In the latest issue of Science magazine, published Friday, researchers from 15 institutions in 6 countries including Seoul National University, South Korea's Institute for Basic Science, MIT and the University of Liverpool suggest that neutrino technology could be used to verify that Pyeongyang has denuclearized.
Neutrinos are one of the lightest and smallest subatomic particles.
They travel at near light speed, and are emitted by radioactive decay. The scientists say that by looking at the neutrinos coming out of a nuclear reactor, existing detectors can determine the reactor's power level and the state of the fuel inside.
These detectors could be used to verify the shutdown of a reactor even without its operational records and without having to go inside. Theoretically, it could be done by placing a neutrino detector in a freight container outside.
Verifying North Korea's denuclearization remains one of the biggest obstacles on the road to a peaceful Korean Peninsula. If diplomatic talks with Pyeongyang advance enough that inspections at North Korea's nuclear facilities take place, scientists are saying that this neutrino technology presents merits for all parties involved in the process.
South Korea and the United States might value the tamper resistance of the neutrino signal and the resilience of the detectors, which can reconstruct a nuclear reactor's operational history from incomplete data.
And North Korea might be glad to have a way to comply with treaties but still limit access to its nuclear reactor buildings.
Kan Hyeong-woo, Arirang News