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Japan detects no radiation following N. Korea nuclear test
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 7, 2016

S. Korea restricts entry to joint industrial zone in North
Seoul (AFP) Jan 7, 2016 - South Korea said Thursday it was imposing partial restrictions on entry to a joint industrial complex in North Korea, a day after the hermit kingdom shocked the world with its fourth nuclear test.

The Unification Ministry said it will only permit South Korean businessmen and those directly involved in the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex to cross the border for the time being for safety concerns.

"The entry restriction is a measure to ensure the safety of the citizens in this state of emergency," a ministry official told AFP, asking not to be named.

Around 500 South Koreans still crossed the border to Kaesong on Thursday, but the official said the number would quickly be reduced.

The move was described as "an initial countermeasure", with the official suggesting further Kaesong-related restrictions could be imposed in the future.

"Once we get the full picture of international sanctions on North Korea, the measure will need to be reviewed," the official said.

With backing from China, Pyongyang's sole major ally, the 15-member UN Security Council on Wednesday strongly condemned the test and said it would begin work on a new UN draft resolution that would contain "further significant measures".

The Kaesong industrial estate opened in 2004 and currently hosts more than 120 South Korean companies which employ some 53,000 North Korean workers.

The estate is a precious source of hard currency for the isolated and impoverished North. The South Korean firms get cheap labour as well as preferential loans and tax breaks from the government.

The business park -- virtually the last remaining form of economic cooperation between the Koreas -- has become increasingly vulnerable to turbulent swings in inter-Korea politics.

In 2013, during a period of heightened cross-border tensions, Pyongyang effectively shut down the zone for five months by withdrawing its workers.

Japan said Thursday it has detected no changes in radiation levels within its territory, following North Korea's claimed test of a hydrogen bomb the day before.

Concern in Japan over potential radiation drifting across the sea from North Korea skyrockets whenever it conducts underground nuclear tests, though none has ever been traced to the country after its three previous ones.

Japan is particularly sensitive to North Korea's nuclear and missile tests as prevailing winds blow from the Korean peninsula towards Japan and Pyongyang's ballistic rockets have flown over Japan into the Pacific Ocean.

"There was no particular change" so far in levels of radiation after Pyongyang's surprise underground explosion, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said in a statement.

It added that "no artificial radioactive nuclides" were detected from air samples collected by three Japanese air force planes which flew over the archipelago on Wednesday.

Also, some 300 monitoring posts across the country registered no meaningful change in radiation levels between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning as of 8:00 am (2300 GMT Wednesday), the NRA said.

Satoshi Yamamoto, an NRA official, told reporters late Wednesday that in general radioactive material is not even expected to be released in the case of underground nuclear tests.

Nevertheless, nuclear authorities are strengthening their monitoring activities "to confirm that radiation levels remain normal" after North Korea's test, Yamamoto said.

Japan did not detect artificial radioactive materials at the time of Pyongyang's three previous nuclear explosions between 2006 and 2013, he said.

Fresh results from a second round of flight by air force planes Thursday will be announced Friday, the NRA said.

But even if artificial radioactive material is detected, it would be difficult to discern whether it came from atomic bombs or a more destructive hydrogen device as the only material an H-bomb produces that an atomic bomb does not is helium, Yamamoto said.

Separately, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his South Korean opposite number Yun Byung-Se agreed Thursday in a telephone call that their countries will "closely cooperate" with other key players including China and the United States in responding to the test, Japan's foreign ministry said in a statement.

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Previous Report
UN sanctions threat over North Korea nuclear test
United Nations, United States (AFP) Jan 6, 2016
The UN Security Council on Wednesday agreed to roll out new measures to punish North Korea after Pyongyang said it carried out a successful hydrogen bomb test - a claim rejected by Washington and experts. With backing from China, Pyongyang's sole major ally, the 15-member council strongly condemned the test and said it would begin work on a new UN draft resolution that would contain "furthe ... read more

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