CTBTO Detects Radioactivity Consistent with North Korean Nuclear Test, announced Feb 2013

The CTBTO’s radionuclide network has made a significant detection of radioactive noble gases that could be attributed to the nuclear test announced by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 12 February 2013.

The detection was made at the radionuclide station in Takasaki, Japan, located at around 1,000 kilometres, or 620 miles, from the DPRK test site. Two isotopes of the radioactive noble gas xenon were identified, xenon-131m and xenon-133. Both of these isotope detections are reliable and provide information on the nuclear nature of the source.

The ratio of the detected xenon isotopes is consistent with a nuclear fission event occurring more than 50 days before the detection (nuclear fission can occur in both nuclear explosions and nuclear energy production). This coincides very well with announced nuclear test by the DPRK that occurred on 12 February 2013, 55 days before the measurement.

Using Atmospheric Transport Modelling (ATM), which calculates the three-dimensional travel path of airborne radioactivity on the basis of weather data, the DPRK test site was identified as a possible source for the emission.

Camera: Pablo Mehlhorn
Editing: Krzysztof Kolasinski
Producer: Kirstie Gregorich Hansen