No unusual radiation at N. Korean border, says China

North Koreans dance to celebrate what the country claims was a "successful hydrogen bomb" test at Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Jan 8, 2016.
North Koreans dance to celebrate what the country claims was a "successful hydrogen bomb" test at Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Jan 8, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • The Chinese government has mobilised more than 500 people to carry out round- the-clock monitoring for radiation along the border after North Korea said last week it had carried out its fourth nuclear test, but nothing abnormal has been found.

North Korea's test last Wednesday angered both the United States and China, which was not given prior notice, though the US government and weapons experts doubt the North's claim that the device it set off was a hydrogen bomb.

China's Environment Ministry said in a statement yesterday that more than 500 people were involved in monitoring for radiation, including about 350 people along the border itself, along with 37 fixed monitoring stations and 14 mobile ones.

It showed pictures on its website of a radiation-monitoring vehicle being driven along a snowy road along the border, and an official standing in the snow looking at technical equipment.

But the ministry had already "basically ruled out" the possibility that the test would have any radiation impact on China, and nothing abnormal had yet been found, it said.

The ministry was testing air, soil and snow samples, and would continue to test and maintain its current emergency response mechanism.

Residents close to the border last week told Reuters that they were concerned about the environmental effect of the test.

In Japan, there was also initial concern over potential radiation drifting across the sea. But Japan said late last week that it had detected no changes in radiation levels within its territory.

China, Pyongyang's main economic and diplomatic backer, has repeatedly expressed anger with the North over its nuclear tests and other sabre-rattling.

Beijing has signed up for tough United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang and insists it follows them, including carrying out border inspections, but it also provides large amounts of aid off the books to Pyongyang, experts and diplomats say.

The Chinese fear the North's nuclear programme would give the US a pretext to send weapons and forces to the region. But there are concerns that if China were to pull back support, it could destabilise the North and send refugees into China.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2016, with the headline 'No unusual radiation at N. Korean border, says China'. Print Edition | Subscribe