Xenon, an element that is found in trace amounts after nuclear weapons tests and other nuclear activities, was detected by a South Korean nuclear regulatory expert organization in June, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The Korea Institute for Nuclear Safety detected the presence of the gaseous element three times in June, sources told the wire service.
A nuclear weapons test by North Korea was conducted in February, but no signs of nuclear activity emanated from the North around the time the gas was discovered, according to Yonhap. Xenon isotopes break down relatively quickly, so the detected gas may not be from any recent nuclear activity from the North, according to a source for the Korean wire service. The rare isotopes found over South Korea could have originated in Japan, from radiation leaks stemming from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Relevant agencies are conducting an analysis, and that’s what we know of,” a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman told the Journal.
A North Korean announcement in April that a reactor and uranium enrichment plant at the Yongbyon complex would be activated has not been detected by the South, according to Yonhap’s sources, but the facility could have begun the start-up process in May.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s special representative for peace and security affairs left the Asian nation for a three-day trip to Russia, where he will meet with Russia’s top negotiator for Pyongyang’s denuclearization, Yonhap also reported.
“I plan to share detailed opinions on how to assess North Korea’s nuclear programs and threats and discuss how to push ahead with efforts to denuclearize the North during this visit,” the South Korean envoy told Yonhap.
A seventh round of meetings between the North and the South over the future of the shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex will begin on Wednesday. Negotiations will hinge on making progress on conditions that South Korea asserts are necessary to prevent work stoppages in the future, Yonhap reported separately on Tuesday.
North Korea is also attempting to improve diplomatic ties with various countries in Africa, in a move that observers say is an attempt to escape the global isolation that the Asian nation has faced during its pursuit of nuclear weapons, according to another Yonhap report.
What We're Following See More »
"The Supreme Court is taking up a First Amendment clash over the government’s refusal to register offensive trademarks, a case that could affect the Washington Redskins in their legal fight over the team name. The justices agreed Thursday to hear a dispute involving an Asian-American rock band called the Slants, but they did not act on a separate request to hear the higher-profile Redskins case at the same time." Still, any precedent set by the case could have ramifications for the Washington football team.
The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at a little-known intersection of politics and entertainment, in which Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon is still raking in residuals from Seinfeld. Here's the digest version: When Seinfeld was in its infancy, Ted Turner was in the process of acquiring its production company, Castle Rock, but he was under-capitalized. Bannon's fledgling media company put up the remaining funds, and he agreed to "participation rights" instead of a fee. "Seinfeld has reaped more than $3 billion in its post-network afterlife through syndication deals." Meanwhile, Bannon is "still cashing checks from Seinfeld, and observers say he has made nearly 25 times more off the Castle Rock deal than he had anticipated."
Donald Trump's "transition team will meet next week with representatives of the tech industry, multiple sources confirmed, even as their candidate largely has been largely shunned by Silicon Valley. The meeting, scheduled for next Thursday at the offices of law and lobbying firm BakerHostetler, will include trade groups like the Information Technology Industry Council and the Internet Association that represent major Silicon Valley companies."