So Not Da Bomb.: Was NorK Nuke a Dud? (Update: Michael Yon Hears "Non-Nuclear" From Well-Placed Source)

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Oct 10, 2006 4:06 PM

Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, BOOM, Dynamite?

The experts are saying, if it was nuclear, it was very small and likely not a complete success. In fact, it's the least successful of any first test, ever. You know that's stickin' in Dear Leader's craw. I can't wait until the state-run news service reports it. Ha.

Throughout history, the first detonations of aspiring nuclear powers have tended to pack the destructive power of 10,000 to 60,000 tons — 10 to 60 kilotons — of conventional high explosives.

But the strength of the North Korean test appears to have been a small fraction of that: around a kiloton or less, according to scientists monitoring the global arrays of seismometers that detect faint trembles in the earth from distant blasts.

The Washington Times is quoting American intel guys:

U.S. intelligence agencies say, based on preliminary indications, that North Korea did not produce its first nuclear blast yesterday.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that seismic readings show that the conventional high explosives used to create a chain reaction in a plutonium-based device went off, but that the blast's readings were shy of a typical nuclear detonation. 

Allah's been following this all day, and he's got a munitions expert in his comments. Interesting stuff.

John at Op-For doesn't think it was conventional explosives:

It is science fiction to think that the Norks can slip hundreds, if not thousands, of tons of TNT into a single entry mine shaft withour our spy sats detecting the activity. Remember it was those space assets that blew the whistle on the North's nuke operation in the first place. 

Sorta related, Drudge is claiming this political ad, produced for Republicans by the director of "Scary Movie" and "Airplane," was deemed a bit too explosive for the '06 season.  


Update: Another dud, in Italy this time.

Update: Michael Yon hears "non-nuclear" from a well-placed source.

The explosion may have been an actual nuclear test — this is unknown — but the source reports the outcome was non-nuclear. The source stressed the importance of bearing in mind that though the explosion occured in North Korea — if it was actually a test and not merely a dictator clamoring for attention and influence — the test may have been by or for the Iranians. The source reported that American physicists with access to the information see no sign of nuclear activity, however. My source also mentioned that Japanese sensors picked up no radiation signatures.