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Did North Korea really achieve clean fusion?  (Source: Lee Jin-Man/Associated Press)

Inside the reactor core of one of North Korea's nuclear plants  (Source: AP)
Many scientists are discounting that the secretive dictatorship made a true breakthrough

A mystery is emerging on the Korean peninsula.  The nation of North Korea, which has long been suspected of developing nuclear weapons, announced on May 12 that it had achieved clean nuclear fusion and was ready to began rolling out virtually free power.  The claim did not receive that much serious attention because it was simply so unbelievable.

Now the mystery has deepened, with the South Korean government scientists revealing that they detected abnormal levels of radioactive xenon gas -- eight times above the normal background level -- only two days after the fusion announcement.

It seems highly unlikely that the fusion reaction occurred as North Korea claims as fission typically produces large isotopes, while fusion uses small atoms like deuterium (a hydrogen isotope).  Granted, many scientists have theorized that fission can be tied to fusion to create hybrid reactors and such reactors 
would likely be capable of producing heavy isotopes.

Professor David Hinde, who is the department head of nuclear physics at The Australian National University says the release is more likely to have come from a traditional fission device.  He states, "It would have to be man-generated unless one came up with some very unusual alternative scenario. The lifetime of those radioactive xenon isotopes, they're not terribly long. So it could not be anything that came naturally, I would say.  Heavy xenon isotopes could be a signature of a fission device of some kind."

The easiest explanation would be that North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test.  It revealed in 2008 that it has several nuclear weapons stockpiled.  However, such a test would have created seismic activity and South Korean officials detected no corresponding seismic events.

Xenon is colorless, odorless, and largely inert noble gas thats found in minute levels in the atmosphere.  The noble gases xenon and krypton are typically used to detect nuclear activity.  The levels of gas detected by South Korea are a clear marker of nuclear activity, but do not pose a health risk to citizens.

North Korea 
did conduct nuclear weapons tests in 2006, which were detected.  It received international condemnation for these tests and UN sanctions.

For now, though, it's unclear exactly what happened in the mysterious nation of North Korea.  While it's highly unlikely the nation has discovered the holy grail of renewable energy, something that has eluded the best researchers in the U.S. and abroad, at this point there are no definitive answers.

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if it were true
By hughlle on 6/24/2010 3:49:46 PM , Rating: -1
If N korea do pull it off, whether now or later, i wonder what the US governments reaction will be? :D force the north into war with the south and send in the cavalry haha, you all know the debate over iraq and oil, and now afghanistan and minerals ;) conspiracy!! whoooooooo

RE: if it were true
By Daniel8uk on 6/24/10, Rating: 0
RE: if it were true
By integr8d on 6/25/2010 3:16:21 AM , Rating: 2
Correct. This is what will doom Iran.

RE: if it were true
By Ratinator on 6/24/2010 4:29:03 PM , Rating: 2
I think the world's reaction (not just US) would be to go after them. Fusion is simply too powerful for such a rogue country.

RE: if it were true
By Daniel8uk on 6/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: if it were true
By seamonkey79 on 6/24/2010 5:40:54 PM , Rating: 2
See, you fail because you're pretending that they're sensible humans.

A common failing among developed nation's citizens, most under-developed and developing nations are not governed by sensible humans, merely non-dead crazies.

RE: if it were true
By TheRealFink on 6/24/2010 5:51:26 PM , Rating: 5
Daniel8uk let's get the facts straight. Dude don't just take my word for it go research it yourself.

As horrible as it sounds, the use of the Atom bomb by the US saved peoples lives during WW II.

The amounts vary but you can read the wiki article.

1) By the US dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the following estimated casualties were saved:
a) Japanese (civilian and military) - 1 - 5 Million
b) American - 500,000 - 1.5 Million

These were estimated numbers for the invasion of the Japanese main islands.

The estimates were based on the battle of Okinawa where the Japanese military forced the civilian population to fight.

If you think the US was inhuman during WW II, they were. As was the rest of the combatants.

Ask the Chinese who suffered an estimated 20 Million casualties to the Japanese from 1936 - 1945.

Yes it is wikipedia but I've read numerous books on the subject that corroborate the wiki numbers.

Total War as waged during WWII, is a horrible, horrible thing. People always like to attack the US for everything. Including in your post 'mass murder'. The truth is the US is far from perfect, but it is far from evil as well.

RE: if it were true
By StriderGT on 6/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: if it were true
By ClownPuncher on 6/24/2010 7:33:31 PM , Rating: 2
WW2 is over.

RE: if it were true
By StriderGT on 6/24/2010 8:38:50 PM , Rating: 2

RE: if it were true
By BruceLeet on 6/24/2010 10:56:58 PM , Rating: 2

RE: if it were true
By Wulf145 on 6/25/2010 8:17:27 AM , Rating: 2
Since when? When was the peace treaty signed?

RE: if it were true
By espaghetti on 6/25/2010 2:36:10 AM , Rating: 1
So let me get this right. (there are a lot of "estimating" and "experts" floating around in here)

1. They attack and kill us.
2. We say sorry and have them over for tea to talk about what is upsetting them.

Is this how your mind works?

1. We keep dragging out the bombing campaigns already in progress until the Nazi's have figured out how to make an atom bomb?
2. Receive bomb(s).


1. You tell me your other pacifist ideas.
2. I still disagree.

RE: if it were true
By derricker on 6/24/10, Rating: -1
RE: if it were true
By Danish1 on 6/25/2010 3:14:52 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know why you even bother responding to people bringing up the WW2 nukings claiming (directly or indirectly) the US did something evil/bad/wrong, they are so completely out of touch with history/reality there's nothing you can do to help them out of their ignorant misery.

RE: if it were true
By ianweck on 6/25/2010 7:40:14 AM , Rating: 2
Why do I even bother with reading DailyTech comments anymore?

RE: if it were true
By Penti on 6/24/2010 6:31:06 PM , Rating: 2
I think

"In its report the KCNA said: "In this course, Korean-style thermonuclear reaction devices were designed and manufactured, basic researches into nuclear fusion reaction completed and strong scientific and technological forces built to perfect thermonuclear technology by their own efforts.""

Says it all, a kid can do nuclear fusion in their parent basement with a few grands worth of equipment. They merely researched and produced a crude small scale prototype demonstration I would guess. Nothing special, just proves they can put together some magnets and build a vacuum chamber. And we already know they can reprocess plutonium. There's simply no breakthrough there just some academics playing around. It's a really long way to go to a device that produces more energy then you put in, and converts it to electricity.

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