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Spy agencies scrounge for details on N. Korean nuclear test

Published on Feb 21, 2013 7:17 AM

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (REUTERS) - United States (US) and allied spy agencies have found no traces of telltale nuclear-related particles from North Korea's Feb 12 nuclear bomb test, leaving unresolved basic questions about the device's design, according to officials in the US, Europe and South Korea.

This lack of scientific evidence suggests that key questions may remain unanswered about the type of fissile material used in the test, which was detected by seismic sensors. It also leaves unaddressed questions about how far the North has advanced in its bomb design.

After the test, the US Air Force Technical Applications Centre in Florida dispatched WC-135 "sniffer" airplanes to look for traces of gas residue that could offer clues to the device's design, but those efforts apparently turned up empty, the officials said.

An Air Force spokesman confirmed that the planes were dispatched but said no results from the missions could be released. A US intelligence official said analysis from the tests "was continuing".

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