Thursday, October 12, 2006

They shot, but missed

Richard Miniter, Washington Editor at Pajamas Media has a special report on whether the North Korean test was a fake. He suggests that it was genuine, but flawed.

So, was the blast a fake? It is possible but not likely, says a well-placed bureaucratic source. Some intelligence community contrarians suggest that North Korea might have synchronized some 600-800 tons of TNT to explode in a mountainside tunnel. The emerging consensus is that such a trick would be very difficult; getting all of the TNT to explode in the same nanosecond is nearly impossible. ... Possibly the ring of some 12 to 16 conventional bombs designed to create the nuclear implosion misfired, with some detonations occurring too late or not at all, or the design was flawed.

Read the whole thing. (Nothing follows)


Blogger sam said...

So why does it take so long to scrutinize the seismographic data?

The explosion occurs, the seismograph records it. the intelligence officers look at the peaks. Should take all of about 10 - 15 seconds to scrutinize.

10/12/2006 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


My only guess, based on what I have read, is that the data is modified by models which take geological structure and possible spoofing into account. I posted a comment from the chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission (they have a working bomb) which describes the ways in which nuclear powers distort signatures. Of course, this might be assigning too much skill to the North Koreans, but it is the only answer I can think of to your question.

10/12/2006 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

When you brandish a pea-shooter in Dodge City you better make damn sure it don't hang-fire. On the other hand, if Li'l Kim wants to waste 20% of his preciousssssssssssss plutonium every time until he gets it right, maybe we should let him go ahead.

10/12/2006 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

It's hard to know for sure if this nuclear explosion was faked, but I hear our intell agencies are waiting to find out whether Kim smoked a cigarette afterwards.

10/12/2006 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

Dedicated to KIm Jung

The Great Pretender
The Platters

Oh yes, I'm the great pretender
Pretending that I'm doing well
My need is such
I pretend too much
I'm lonely even no one can tell

Oh yes, I'm the great pretender
Adrift in a world of my own
I play the game, but to my real shame
You've left me to dream all alone

10/12/2006 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger bjbarron said...

I think the biggest problem is that the explosion was too small...

A small underground explosion coupled with no radiation means...what exactly?

A dud
a partial
A fake
A test of a very small bomb

It takes a while to figure it out.

I'm voting for a partial. "Something" went off so it wasn't a dud, as noted synchronized conventional explosions are difficult, but not as difficult as creating a working 'small' bomb.

So, a Partial. I suppose we'll know eventually.

10/12/2006 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger Elmondohummus said...

"The emerging consensus is that such a trick would be very difficult; getting all of the TNT to explode in the same nanosecond is nearly impossible."

What? Wait... I didn't think most seismographs had resolutions allowing that sort of discrimination. Am I wrong?

10/12/2006 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard - Another problem was the nuclear yield, if any, was minutely small, as nuclear detonations go. The smaller the yield, the more possible it is to mask and distort seismic signatures. Past a certain yield - you can't hide proof positive you are looking at a nuke or a high speed asteroid.

Teresita - When you brandish a pea-shooter in Dodge City you better make damn sure it don't hang-fire.

The reason you test is so your pea-shooter works with near 100% reliability when you absolutely, positively want to kill a bunch of people or convince others that you could if you wanted to. America had a few fizzles, Russia many, along the way to developing microminiature H-Bombs and those 20 to 50 Megaton monsters we used to have.

Same with missile tests. America has some spectacular footage of "greatest missile blow-ups and crashes" of the 50s and early 60s...but we had to test like crazy because we had to move fast after Sputnik. Failure was welcome in tests if it debugged, showed where improvements could be made, advanced the race to get good MRBMs and ICBMs.

People should not laugh at people with the will to starve a million so they can build powerful weapons. It was hard to take Islamoids seriously after bungled bombings like WTC attack #1, or lapses in security enabled the all-important "Court conviction" to deter others.

Further along the learning curve, the Islamoids nailed the 9/11 Attack and caught America with it's pants down. The recently convicted WTC bombers from 1993 had just been convicted, spared death by a fearful holdout juror believing Muslims would retaliate on him if they gave a death sentence. They were in a jail in Manhattan 5 miles away for more legal motions. They heard the attack had been done to avenge their failure. The men, one who had recently jammed a sharpened comb through a guards eye into his brain - cheered as they heard the news and prayed that many Americans would die to avenge their 1993 test bombing failure...When the estimated death counts of the brothers that got it right - after more than two decades of tests and learning how to conduct Islamic terror indicated 18 -20,000 the terrorists cheered more and retired to pray that it was true.

We ignore tests or let them continue at our folly.

Teresita - On the other hand, if Li'l Kim wants to waste 20% of his preciousssssssssssss plutonium every time until he gets it right, maybe we should let him go ahead.

You don't waste missiles or plutonium in testing. You can always make more - unless you are stopped by other people.

10/12/2006 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Ivan, the Tsar Bomba, 50 megatons, biggest ever.

10/12/2006 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

The emerging consensus is that such a trick would be very difficult; getting all of the TNT to explode in the same nanosecond is nearly impossible."

elmondohummus - What? Wait... I didn't think most seismographs had resolutions allowing that sort of discrimination. Am I wrong?

Yep, they are very, very sensitive! And the propagation time, wavelengths, amplitude of P-waves, etc., is a dead giveaway. High energy events like earthquakes and a massive conventional event like a fertilizer ship blowing up have different, slower propagation times and duration, waves look different. They even have ways to discriminate between a nuclear yield and the only other event with similar characteristics - an asteroid impact.

10/12/2006 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

The original USA estimate of the yield was 57 Mt, but since 1991 all Russian sources have stated its yield as "only" 50 Mt. Nonetheless, Khrushchev warned in a filmed speech to the Communist parliament of the existence of a 100 Mt bomb. The fireball touched the ground, reached nearly as high as the altitude of the release plane, and was seen 1,000 km away. The heat could have caused third degree burns at a distance of 100 km. The subsequent mushroom cloud was about 60 km high and 30–40 km wide. The explosion could be seen and felt in Finland, even breaking windows there.[citation needed] Atmospheric focusing caused blast damage up to 1,000 km away. The seismic shock created by the detonation was measurable even on its third passage around the earth.

Since 50 Mt is 2.1×1017 joules, the average power produced during the entire fission-fusion process, lasting around 3.9×10-8 seconds or 39 nanoseconds, was a power of about 5.3×1024 watts or 5.3 yottawatts. This is equivalent to approximately 1% of the power output of the Sun. The detonation of Tsar Bomba therefore qualifies, even to this day, as being the single most powerful device ever utilized throughout the history of humanity. By contrast, the largest weapon ever produced by the United States, the now-decommissioned B41, had a predicted maximum yield of 25 Mt, and the largest nuclear device ever tested by the USA (Castle Bravo) yielded 15 Mt. Note the recent comparison with asteroid impacts which may have formed the Chicxulub Crater and the Wilkes Land crater, both larger events by some six orders of magnitude.
"Ivan" wiki

10/12/2006 10:55:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

You don't waste missiles or plutonium in testing. You can always make more - unless you are stopped by other people.

This nuclear test has gotten the attention of even the Chinese and EUtopians. It is feasible that the US could bomb the Yongbong (sp.?) reactor with the world's blessing now.

10/13/2006 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

The original USA estimate of the yield was 57 Mt, but since 1991 all Russian sources have stated its yield as "only" 50 Mt.

The radius of damage from nukes goes up with the cube root of the yield. That means a 1000 megaton bomb would only make a crater 10 times the diameter of a 1 megaton bomb. And of course, it could never be weaponized. So it's better to make lots of smaller ones.

10/13/2006 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger Simon Kenton said...

I think it is time for Bush to give justice where it is due. His predecessor, Bill Clinton, and the otherwise unfortunate Madeleine Albright, successfully planted saboteurs in the NORK nuke development program. It would be gracious of him to admit this, as they are now not getting much other credit for their foreign policy.

10/13/2006 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Yes, and there are thousands of these plants, they're known as the "North Korean Nuclear Weapons Industry".

10/13/2006 06:46:00 AM  
Blogger charlotte said...

We inserted plants? Why didn't we just help Kim crocus and begonia?

10/13/2006 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff M said...

Michael Goldfarb over at the Weekly Standard speculates that the Norks may be working on a Hydrogen Bomb and were testing a trigger device.

10/13/2006 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger luc said...

catherine said... 10/13/2006 06:55:58 AM
We inserted plants? Why didn't we just help Kim crocus and begonia?

Now that sort of wit starts to challenge buddy Larsen for the crown ;)

10/13/2006 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger Knucklehead said...


Gotta agree with Luc! That was downright awesome. Buddy?

10/13/2006 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Knucklehead said...


Thanks for the link. According to Wikipedia's entry for Nuclear Artillery, in the US "In 1958 a fusion warhead was developed and tested, the UCRL Swift. It was 622 mm long, 127 mm diameter, and weighed 43.5 kg. At its test it yielded only 190 tons; it failed to achieve fusion and only the initial fission explosion worked correctly."

Donald Sensing (Don't Jeer...) about the various possibilities of success including the development of a tactical scale weapon. Thousands of such weapons in the form of artillery rounds, "mines" (actually more like demolition devices), and (almost certainly) torpedos were produced and deployed by both the US and the Soviets.

At the risk of link whoring and with full admission that I have no expertise and was nowhere near as coherent as the Rev. Sensing, I speculated similarly a Flares Into Darness.

10/13/2006 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Eggplant said...

Buddy Larsen said...

"Ivan, the Tsar Bomba, 50 megatons, biggest ever."

If the Soviets had used a U-238 tamp rather than a lead tamp on the Tsar Bomba then it would have doubled the explosive yield to 100 megatons. However the fallout would have killed thousands of Soviet citizens. The development of MIRV delivery systems made weapons like the Tsar Bomba useful only for propaganda purposes.

I still suspect the NorK "nuclear" weapons test was a fuel-air detonation in a mine shaft. Why they did this is still beyond my understanding.

10/13/2006 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Luc and Knucklehead,

Buddy's the prince of pun and I'm just a veggie gardener who gets corny sometimes.

Jeff M's Goldfarb article together with this, and added to France's attempt to downplay the test as a fizzle, should make us more suspicious than ever.

At any rate, whether we suspect a secret nuke program or a country openly declares intent and makes claims, we have to assume the worst. We're no longer in a position to rely on CIA and IAEA estimates, given the agencies' track records on this score and how they've sold at least some of their cred for political haymaking.

Bush is right to say, "The United States is working to confirm North Korea's claim, but this claim itself constitutes a threat to international peace and stability." Still, what can we do, other than encourage Japan to acquire a more muscular posture and mil capability and incentivize and obliquely threaten various Chinese interests? The South Koreans feel extremely vulnerable to Nork retaliation and worry about any measures we might take that could provoke Dear Leader.

Perhaps with other countries we'll impose a partial to full naval blockade on the tyrant regime, after having secured SoKo cooperation and tacit Chinese approval, and do this before addressing the Iranian threat. Will it work and also help us strategically situate ourselves where we need to be over the next number of years, or would we be tying ourselves down, tying up resources, and stringing ourselves out too thin?

Meanwhile, we're going to be facing the big what if after Musharraf steps/is pushed down. All in all, would have been better had history "ended" instead of mutating and lingering so rudely.

10/13/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The Weekly Standard
The Dear Leader's
Little Nuke

Was North Korea's low-yield test explosion really a failure? Maybe not.

by Michael Goldfarb
10/12/2006 3:45:00 PM

10/13/2006 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The Weekly Standard

Although the Pakistanis claimed to have detonated five bombs (likely an attempt to demonstrate parity with India), only two detonations were confirmed by seismic activity in the area, and this seismic activity showed the tests were conducted as much as 80 miles away from one another. The second test produced a much smaller blast in the subkiloton range.

According to Pike, there is reason to suspect that this second blast, in 1998, might have been carried out by the North Koreans. This speculation is based on the fact that a number of North Koreans were on hand for these tests, and seen leaving the country immediately after. Also the Pakistanis' first blast was captured on video and played for news outlets around the world, while a veil of secrecy surrounded the subsequent, smaller test.

Is it possible that this latest North Korean provocation was neither a failure nor a first test? Pike believes that may be the case. If the test was of a "trigger device" rather than a conventional fission bomb, one would expect a yield of less than 1 kiloton. A trigger device is the primary, fission explosion needed to initiate fusion in a thermonuclear weapon, otherwise known as a hydrogen bomb. The United States staged numerous tests for devices of this type in the 1960s, resulting in similarly small blasts. If the North Korean nuclear program was geared toward the development of fusion-based thermonuclear weapons rather than fission-based atomic weapons, one might expect the results of early tests to look much different that the first atomic tests by the United States, Russia, or India--all of which had programs that were originally designed to produce fission weapons. ..."

10/13/2006 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger warhorse said...

catherine said... 10/13/2006 06:55:58 AM
We inserted plants? Why didn't we just help Kim crocus and begonia?

Wouldn't have worked. He'd just have rose up again to peonie ...

10/13/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Guess you're right, Warhorse.

But the nuclear freesia hasn't worked, either. Our impatiens may soon beget violets that will uproot that man from power.

Maybe we should use some daisy cutters and leaf the rest to his people.

10/13/2006 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger talnik said...

Suitcase nuke, anyone?

10/13/2006 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

On a similar thread a few days ago, there was speculation that this was a suitcase nuke, which makes more sense. This week's AWST (written before the test) quoted Rummy as saying NorK is more an "active proliferator" than any other threat. The last paragraph explains why it is in NorK's interest to create small weapons rather than something they themselves would put on a missile to attack others:

"I can't see that it would accomplish any of North Korea's objectives. It would mean an instant end to Kim Jong Il and his regime, because misiles have return addresses," the weapons expert says. "A launch would cause an instant retaliation that would end the regime. A missile launch is way down my list of concerns. My greatest concern is the export of nuclear material and/or hands-on technical know-how. It's the proliferation of North Korean material and knowledge, not the fact they possess the bomb that [worries] me."

Fox News is reporting that air tests have found traces of radiation.

Axis of Evil, anyone?

10/13/2006 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

Fox News is reporting that air tests have found traces of radiation.

Of course. The tectonic and isotopal skepticism was threatening to take the momentum out of the Presidents drive for sanctions. First it was Russian and South Korea that were playing up the test. Pretty soon it will just be the US and Japan that believe in the successful test and everyone else will say Li'l Kim boofed it so we should go back to the status quo.

10/13/2006 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Nothing surprising in the following, but Gerard Baker (Times Online, HT Instapundit) does work in a wonderful "This is, essentially, drivel" and entitle his piece, "The Price of Shillyshallying." Excerpts:

"...There’s no good strategic reason for Pyongyang even to claim to have a nuclear weapon, as China, Israel, Pakistan and India had.

"It will be the first nuclear power to be headed by a crazed monomaniac who boasts of his commercial interest in shipping nuclear weapons to terrorist groups...

"...Confronted with the growing probability of nuclear attack, the US will reorient its own military nuclear capabilities towards a more tactical stance. The currently sky-high threshold for a US nuclear attack will be lowered sharply to take account of the new threats. That in itself will prompt a beggar-my-neighbour downward global shift in the conditions under which the bomb might be used and an upward shift in the probability of nuclear strikes.

"How did we get into this scary state? Of course the world’s pundits are sure it is all America’s fault...

"This is, essentially, drivel. The problem with North Korea has not been an insufficiency of multilateralist diplomacy in the past ten years but an overabundance. Beginning in 1994, the Clinton Administration started the US down a course of an engagement with Pyongyang that was all carrots and no sticks. Every time the North Koreans thumbed their noses at the US and its allies, they were punished with — what? Sharp intakes of breath and shakes of the head.

"Not only was the US unwilling to make good on its threats, but effective multilateral action also required serious efforts by other countries with real leverage over North Korea to do something. But for the past six years China has been playing a dangerous double game. It never wanted North Korea to become a nuclear power but it was quite happy that its ally kept the US, Japan and South Korea off balance with its burgeoning ambitions.

"The same story of hand-wringing futility has been played out with Iran. Russia and China have both placed short-term diplomatic and commercial gain over long-term stability. The Europeans were, well, European...

...Now, belatedly, the talk is of tough UN sanctions against Iran and North Korea. But it is too late. Out of a combination of fear, opportunism and cynicism, the world’s so-called powers have ridden a tiger for the past decade. Now the tiger has turned on them..."

10/13/2006 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Non-Suitcase Nuke

10/14/2006 06:27:00 AM  
Blogger warhorse said...

LOL ... I bower to your horticultural superiority, Catherine, and pledge to stand on garden for thee, evermore. :-)

10/14/2006 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff M said...

For those who missed it, Richard Miniter wrote and excellent piece on suitcase nukes for the Wall Street Journal.

10/14/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

jeff m

We are not talking about using off the shelf Russian technology, but duplicating 1954 US tech.

The W54 warhead used on the Davy Crockett weighed just 51 pounds and was the smallest and lightest fission bomb (implosion type) ever deployed by the United States, with a variable explosive yield of 0.01 kilotons (equivalent to 10 tons of TNT, or two to four times as powerful as the ammonium nitrate bomb which destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995), or 0.02 kilotons-1 kiloton. A 58.6 pound variant, the B54, was used in the Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM), a nuclear land mine deployed in Europe, South Korea, Guam, and the United States from 1964-1989.

The war head in the Davy Crockett delivery mode:
The Davy Crockett consisted of an XM-388 projectile launched from either a 120-millimeter (XM-28) or 155-millimeter (XM-29) recoilless rifle (the 120 millimeter version is shown above). This weapon had a maximum range of 1.24 miles (120 millimeter) to 2.49 miles (155 millimeter). The XM-388 casing (including the warhead and fin assembly) weighed 76 pounds, was 30 inches long and measured 11 inches in diameter (at its widest point). ...
... In Little Feller I on July 17, a Davy Crockett was fired from a stationary 155 millimeter launcher (in tandem with simulated battlefield manuevers under Operation IVY FLATS) and detonated about 20 feet above the ground at a distance of 9,357 feet (1.7 miles) from the launch point (yield was 18 tons). This test, the last atmospheric detonation at the Nevada Test Site, was observed by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and presidential adviser General Maxwell D. Taylor. Footage of Operation IVY FLATS was declassified by the Department of Energy on December 22, 1997.

This is what the NorKs are trying for, more than likely.
A 60 pound variable output, from .01 to 1 kiloton, nuclear device.

10/14/2006 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

That could be mounted on a Katusha rocket.

10/14/2006 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Desert Rat -

You can come up with 100 and 1 reasons why radical Islamists can get WMD and why we are 'helpless', and for Lefties and liberals - why building missiles or having missile defense is "pointless" given a "crack squad" can get a bomb in w/o a missile and bypass all missile defense.

But there are reasons why both the US and Soviets adhered to the so-called 4th Protocol and did not use SEAL or Spetznaz teams to try and smuggle in the 70-lb small bombs that both powers had. That use would not be enough to take out the 300 or so targets on either side needed to "de-fang" the opponent - the other being simple detection alone of such a smuggling operation would likely trigger global thermonuclear war since we couldn't be sure that bombs were waiting in-country already and a First Strike would be better in a violation of the 4th Protocol than waiting.

The hysteria over the Muslim suitcase nuke is presumed on present possession of nukes, buying stuff for one, or eventually a state or from scratch terror group effort will result in the Muslim version of SEAL or Spetsnaz Teams bringing them in, because they are "undeterrable" and no defense will stop them. Neocons point for this as reason that the US must invade and occupy a long list of Muslim countries and "democratize them" for that excuse...liberals say the undeterrable Jihad is the reason why missile defense is fruitless and advocate "inspecting every cargo container but somehow also are against any Border fence as a violation of immigrant rights. Others point out the whole loose "suitcase nukes story" is crap.(And Miniter's column is pretty bad - he should have had a nuke expert look at the column and correct the 20 or so technical errors I found in it)

The point is we deterred a fanatical foe from using it's formidable nuke, chem, and virulent biowar capacity simply by saying Geneva doesn't apply in a WMD situation - we will kill as many of your innocent civilians as we can if you try it, for 40 years, that stopped the Soviets cold.

In fact, biowar is far more of an easier path Jihadis can take to achieve mass infidel death than building a nuke. The Soviets produced 100's of tons of anthrax and listeria spores in a facility the size of a pocket industrial park in 3 buildings the size of Bush donor's McMansions.

What we need for Muslims is to get the message out that they will be deterred, like it or not, with the 4th protocol applied to them. Any detection of a plot or smuggling effort, let alone actual biowar or sneak nuke attack will be met with thermonuclear warheads intended on killing millions to hundreds of millions of Muslims in a retaliatory strike.

So far, that sort of deterrence has not been transmitted by the US or NATO. It should be debated by the public. Yes, the sanctity of enemy civilian life is important, but that sanctity should be considered gone if Paris, the Vatican, London, DC or even just one major Western city is hit.

The moral course, I think, is to prevent any such attack from happening, and thus saving innocents, by being very clear on the repercussions - which would be unbridled enemy civilian slaughter if ours were attacked with WMD. Right now, I believe that Muslims believe the West is iron-clad restrained by Geneva and Laws of War from ever targeting Muslim populations, while they consider their Jihadis bound only by Qu'ran..

Details could be worked out - the proposed thermonuclear strikes could be limited, could target just one "example nation" for nuclear destruction, could call for 10X the death "portable terrorist nukes/smallpox/anthrax" inflicted, could call for equivalent death plus nuclear destruction of Mecca, or get into Wretchard's 1X10^9 territory.

And tell them if they just get caught providing WMD to terrorists or a smuggling of WMD is detected, one Muslim city and all it's innocent civilians and little babies gets "sun-fried" as a penalty, and the Al Quds Mosque in Jerusalem gets demolished - and if there is ever a "next time" 2 cities get fried and Medina gets a 1-megaton bomb to eradicate it as a holy site.

I just don't buy the "Muslims with WMD are undeterrable" argument. Sure they are. If the price they would pay is right to deter.

10/14/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

And tell them if they just get caught providing WMD to terrorists or a smuggling of WMD is detected, one Muslim city and all it's innocent civilians and little babies gets "sun-fried" as a penalty, and the Al Quds Mosque in Jerusalem gets demolished


While I would agree that deterring Muslims isn't necessarily a lost cause, putting our faith in a modern 4th Protocol may not be the answer.

We're not living in the Cold War era, anymore. We've "advanced." Certainly, many of us here would like to see those squishy Republicans and nearly every Democrat get some spine and sign on to policy that promises devastating retaliation against large populations in the event of a bio strike in Chicago or our uncovering a plot to dirty-bomb Manhattan. But we're not going to get it.

At best, we have one of your least favorite Presidents, Bush, probably threatening some scary stuff behind the scenes and a public here that'll be out for blood post any successful large strike Stateside. Even then, there will be attribution and proportional response freaks holding us back, lawyers and humanitarians keeping us "civilized," and our enemies count on it.

During the Cold War we dwelled on preventing nuclear hell through intell, sabotage, brinkmanship, arms build-up, bone-headed freeze movements and geo-political gaming beside MAD. The big threat alone did not work, even in a time in which the US knew very specifically its target audience and most of our politicians at least pretended to put America first. Now, the target is diffuse with state sponsorship of enemy groups more hidden, and too many American politicians pretend to put humanity first.

So prevention to the best of our ability is still key, through intell, carrot and stick diplomacy (emphasis on stick), defense and security, geo/ ideological reform or containment, strategic alliances and strong threats by American leaders made and acted upon without consideration for UN approval. But that last one can be the weakest weapon in our arsenal, given that it not only depends on the party in power and persons at the helm, but of our enemies' perception of them.

10/14/2006 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

C4, I do not disagree but no such Policy has been debated or announced.
Paris is, according to some accounts, in the midst of a 'civil war'. There may be some license used in that description though.

A one kiloton blast in Rome or Kiev, striking at the Christian heartland? How about a kiloton blast in Baghdad?

Massive over powering response?
or EU submission and chaos.

Russia on the rise
Ride Cossack Ride

10/14/2006 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

One politician mention disproportionate response ONE time and was shouted down by the Powers that be.

So that idea, C4, is a long way from Policy

Posted: July 15, 2005
5:00 p.m. Eastern

By Art Moore
© 2005

Rep. Tom Tancredo
Clarifying remarks from a radio interview that drew praise from some supporters, Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said he was not suggesting that the U.S. should bomb the Islamic holy site Mecca as a response to a nuclear homeland attack by al-Qaida.

The congressman's press secretary told WorldNetDaily the comments were an off-the-cuff response to a hypothetical situation.

"He doesn't believe that we should go out and threaten to bomb anybody's holy city," said spokesman Will Adams. ...

...The host asked Tancredo, "Worst case scenario, if they do have these nukes inside the border, what would our response be?"

The congressman replied: "There are things you could threaten to do before something like that happens, and then you have to do afterwards, that are quite draconian."

"Well," Tancredo continued, "what if you said something like, 'If this happens in the United States and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you could take out their holy sites.'"

Campbell: "You're talking about bombing Mecca?"

Tancredo: "Yeah. What if you said, we recognize that this is the ultimate threat to the United States, therefore this is the ultimate response."

The congressman quickly added, "I don't know, I'm just throwing out some ideas, because it seems that at that point in time you would be talking about taking the most draconian measures you could imagine. Because other than that, all you could do is tighten up internally."

10/14/2006 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Now that radioactivity has been detected another possibility has occurred to me: a dirty bomb.

People think of dirty bombs as being nuclear waste being scattered by a convnetional explosive. But a far more effective dirty bomb would be nuclear material scattered by a small nuke - a deliberate misfire, so to speak - as in a small Pu weapon with a jacket of Uranium 238. Easier to build than a larger bombs and less critical as to targeting.

Using a bomb casing of U-238 was a common practice back in the 50's since the csaing could contribute to the nuclear reaction - this was abandoned, partly because of the increased fallout - but if that feature is what you want....

10/15/2006 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...


A dirty bomb is not even a real WMD. What was contemplated and rejected in the Cold War was mass production of long-lived radioisotopes that could "salt" lands and keep troops away or make cities uninhabitable long after a war was over. There was some interest in having bombs that produced more deadly fallout, but more lethality was guaranteed simply by making nukes bigger or MIRV-ing warheads.

The use of U-238 was for fusion bombs to add a 3rd stage to boost power to get fast fissions of U-238. The "dirtier" nature of those 3-stage fission-fusion-fission bombs was from the fission fragments created by additional U-238 fission, not U-238 itself, which is pretty much low-toxicity, harmlessly radioactive stuff, despite what the "DU alarmists of the Left" would have people believe.

In a straight fission bomb, sheathing it with U-238 as pretty useless. Neutrons from U-235 fission lack the energy to cause U-238 just causes resonant absorbtion and capture of the neutron by U-238.

People miss perspective on nukes vs. dirty bombs. The worst dirty bomb would use 10-20K curies of radioistope like cesium - it would be screamingly radioactive and likely detectable by the covert national set of rad monitors we have emplaced...And a dirty bomb would likely not kill anyone past the conventional explosive blast and shrapnel released - just make for an expensive cleanup - and the Bushies still resist telling us folks involved in this issue if cleanup will be the Civil Defense standard or the hideously costly and delaying EPA standard.

A nuclear bomb produces 1.6 MILLION curies per every kiloton of explosive power released by fission. So, if radioactive contamination is your goal - you want more fissions, not neutrons that could be lost by absorptions. That is why after you do a 1st gen prototype, all your weapon goals are focused into learning from that yield and using reflectors, boosters like Polonium or tritium to increase neutrons available for fission - to get 2nd Gen. Then try for size reduction or H-bombs, both Gen 3 devices that require major rounds of testing after Gen 1 and Gen 2 devices are perfected.

The idea that the NORKs are trying for ultra-sophisticated mini-nukes useless for self-defense to start with or a failed nuke useful as a dirty bomb doesn't seem to be logical.

On another topic:

Interesting article by James Bowman, one of many that argues that the Bushies adopted the wrong paradigm in attempting to bring freedom and democracy lacking honor to an honor culture..

10/15/2006 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

I recalled that some bombs used to have U-238 casinsg, but not that those were thremonukes, thanks for the clarification.

But I still think that a small, inefficient nuke would be a better dirty bomb than one powered by conventional explosives. You get a two for one. A lot of bang plus a comparitively large amount of fallout. And without more techncial effort than buildinag regular nuke. Unless of course, you want to go to the trouble to create isotopes of cobalt or strontium some other nasty stuff designed for long-term persistance - such as McArthur's proposed nuclear fence across the North Korea/Red China border.

It is true that there are Cindy Sheehan-style nuts running around describing the "nuclear devastation" accompanying our A-10 and tank depleted uranium rounds. A friend sent me an e-mail from some supposed Phd claiming that the "3 nuclear wars" we have fought - presumably Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and Afghanistan - have caused a huge increase in birth defects across Europe. How these idiots can blame that situation - if it even exists, which I doubt - on highly localized battlefield depleted Uranium use thousands of miles away that did not reach the upper atmosphere - and while ignoring Chernobyl 20 years ago is beyond me.

10/15/2006 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

RWE - But I still think that a small, inefficient nuke would be a better dirty bomb than one powered by conventional explosives. You get a two for one. A lot of bang plus a comparitively large amount of fallout. And without more techncial effort than buildinag regular nuke.

The amount of radioactivity is a direct function of how much you manage to fission the critical mass of uranium or plutonium. A fizzle means far less blast, and far less radioactivity. There is no reason for a bomb designer to want to create a failed nuclear bomb - because all lethal effects - blast, heat, radiation - are diminished.

There is no "two for one" with a deliberate "failed" A-bomb design. It's basically "O for 3". No blast, no incendiery effect, no appreciable generation of curies.

It is only when you get into 3-stage weapons that you get any real lethality from fallout. No one was killed at Hiroshima or Nagasaki by fallout from those tiny (comparatively speaking) bombs. Direct radiation, yes, but not fallout. And many excess deaths due to that radiation happened decades later - irrelevant to war-fighting or even terrorism.

The neutron bomb is basically a sophisticated H-bomb that has a very small primary (fission pit) enough to get fusion, and use the high speed neutron from fusion not to do fissioning, but penetrate armor and kill crews with direct neutron hits and gammas from inelastic neutron scattering (neutrons cause higher atomic numbered atoms like iron to absorb energy but shed it with gamma rays emitted, lower mass atoms like hydrogen or oxygen just absorb neurton energy as kinetic energy). The attraction of the neutron bomb is that it is only about 5-10 kilotons, that it's fusion direct radiation kills far past the lethal blast radius, so it kills armor crews in the open that would survive - but leaves little long-lasting radioactivity. Not something easy to make (it took America 35 years and a series of tests to get it)

Yes. a fizzle nuke bomb that has 200 tons of explosive power certainly would be a better people-killer than a conventional one-ton bomb with 5,000 curies of radiactivity tossed around...but only because even a failed nuke is a massively destructive beast of warfare...but why shoot for something 100 times less radioactive and destructive than a fully functioning nuke that really gets your money's worth from the PU or U-235 put into the bomb?

As for the reaction, a fizzle would not stop the US from full thermonuclear reaction. It would still be adequate cause to seek the utter destruction of a foe with no Geneva constraints factored into the war fighting. Which would be a spectacularly bad move if you use a 200-ton bomb and get 20-25 600KT thermonuclear bombs dropped on you in return, as a consequence. For that reason, we seek to ensure N Korea or the Islamoids are deterred. They hit us with even a dozen devices and we survive as a nation and civilization, but the cost to either from an unrestrained superpower is almost too horrific to describe (Wretchards 1X10^6 to 1X10^9 range for Muslims, or up to 20 of the current 22 million (the current NORK population)

10/15/2006 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

A fizzle means far less blast, and far less radioactivity. There is no reason for a bomb designer to want to create a failed nuclear bomb-

Unless he's a nuclear fizzleist :)

Good tutorial, Cedarford. Are you a physicist?

10/15/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

It looks like the NORKs did get the bomb to produce some percentage of fissile (atomic reaction).

Whether it was a small bomb that worked or a large bomb that "fizzed" it's bad news.

The NORKs will eventually learn from their mistakes and make modern atomic bomb (possible a two stage device).

As for the geopolitical fallout, I think that the Chinese would not mind NK having a nuke to use against Japan, Taiwan, or South Korea. The Chinese have no great love for any of those countries.

And, now that the Chinese have Hong Kong under their control why not stoke the war machine fire against the above countries? The Chinese could due without Taiwan, Japan or S. Korea.

10/15/2006 09:31:00 PM  

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