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N. Korean nuclear test could be tricky to detect

Published on Feb 7, 2013 9:51 AM
A suspected nuclear test facility in North Hamgyong province, North Korea, is seen in this January 29, 2013 satellite image, courtesy of Google/DigitalGlobe. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - North Korea has vowed to carry out a third nuclear test, but scientists and concerned foreign governments may have a tough time verifying the actions of the reclusive state.

One critical question is whether North Korea uses uranium or plutonium.

North Korea's 2006 and 2009 tests involved plutonium, so a uranium detonation would prove that Kim Jong-Un's regime has opened an additional way to make bombs.

After foreign detection of its 2006 test, North Korea carried out its 2009 explosion deep underground, which gave scientists far less information. Most observers expect North Korea to be even more careful this time.

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