of anonymity that the U.N. Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency will take action on North Korea if the communist country carries out a nuclear weapons test.

But the source said no conclusive evidence has been secured
that the North had conducted such a test or will carry one out soon.

On Sept. 2, Rep. Park Jin of the main opposition Grand National Party quoted some U.S. sources as saying that North Korea may conduct a nuclear weapons test in October, one month ahead of the U.S. presidential election.

The possibility of a North Korean nuclear test was reportedly
first mentioned by a high-ranking U.S. administration official to
a senior American journalist in late August and the U.S. conveyed its concerns to North Korean officials in Washington.

At that time, Park said he heard the rumor of the possible test from officials of the Wall Street Journal and confirmed the "October surprise" with U.S. officials.

Reports of the so-called "October surprise" gained momentum in the U.S. as American officials drew attention to the recent resurgence of the words "nuclear deterrent force" in North Korean statements.

Last year, North Korea said it had finished reprocessing about
8,000 spent fuel rods and diverted plutonium from them to strengthen its "nuclear deterrent."
South Korea confirmed that the North had reprocessed a small portion of the spent fuel rods and had conducted 70 experimental detonations of high explosives used in nuclear warheads.

The nuclear dispute broke out in October 2002 when U.S. officials said North Korea had admitted running a secret uranium-based nuclear weapons program in breach of a 1994 deal under which Pyongyang agreed to freeze and eventually dismantle its plutonium-based bomb program.

(END)


Seismic Activity Detected from Blasts 12.Sep.2004 14:27

JoongAng Daily

Consistent with a nuclear test...

 http://joongangdaily.joins.com/200409/12/200409122230437009900090209021.html

Mystery explosions rock North Korea

Two massive explosions took place in North Korea's border area with China on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, Roh administration officials revealed yesterday, confirming earlier reports from Beijing. Thursday was the anniversary of the 1948 foundation of North Korea's communist regime.
The first official confirmation of the incidents came from Chung Dong-young, head of the National Security Council, during a media briefing yesterday morning. "I was informed about the explosions and am in the process of confirming the incidents," Mr. Chung said, but dismissed the possibility that Pyeongyang had undertaken a nuclear test. Another Roh administration official added. "It would be absurd for the North to conduct a nuclear test near the Chinese border."
"Around 11 p.m. on Wednesday and 1 a.m. on Thursday, mysterious explosions took place in the area of Kimhyeongjik county in Yanggang province near the Chinese border," said a senior Seoul official. "At this point, we are trying to find out the exact cause and damage."
Reuters newswire quoted U.S. State Department officials as saying that the blasts were unlikely to be nuclear weapons tests.
The Seoul official said two South Korean intelligence agencies had detected and confirmed the explosions almost simultaneously. "We had some aerial photos and briefed President Roh Moo-hyun about the situation," the official said.
"Immediately after the blasts, a concussion of 2.6 on the Richter scale was detected," the official said. "Some are talking about a possible nuclear test, but our image data show that there was no mushroom-shaped cloud, a sign of a nuclear test." The statement contradicted an earlier report from Yonhap News Agency that a mushroom-shaped cloud about 3.5 to 4 kilometers in diameter was monitored at the explosion.
The Science Ministry said its 37 radioactive monitors nationwide showed no sign of nuclear dust, an indication of a ground nuclear detonation.
Another Roh administration official said last week's explosions were larger in scale than the blast at Yongcheon train station in April. That accident killed 150 and injured 1,300. More than 8,000 lost homes.
South Korean officials, however, were unsure whether the explosions were accidents or not.
Sources in Seoul said the intelligence community believes that North Korea has a secret missile base in the area. "It is possible that accidents happened at an underground munitions factory or in a weapons storage area," a senior official said.
The site of last week's explosions is a traffic hub , but is sparsely populated.


by Park Shin-hong, Ser Myo-ja < myoja@joongang.co.kr>


U.S. Withholds Blast Data 12.Sep.2004 14:28

JoongAng Daily

The South Korean government used its own seismic monitors and air reconnaissance to detect the two explosions that occurred last week near North Korea's border with China, government officials said.
The United States provided no information to South Korea on the blasts in Kimhyeongjik county, Yanggang province, they said.
Intelligence aides said that U.S. data &#8213; which would be critical to decipher what happened on Wednesday and Thursday &#8213; were not handed over to the U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Command. Several South Korean intelligence officials said that normally the United States would have delivered time-sequenced analyses of the explosion North Korea, but that such information was not made available.
Instead, South Korea reviewed images taken by reconnaissance planes using a long-distance radar network, seismological detection and from photos taken by domestic and foreign commercial satellites.
"We got the first tip of the news from the photo images from Arirang 1 satellite," said a South Korean government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "The Korea Meteorological Administration's measuring of a 2.6 on the Richter scale also helped."
Not possessing a satellite, as the United States does over North Korea, South Korea gets photo images taken by a long-distance radar network of reconnaissance planes that travel up to certain point close to North Korean air space. To date, that certain point had been Cheongjin River, but Kimhyeongjik county is situated far north of the Cheongjin River.
President Roh Moo-hyun was notified of the explosion on Thursday. But further efforts to find out more about the explosions have been hampered by heavy cloud cover.
The official said that the South Korea government has officially requested cooperation from the United States, although it remains unclear when the request was made.
The official also said that the United States is cooperating, but no one would say definitively as to what extent the United States and South Korea were sharing information. This inability to shed light on the nature and aftermath of the explosion was a chief reason the South Korean National Security Council was unable to come to a definite conclusion at its Sunday meeting.
South Korean government officials said that they do not expect information to flow in from China, as it did after the April 22 explosion in Yongcheon, North Korea, since Kimhyeongjik county is an isolated inland mountainous area.

by Ahn Seong-kyu, Kim Ji-soo < tarzan@joongang.co.kr>


in related news: North Korea says explosion was a planned demolition 13.Sep.2004 13:32

god is dead because we killed him

(09-13) 09:32 PDT SEOUL, South Korea (AP) --

North Korea said Monday that an explosion last week that raised a huge mushroom cloud was the planned demolition of a mountain for a hydroelectric project, and the reclusive government invited a British diplomat to visit the site to confirm the story.

The North's explanation came as a number of officials and experts from the United States and elsewhere said they did not believe the blast Thursday near the Chinese border -- which raised a cloud more than two miles wide -- was a nuclear test.

But a Bush administration official said the United States has indications that the North is trying to conduct a test. The explosion and concerns over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions set off a heated back-and-forth between the White House and Democratic rival John Kerry.

North Korea denounced the speculation over a nuclear test as part of a "smear campaign" against it, aimed at diverting world attention away from new revelations about past South Korean nuclear activities.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a U.S. official said it isn't clear what happened. While the official said there isn't any reason to believe it was a nuclear test, the official also couldn't confirm the North Koreans explanation that it was linked to the construction of a hydroelectric project.

A U.N. official, who asked for anonymity, said the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization -- a U.N. body that monitors explosions worldwide for signs of nuclear activity through an international network of sensing devices -- had not picked any signs that the explosion was a nuclear blast.

The North's official news agency KCNA explained the explosion saying "blastings at construction sites of hydro-power stations in the north of Korea" had taken place.

North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun told the same to visiting British Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell.

In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., Rammell said Paek told him the blast "wasn't an accident, that it wasn't a nuclear explosion, that it was a deliberate detonation of a mountain as part of a hydroelectric project."

Rammell welcomed the explanation and said that the North Koreans "have nothing to fear and nothing to hide and should welcome the international community actually verifying the situation for themselves."

North Korea told Britain's ambassador in Pyongyang, David Slinn, that he can visit the blast site as soon as Tuesday to verify its claims, the Press Association of Britain reported.

South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said his country would look into "whether that area is an area for constructing a hydroelectric power plant," according to the news agency Yonhap.

Andrew Kennedy, head of the Asia program at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said the North Korean explanation has "a ring of truth to it" and that if diplomats allowed to the site take a Geiger counter with them they would easily know whether a nuclear blast occurred.

"The North Koreans would know that with the intelligence and the surveillance satellites that the West has, it would be very easy to check. That is backed up by the North's agreement to allow the visiting British diplomat to go to the site and inspect it," he said Monday.

"North Korea is usually trying to convince people that they do have a nuclear capability. ... It's not in their interest to keep a nuclear test quiet," he added.

There was no comment from the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose inspectors were told to leave North Korea after it quit the Nonproliferation Treaty last year.

The size of the reported explosion on the 56th anniversary of the founding of North Korea had raised speculation that it might be a nuclear test. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday there was no indication the blast was from a test.

Kerry, the Democratic president candidate, said that just the idea that the United States was thinking North Korea might test a nuclear weapon highlights a national security failure by Bush. Under Bush's watch, North Korea has advanced its nuclear program, he said.

"North Korea's nuclear program is well ahead of what Saddam Hussein was even suspected of doing -- yet the president took his eye off the ball, wrongly ignoring this growing danger," Kerry said in a statement. "What is unfolding in North Korea is exactly the kind of disaster that it is an American president's solemn duty to prevent."

In a telephone call Sunday evening to The New York Times, Kerry accused the administration of letting "a nuclear nightmare" develop by refusing to deal with North Korea when it first came to office, the paper reported on its Internet site.

Responding to NYT story, Bush spokesman Scott McClellan accused Kerry of wanting to return to "the failed Clinton administration policy" on North Korea. He said that while Clinton's 1994 agreement with North Korea calling for a freeze fell apart, Bush is trying to rally North Korea's neighbors to pressure the country to abandon its nuclear activities.

"That failed policy let North Korea dupe the united States. It would be the wrong approach to go down that road again," McClellan said.

The North's KCNA news agency denounced the speculation of a test as "a preposterous smear campaign" and a "fabrication intended to divert elsewhere the world public attention focused on the nuclear-related issue of South Korea for which they are now finding themselves in a dire fix."

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Monday chided South Korea, expressing "strong concern" that Seoul had not informed the agency of its nuclear activities. He revealed that Seoul produced more than 300 pounds of uranium metal in the 1980s at three secret facilities.

It then used some of that metal in nuclear enrichment experiments using laser technology conducted in 2000.

Diplomats said the use of the metals developed earlier raised doubts over Seoul's explanation that the 2000 experiments were carried out by a group of renegade scientists without government authorization.

The revelations have complicated efforts to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions. On Saturday, North Korea said the South's activity made the communist state more determined to pursue its own nuclear programs.

 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2004/09/13/international1232EDT0532.DTL