Sunday, September 12, 2004

 

North Korean Nuclear Test Updates.

Welcome to all the readers sent here via Allahpundit looking for the latest on the possible nuclear event in North Korea.

I'm going to leave this post up top until the morning, so scroll down for updates.

See my previous DPRK posts below, especially this one. At this time, I really don't have any more to add to that, barring receipt of additional information. It's a fluid situation, and I feel I may have "jumped the gun." In my defense, it's not every day that you see an A.P. headline with the words "mushroom cloud" in the title, so please excuse any errors made in my eagerness to post as quickly as possible.

Hopefully, the blogosphere will kick the major media in the pants twice in one week and get some hard data out there about what happened in North Korea, and soon.

Allah links to another post at The American Mind that has some interesting seismic data.

I also found this link at Speed of Thought. Even better seismic charts, showing little activity on the 9th.

If I had to make a bet right now, knowing what we know now: IT'S NOT A NUKE.

But we will know for sure one way or another in a few days. Take a breath, sit down, have a drink.

In the meantime, please stay awhile, look around, visit my archives. If you like what you see, please come back again and visit!

Cheers,
Dave

Comments:
Alaskan Earthquakes / North Korean NukesThe American Mind links to seismographic data in Alaska on September 9th which might corroborate the North Korean nuclear test theory. The recordings were at 08:15 Alaskan time, or 16:15 GMT.

But this page lists three Alaskan earthquakes from 16:08 through 16:24 GMT. So they might have just been earthquakes after all.
 
I remain of the general opinion that what we detected was a nuclear event. The cloud diameter is (based on a reference to the 1977 edition The Effects of Nuclear Weapons) appropriate for a device of in excess of 100kT. This, however, presupposes that the radioactive cloud was measured at point of initiation--there is a growth factor. We also have reports of cratering, which suggests a partial-surface burst (probably detonated on a tower like the Trinity device).

The only other possibility I can estimate--and I will assume this to be of about equal probability at this time--is that if this is a missile testing range (which at least one source claimed it to be), there was a very large detonation of liquid rocket fuels. The Halifax Disaster comes to mind as an example of a multi-kiloton conventional explosion which had comparable effects and magnitude to a nuclear event, and certainly the idea of a major disaster for the DPRK's rocket programme is hardly impossible.

However, indicators existed that preparations were being undertaken for a nuclear test event (as reported in the NYT) to occur in the DPRK very soon. Ironically one of the lacking indicators was the placement of monitoring instruments for an underground test at the site suspected. In retrospect that may be an example of mirror-imaging. The Korcoms may have simply skipped that step by initiating the device on the surface.

-- The Duchess
 
How BIG can a fission device go if they don't have access to tritium? Can it go to 100KT? If so, that IS the size of a strategic warhead.

--
Macker
 
Maybe there is a perfectly normal reason for the explosion and mushroom cloud. Maybe dear leader had eaten brown beans.

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Or it could be a 'Potemkin Bomb', so to speak. Maybe the Norks tossed a couple of thousand cases of RDX and a few thousand barrels of rocket fuel and a some sparklers in a big ditch, tossed in a match and ran for it.

The point being, maybe they aren't really as close to making a nuke as they want to be (or maybe they've just discovered their designs won't work) but still want everyone to believe that they *do* have nukes.
 
Macker--

It is my understanding that the limiting factor in the size of a fission bomb isn't tritium, which I believe is used mostly in fusion vs. fission weapons. The limiting factor is weight, size, and safety of building such a bomb. Fission weapons aren't very efficient, you don't good scaling effects.

A good summary online can be found here:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/encyclopedia/nuclear_weapon_design#Practical%20limitations%20of%20the%20fission%20bomb

Thanks for writing in!
 
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