In May 2009, North Korea announced that it had conducted its second nuclear explosive test. Although the event generated a seismic signature consistent with a nuclear explosion, it produced no detectable release of radioactive gases or particulates (fallout). This either means that North Korea actually conducted a non-nuclear simulation of a nuclear test, or else it managed to achieve complete containment of a real nuclear explosion. Since detection of radioactive emissions provides the most unambiguous confirmation of a nuclear explosion, the successful containment of a nuclear test could be problematic for verification of a treaty banning such explosions.
This conundrum is explored in a new report from the Congressional Research Service. See “North Korea’s 2009 Nuclear Test: Containment, Monitoring, Implications” (pdf), April 2, 2010.
Congress has refused to make reports like this directly available to the public. Other noteworthy new CRS products obtained by Secrecy News that have not been publicly released include the following (all pdf).
“Federal Building and Facility Security,” March 24, 2010.