March 5, 2012
German and Japanese intelligence sources Monday, March 5, confirmed – and qualified – to DEBKAfile reports in the German Der Spiegel and Welt am Sonntag that Western intelligence had known for 11 months that at least one of North Korea’s covert nuclear tests in 2010 was carried out on an Iranian radioactive bomb or nuclear warhead.
Those sources report five facts are known for sure:
1. North Korea carried out two covert underground nuclear explosions in mid-April and around May 11 of 2010 equivalent to 50- 200 tonnes of TNT.
2. Two highly lethal heavy hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, typical of a nuclear fission explosion and producing long-term contamination of the atmosphere, were detected and analyzed by Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBOTO) monitoring stations in South Korea, Japan and Russia.
3. The presence of tritium in one of the tests led several intelligence agencies watching North Korea’s nuclear program and its longstanding links with Iran and Syria to examine the possibility that Pyongyang had tested the internal mechanism of a nuclear warhead on Iran’s behalf. This strongly indicated to German and Japanese intelligence that Iran had already developed the nuclear warhead’s outer shell and attained its weaponization.
4. Another possibility examined was that North Korea had tested an Iranian “dirty bomb” – i.e. a conventionally detonated device containing nuclear substances. Tritium would boost its range, force and lethality.