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(UPDATED) NoKo’s Nuke: Snap, Crackle, Thud
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Or dud?

Seems there's a growing consensus that North Korea's "nuke" may have been exactly that:
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.

"We're still evaluating the data, and as more data comes in, we hope to develop a clearer picture," said one official familiar with intelligence reports.

"There was a seismic event that registered about 4 on the Richter scale, but it still isn't clear if it was a nuclear test. You can get that kind of seismic reading from high explosives."

The underground explosion, which Pyongyang dubbed a historic nuclear test, is thought to have been the equivalent of several hundred tons of TNT, far short of the several thousand tons of TNT, or kilotons, that are signs of a nuclear blast, the official said.

The official said that so far, "it appears there was more fizz than pop."
So assuming that, now what?

Continue with "sanctions" talk in the UN?

When and if they pass, who will they really hurt? Do we really want to do that?

Sanctions have really never worked that well, target those who can least afford to be targeted (the poor and the starving) and usually harden the target's will instead of breaking it.

Do we take the hint and open bilateral talks with NoKo (what have we to lose?). Seems to me that's the best path toward any diplomatic success. Why aren't we doing that?

Do we push China to get in NoKo's face and stop this? Would they do it if we pressured them?

How about Russia, who seems to have turned into a sort of NoKo nuclear cheerleader?

Japan, I would assume will be hardline about this, while South Korea will not.

As Dale called it, "a fine kettle of fish".

It did, however, knock the Foley mess off the front page (the Republicans send their thanks Kim).

UPDATED: An official in Australia is saying that none of the 15 global radiation sites have detected the "noble gases" which would indicate a nuclear detonation:
Operated by Geoscience Australia, the network is part of an international array of 337 stations linked to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which Australia signed in 1996.

Half the global system of 15 radiation observation sites can even spot fallout from underground nuclear tests by detecting noble gases - gases with a distinct chemical make-up.

The Government source said although he would not have expected wind to carry fallout from such a tiny underground nuclear test as far as Australia, he was not aware of any monitoring station anywhere that had detected radiation from North Korea.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
The Belmont Club has a lot more on this including the guess that it might have been a suitcase nuke.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
I don’t see why a "suitcase nuke" or a tactical round of less than 1 KT makes sense. The US developed "tactical nuclear weapons" when fissile material was relatively plenty, in the LATE 1950’s. An AFAP or ADM use a minimum amount of fissile material,just a SWAG-estimate a kilogram or two...A Nagasaki-type implosion device takes 10-15 kilo’s. WHY would anyone use up scarce fissile material to mae a weapon that is usable against a battalion or brigade, when for a little more effort you can threaten Seoul, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, or Agano Guam? It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Bottom-Line: AFAP and ADM’s are inefficient users of fissile material and it is much more likely that this was either a hoax or a "fizzle."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
WHY would anyone use up scarce fissile material to mae a weapon that is usable against a battalion or brigade, when for a little more effort you can threaten Seoul, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, or Agano Guam? It just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
In a cash strapped country, for export to players who want the technology and are willing to pay big bucks to acquire it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Do we take the hint and open bilateral talks with NoKo (what have we to lose?). Seems to me that’s the best path toward any diplomatic success. Why aren’t we doing that?
I have never researched this and look forward to the smarter minds’ explanation. Bush and Co. oppose it, therefore of course, my automatic instinct is it is a good idea (but that is my skewed compass at work based on 10 years under the Bush regime, counting Texas).

I assume it is because if there are concessions, it would made unilaterally as a group within that region. Concessions would be funded as a regional group who would be also satisfied with the decisions. Bilateral US concessions alone? Well, they are the debt and burden of the US. (read: taxpayer)

Besides we pretty much know what NorK will ask for; the damn Reactors Clinton promised them, and Bush has failed to deliver (yes yes, under the pretext of them misusing the technology and develop NorK Nukes.)

This is all a big mess that Bush has ignored while clearing Daddys karma over in Iraq. Focusing on ’terrorism’ instead of ’the enemy’. I blame him for dodging the hard tasks; his focus was on taking out one sand dune dictator. Anyone who thinks otherwise is in some serious denial.

Solution: siimple. Bribe a starving nation: overthrow Kim, and wealth will reign from heaven.

Me? I’d rather spend $14 billion on rebuilding NorK, than have Hawaii toasted.

But again, this is merely my assumption, and opinion.
 
Written By: Rick Day
URL: http://goplobby.org
As a side question - have the French surrendered yet or are they still holding out defiantly?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
In a cash strapped country, for export to players who want the technology and are willing to pay big bucks to acquire it.
With all due respect this is nonsensical. The "technology" is already available. Has been since the late 1950’-s and is readily available on the Internet. All one needs is a PhD and some cash. You mean the HARDWARE. And again, I’d posit that the hardware will come with "signatures", identifying the who made the weapon. IF Wall Street, NYC or the refineries near Haifa, Israel disappear in a flash of actinic light, North Korea will receive the Lion’s Share of the blame, UNLESS Hamas or Hizb’Allah step forward. Only a fool believes that if either of these hypothetical’s occur that there would be NO response from the US. So the sale of low-yield nuclear weapons is a way to get one’s privates in a crack, but without the umbrella provided by larger yield weapons? I don’t mean to be disrespectful or start a flame war, but the idea that North Korea would SELL nuclear weapons is hard for me to believe, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Iran, MIGHT, bearing in mind that they seem to want to bring a return of the Twelfth Imam, but North Korea isn’t interested in the 12th Imam, but in reunifying the Korean Peninsula and/or maintaining the current regime for a few more years.

Bottom-Line: the sale of nuclear weapons makes you enemies. I don’t think Korea is interested in enemies, but survival. I’d still bet that this was a hoax or a "fizzle." Fizzles happen, happened to the US numerous times, right into the 1980’s, a source I’d refer you to Hansen’s US Nuclear Weapons.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Me? I’d rather spend $14 billion on rebuilding NorK, than have Hawaii toasted.
It cost more than that for the DDR, Rich, my man....That’s right, from what i have read the South Koreans utterly DREAD the Reunification, because they saw the cost to the BRD, of re-uniting with East Germany. It ain’t gonna be $14 billion. AND it ain’t gonna be encouraging the North to rebel, either...how do we do that, Rick? Radio’s, carrier pigeon? IT’S A STALINIST STATE FOR THE EHAVEN’S SAKE! This reminds me of the Garofolo (sp.) "Win Without War" campaign, sure it sounds good, until you try to put into practice.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Solution: siimple. Bribe a starving nation: overthrow Kim, and wealth will reign from heaven.

Me? I’d rather spend $14 billion on rebuilding NorK, than have Hawaii toasted.
You must have liked the Oil-for-Food plan then. That was as tremendous diplomatic success, don’t you think?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Looker, France is currently TRYING to surrender, but the French Telecom System is currently on strike for 25 hour work week and consequently Chirac has been unable to connect with North Korea. Compounding THAT problem is the fact that the sound-powered telephone system in North Korea is currently inoperative, because no one makes parts for a 1940’s telephone systems, any more, except one Krean factory, currently producing busts of the "Dear Leader."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Rick, up until about 3 weeks ago when I first read one of your posts I was staunchly AGAINST the War on Drugs. Now honestly, I’m not so sure. Much of the outward face of Drug Legalization Lobby in the US ain’t pretty and, Rick, you are their poster child.

Rick, stick to cleaning out your bong or making things glow under black light. You do a great disservice to actual Libertarians.
 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
I have never researched this and look forward to the smarter minds’ explanation....

...I blame him for dodging the hard tasks; his focus was on taking out one sand dune dictator. Anyone who thinks otherwise is in some serious denial.
I really don’t know about all of this, except that it’s all Bush’s fault!

Yep, that’s a corker.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
Same old, same old.

We can be sure we don’t know what might have happened if we’d stuck with Carter’s plan/Clinton’s plan, the various UN plans, if we’d elected Al Gore/John Kerry, but we can be confident that whatever it is, it would be better, safer, kinder, more diplomatic, with a better outcome for everyone, puppies, hugs, flowers, low gas prices, no Islamic fundamentalists, no terror, no hurricanes, no global warming, and a sane man in charge of a happy, prosperous, world accepted and world accepting North Korea.

If ONLY we’d listened to reason when they tried to save us from ourselves and that DEVIL George Bush. But it’s not too late, just vote Democrat in November and it’ll be like Dorothy clicking her heels together by June of 2007 - pure magic.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Sanctions have really never worked that well, target those who can least afford to be targeted (the poor and the starving) and usually harden the target’s will instead of breaking it.
Actually, economic isolation did work against the Soviet Union. The key is actually sticking with it, not backing down. When North Korea was at an econmic breaking point in the 90’s, our government decided to bail them out, providing money and food so NK could continue its military programs.
Yes, sanctions affect the poor the most. The Soviet government cared enough about its populace (or faced enogh internal pressure) to open up to the west. Clinton chose to care more about the population of NK than US interests, and showed more compassion for their population than NK leadership did. With Oil-for food corruption, sanctions were not being enforced in Iraq. Bush combined the interests of the Iraqi populace with US interests. Whether it works out for the US is still in doubt, but it has definitely been good for Iraqi civilians. (Average 100 killed per day by Saddam, down to 50/violent deaths/day by the Brookings institute estimate May 2003-July 2006. Plus massive infrastruture improvements.)
Whether they have a bomb now is in doubt. If they do not, sanctions could still work against North Korea, if enforced. The key is having people realize that, when they hear stories of starving North Koreans, it’s their own governments choice to strive for weapons instead of food.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Sanctions -> Cuba

Any more questions?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Cuba has posed a legitimate threat to what country? It provided weapons and financing to who?
Oh, No one.
The real goal isn’t getting rid of everyone that doesn’t like the U.S. (otherwise someone would be advocating using them against France).
The goal is minimizing or eliminating threats to U.S. interests.

Sanctions have worked against Cuba.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
No Ted, sanctions haven’t hurt Cuba...Cuba has hurt Cuba. Cuba can trade with the EU and the RESTof the world and it’s still dirt poor. I conclude sanctions do less than Marxist-Leninism.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Cuba can trade with the EU
And guess who’ll trade with North Korea while the rest of us are ’punishing’ them?
Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Ahmadinejad, and the like.

Cuba has posed a legitimate threat to what country? It provided weapons and financing to who?
Oh, No one.
Cuban missile crisis?
Cuban mercenaries in Africa working for socialist regimes?
Cuban troops in Grenada?
Cuban support for the Sandanistas?
Mostly Soviet proxy work, but Cuba was involved the whole way.
So, define ’legitimate’ threat. What, they have to have a big army? A big navy? Be able to project their military influence on a world wide theatre basis?

In any event, our sanctions didn’t destroy the Cuban government in the last 40 years. Even our neighbors to the north, and our buddies the Brits don’t pay much attention to them.


 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Mostly Soviet proxy work, but Cuba was involved the whole way.
Sorry, I should have said "since the Soviets stopped funneling funds through Cuba". Since none of those occured after the fall of the Soviet Union, it’s more evidence of sanctions working on them.
In any event, our sanctions didn’t destroy the Cuban government in the last 40 years. Even our neighbors to the north, and our buddies the Brits don’t pay much attention to them.
That was my point, no one pays attention to them anymore.

By legitimate threat, I meant exactly the kinds of things you brought up that they no longer do. Staging base for enemy weapons, mercenaries in other countries, providing Soviet technology to partners.
Other countries may trade with North Korea, but they didn’t bail them out last time, we did. A UN embargo would (ok is supposed to) stop the potential partners you mentioned, unlike the US only sanctions on Cuba. It’s very difficult to smuggle an oil tanker, so as long as an Oil-for-food program is not tied to the sanctions, they would be isolated to whatever extent China wants them to be.
Joe, I can’t argue with Marxixt-Leninism being a bad way to run an economy. But Cuba’s main sources of revenue are tourism and agriculture, both of which are much more profitable when the trading partner is close by.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Since Iran and Venezuela can send oil tankers anywhere they like without asking our permission....are you suggesting that the sanctions in question be an actual blockade and embargo enforced, presumably, by the US Navy under UN auspices?

Big difference between sanctions and blockades.
Sanctions people whine about on diplomatic channels, blockades can easily turn hot when NoKo gunboats come out to escort a tanker through the blockading fleet, leaving the blockade force with two options. Lose face, or open fire.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I mashed two ideas into one sentence when referreing to oil tankers and China.
A) Tankers would be a very obvious violation of sanctions, if that is what the UN wanted to impose.
B) Sanctions or embargo would have to be fully supported by China, otherwise they would ship supplies direct. If they were that serious, China’s Navy could enforce the blockade.
You’re absolutely right that having U.S. Navy ships trying to enforce an embargo on N. Korea would be begging for trouble, and if China isn’t serious enough to volunteer, we shouldn’t step in. On the other hand, if NoKo fires on a Chinese vessel, I don’t really care too much as long as China hits the brakes well before the 38th parrallel.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://

 
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