Wednesday, May 25, 2016

U.S. developing seismic detectors to measure North Korea nuclear tests

The United States Air Force is to continue developing seismic wave detectors to better measure prospective North Korean nuclear tests.

According to a statement from Congress, the Senate Armed Services Committee supports funding for the development of the air force's seismic detection program, Yonhap reported Tuesday.

North Korea has so far conducted four nuclear tests: in 2006, 2009, 2013, and most recently in January.

In the aftermath of an underground North Korea nuclear test, the U.S. Air Force has typically dispatched reconnaissance planes over the peninsula to measure the amount of radioactive material emitted into the atmosphere.

But new technology offers an alternative means of measurement, or through the direct detection of seismic waves.

North Korea's nuclear tests increased in magnitude between 2006 and 2013, but according to Andrew Frassetto of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology in Washington, D.C., the magnitude of the January test was similar to the test conducted in 2013.

In January North Korea had announced that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. But the claim, if true, would have resulted in a more powerful quake.

The congressional report also noted the Air Force Research Laboratory is to play a key role in the program to detect and monitor nuclear activities.

In 2015 the Senate Armed Services Committee approved $7.5 million toward developing the program.

There are about 170 North Korea nuclear test detection centers in the South. The world's second largest earthquake observatory is in the city of Wonju, South Korea.

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