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China steps up radiation monitoring after NKorea nuke test

February 14, 2013 15:56 IST

In the wake of North Korea's third nuclear test, China has stepped up monitoring of radiation levels at its borders with close ally Pyongyang as the test site is situated about 100 km from the Chinese border.

China's environmental watchdog said several radiation monitoring detachments have been dispatched to monitor and evaluate the environment in northeast China following the recent nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

More than 150 radiation monitoring stations across China have been conducting real-time environmental monitoring and the data collected in all provincial capitals will be released by the ministry of environmental protection and updated daily, a statement issued by the ministry said.

No artificial radioactive nuclides had been detected till Wednesday state run Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying adding that China's environment has not been affected by a DPRK nuclear test conducted on Tuesday.

Monitoring results collected by 25 automatic monitoring stations located in northeast China's border areas showed that radiation has remained at a normal level, according to the statement.

The provinces of Jilin and Liaoning in northeast China share a border with the DPRK.

The monitoring followed reports in the Chinese media highlighting public fears over radiation from North Korea's nuclear test drifting across the border amid an overwhelming public backlash over Pyongyang's move.

The nuclear test by North Korea despite China's advise against it was seen as an attempt by the country's new leader Kim Jong Un to challenge Beijing's role as a referee and peacemaker between Pyongyang and the US, Japan and South Korea.

The Chinese government also has to reassure the public that their country is safe from nuclear contamination, the Beijing News reported.

State-run Xinhua said the North Korea's defiance was deeply rooted in its strong sense of insecurity after years of confrontation with South Korea, Japan and a militarily more superior United States.

In the eyes of DPRK, Washington has spared no efforts to contain it and flexed its military muscle time and again by holding joint military drills with South Korea and Japan in the region.

Yu Sui, professor at the China Centre for Contemporary World Studies, dismisses North Korea's test as "half helplessness and half bluff" meant at raising its "bargaining price", but also lays the responsibility on the US to sort out the crisis.

Wang Fan, an expert on Korean studies at the China Foreign Affairs University, tells China Daily that the US and its allies, Japan and South Korea, may exploit Pyongyang's nuclear test as an excuse for a military build-up in the region.

"More drills by the US and its allies are possible in a bid to show their firm opposition to the nuclear test and other measures by Pyongyang they call provocative," Wang Fan, an expert on Korean studies at the China foreign affairs university said.

They will also quicken deployment of anti-missile systems in the name of containing the DPRK Wang told state run China Daily.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his Republic of Korea counterpart Kim Sung-hwan talked over the phone and exchanged their views on the situation on the KoreanPeninsula.

Yang also talked with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Yang told Kerry that China explicitly stated its position on Pyongyang's nuclear test, urging all parties to keep focused and avoid escalation, according to the foreign ministry.

All parties concerned should insist on a peaceful solution, resolve the KoreanPeninsula issue within the framework of the Six-Party Talks, and maintain peace and stability on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia, Yang said.

K J M Varma in Beijing
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