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China to share nuclear blast data with global monitoring body

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

BEIJING, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- China has agreed to share nuclear blast data from its 10 monitoring stations with a global monitoring organization, according to a media report on Monday, in a move expected to put more pressure on North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

The decision was made at a meeting in Vienna between Lassina Zerbo, the executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and Zhang Yulin, a deputy minister of China's defense ministry, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported in its Sunday edition.

China's patience with North Korea has been wearing increasingly thin, particularly after the North's third nuclear test in February. Beijing voted in favor of sanctions by the U.N. Security Council to punish Pyongyang for conducting the nuclear test.

Still, it remains unknown what type of fissile material North Korea used in its February nuclear test.

North Korea is believed to have conducted two nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, with plutonium devices. If the North is confirmed to have carried out the third test with a uranium bomb, it would raise the stakes of the North's nuclear stand-off, analysts say.

North Korea claims its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful energy development but outside experts believe that it could give the country a new source of fission material to make atomic bombs, in addition to its widely known plutonium-based nuclear weapons program.

Xu Guangyu, a researcher at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the newspaper that the data-sharing with the CTBTO was good news for the international society and a warning to North Korea.

"The monitoring networks can detect and assess any public or secret nuclear weapon test. It can constrain North Korea," Xu was quoted as saying.

China's move doesn't suggest it will ratify the test-ban treaty, according to the report.

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