Cold War aircraft searches the sky for proof of test

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A COLD WAR relic was last night flying above North Korea trying to answer the question the world is asking: did Kim Jong Il tell the truth about his inaugural nuclear test? The last surviving Constant Phoenix, a nuclear-test sniffing aircraft commissioned by President Eisenhower, has so far failed to detect radioactive isotopes from the atmosphere.

There was still “no definitive proof” that a nuclear device had been detonated at an underground facility in northeast North Korea, according to Western intelligence sources. “For a first nuclear test, one would have expected radioactivity to have been released into the atmosphere, unless the device was small enough for the North Koreans to have contained all the radioactivity underground,” said one source.

If no trace of radiation is discovered by the Constant Phoenix, it would indicate that the size of the detonation was more in line with the estimate given by the South Koreans — less than one kiloton of TNT.

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