Sunday, September 12, 2004


See-- this is what happens when I don't read the stuff closely enough.


That's what the AP and NYT reports say, now that I bothered myself to read them all the way through-- that the blast happened Thursday.

So, does that mean it happened Friday our time? I get confused with the date lines. Anybody out there know?

Anyways-- nothing popped up at work on Friday, so I don't think it happened then. But I left early, so stuff may have happened later.

Hmmm. Right now, I'm thinking there are three possibilities:

-- Something happened, and the Pentagon won't confirm yet for some reason (it may have seen the explosion, but wants to confirm via other technical means).
-- Something happened, and it wasn't nuclear. However, the AP story quotes witnesses as reporting a mushroom cloud 2.5 miles in diameter. You can't get a cloud that big with TNT.
-- Nothing happened, and the AP story is wrong. They're quoting South Korean news sources, which might as well be tabloids. Nothing may have happened, or there might be a disinformation push. . . for what purpose, I do not know.

The NYT reported that the President and his staff were expecting something. Either a nuclear test, or a conventional weapons test. But the latter wouldn't be big enough to cause the explosion described, if in fact that explosion was as big as reported.

-- The Bush Admin expects a test.
-- A Seoul "diplomatic source" says they saw evidence of a large explosion "by satellite."
-- The South Koreans don't have military spy satellites, at least not yet (I believe they are working on one, the Koreasat, IIRC). They could have gotten information from a civilian or privately-owned remote sensing bird, but given how the United States and South Korea actively share intelligence (including nuclear and missile launch intelligence, via the Shared Early Warning System), it's just as likely that this source saw American-provided intelligence

Given the above, I still suspect that it was a nuclear test, but the United States wants to confirm that it was before it releases the details. In the meantime, we'd be discussing what happened-- and any possible responses-- with the ROK leadership. Hence the "leak," if that's what it is.

Damn, this is all so irregular.

What is going on?
UPDATE: I found another site with info. They report that the explosion definitely happened on Thursday, September 9th.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: The US Geological Survey comes in handy at times like this. It's the poor-man's NDS. Checking it's stats for the week, nothing appears out of the ordinary on the 9th. Anything is possible, but it should be kind of hard to miss a ground-level nuclear explosion along the Pacific Rim.


A large cloud that appeared over North Korea in satellite images several days ago was not the result of a nuclear explosion, according to a U.S. official.
The U.S. official said the cloud could be the result of a forest fire.

Possible, but that wouldn't explain the reported crater. I find this interesting, given that our next generation of space-based infrared sensors should be able to detect forest fires as one of their secondary missions (it's not nuclear war every day, gotta keep them busy).

In fact, this sounds almost like the kind of dumb excuse a government employee would give a reporter asking nosy questions about classified information.

"Maybe somebody didn't listen to Smokey the Bear? Yuk, yuk."

Then again, who knows? I don't trust any news source other than American news outlets.

Uh, on second thought, scratch that.

Beijing (GMT+7) is 12 hours ahead of us at EST (GMT-5) whereas Seoul is GMT+9. It has always been hard for me to know what they mean by "blast happened Thursday". Thursday here or there. If it happened Thursday morning there, then it was Wednesday night here.

You might want to look at the USGS site for Wednesday.
This could throw an interesting crinkle into the election...

Everyone have their anti-radiation pills handy?
The coincidental chain for this not to be a nuke is improbable. 1. It happened on a major Nork anniversary.
2. It created a massive mushroom cloud.

Sure, it could be a conventional explosion that just happened to go off on that day. And mayb eit just happened to create a huge cloud from a massive forest fire. But is it likely? I think the US government is confused or keeping it underwraps until they hash out a policy. They can't say "hey, they set off a nuke, Bush will comment once he figures out what the hell to say about it."
Good points all.

I'm gonna "cool the jets" a bit, and wait & see. I certainly need more information than what's available out there on the web tonight.

Thanks for writing in!
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