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– Suzanne DiMaggio
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
Defying Global Taboo, North Korea Conducts 3rd Nuclear Blast
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The government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has apparently conducted its third nuclear test explosion, defying the explicit demands of the UN Security Council and the international community that it “abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.”

The Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Tibor Toth, issued the following statement on Feb. 12 at 04:19:17 CST:

“Today our monitoring stations picked up evidence of an unusual seismic event in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The event shows clear explosion-like characteristics and its location is roughly congruent with the 2006 and 2009 DPRK nuclear tests. For now, further data and analysis are necessary to establish what kind of event this is. If confirmed as a nuclear test, this act would constitute a clear threat to international peace and security, and challenges efforts made to strengthen global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, in particular by ending nuclear testing.”

Nuclear test explosions produce seismic signatures that are distinct from earthquakes and chemical high explosions. Underground nuclear test explosions also emit small quantities of certain types of radioactive gases that can be detected by mobile air monitoring equipment deployed by the U.S. Air Force, and, depending on weather patterns, by certain ground stations controlled by Russia, Japan, and South Korea, as well as the international radionuclide monitoring stations that are part of the CTBTO’s International Monitoring System.

The CTBTO reports that their first and preliminary automatic detections were made by up to 25 seismic stations around the world. The first data were made available to CTBTO Member States in little more than one hour.

According to the CTBTO, the event measured 5.0 in magnitude, which is around twice as large as the DPRK’s nuclear test in 2009 (4.52) and much larger than the one in 2006 (4.1).

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