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What does North Korea's 'miniaturised' nuclear test reveal?

Published on Feb 12, 2013 3:20 PM

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea's nuclear test opens a rare, limited window for expert evaluation of its atomic weapons programme, with an added urgency lent by Pyongyang's claim to have detonated a "miniaturised" device.

Seismic monitors and "sniffer" planes capable of collecting radioactive evidence of Tuesday's test will provide the forensic material for analysts to try to determine the exact yield and nature of the underground explosion.

Pyongyang said the "high-level" test involved a "miniaturised and lighter atomic bomb" with a much greater yield than the plutonium devices it detonated in 2006 and 2009. Miniaturisation is needed to fit a warhead on a missile.

South Korea's defence ministry said seismic data suggested the explosive yield was significantly higher than the two previous tests at six to seven kilotons.

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