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Abnormal radiation detected near intra-Korean border

SEOUL (AP) — Abnormally high radiation levels were detected near
the border between the two Koreas days after North Korea claimed to
have mastered a complex technology key to manufacturing a hydrogen
bomb, Seoul said Monday.
The Science Ministry said its
investigation ruled out a nuclear test by North Korea but failed to
determine the source of the radiation. It said there was no evidence of
a strong earthquake, which follows an atomic explosion.
On May
12, North Korea claimed its scientists succeeded in creating a nuclear
fusion reaction, a technology necessary to manufacture a hydrogen bomb.
In its announcement, the North did not say how it would use the
technology, only calling it a “breakthrough toward the development of
new energy.”

South Korean experts doubted the North actually made
such a breakthrough. Scientists around the world have been
experimenting with fusion for decades, but it has yet to be developed
into a viable energy alternative.
On May 15, however, the
atmospheric concentration of xenon — an inert gas released after a
nuclear explosion or and radioactive leakage from a nuclear power plant
— on the South Korean side their shared border was found to be eight
times higher than normal, according to South Korea’s Science Ministry.
South
Korea subsequently looked for signs of a powerful, artificially induced
earthquake. Experts, however, found no signs of a such a quake in North
Korea, a ministry statement said.
“We determined that there was no possibility of an underground nuclear test,” it said. The ministry said the gas is not harmful.
While
any fusion test would have registered seismic activity, according to
nuclear expert Whang Joo-ho of South Korea’s Kyung Hee University, the
presence of xenon could also have come from a leak.
Since the
wind was blowing from north to south when the xenon was detected, a
Science Ministry official said the gas could not have originated from
any nuclear power plants in South Korea.
But the official —
speaking on condition of anonymity, citing department policy — said
the xenon could have come from Russia or China. Mr. Whang agreed,
saying a nuclear test or radioactive leakage would be the only reasons
that could explain the atmospheric concentration of xenon reported by
the ministry.