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North Korea Air Sample Shows Radiation

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the what-went-boom? dept.

543

Apocalypse111 writes, "According to CNN.com, air samples taken over North Korea have not yet shown any radiation from the event on Monday that North Korea claims was a nuclear test. This is not definitive proof that the event was non-nuclear, as it may either have been so small and deep that it did not let any radioactive debris escape, or perhaps the North Koreans sealed the site." Furthering speculation over whether North Korea has actually exploded a nuclear device, vk38 writes to point out a (free) article in today's Wall Street Journal claiming that the blast could have been set off by exploding fertilizer (ammonium nitrate). The article points to the Texas City disaster of 1947, in which 7,700 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded in the hold of a ship with the estimated power of 2 to 4 kilotons of TNT.
Update: 10/14 08:03 GMT by Z : The story at CNN has been updated: "A preliminary analysis of air samples from North Korea shows 'radioactive debris consistent with a North Korea nuclear test,' according to a statement from the office of the top U.S. intelligence official."

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543 comments

Blow me (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430053)

gook fags!

Oh my gawd (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430055)

OMG, they perfected Cold Fusion!

Of course they don't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430059)

Because they are lying. They used TNT.

Re:Of course they don't (2, Funny)

spillingvoid (1011289) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430123)

I agree. The guy lies so much that it is impossible to tell whats going on. Though I do hope he bursts in to flames tonight for no reason.

Re:Of course they don't (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430245)

Maybe just his pants will.

Bush Lies Again (3, Funny)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430567)

Damn that Bush -- another false claim of WMD.

Just because NKorea is also falsely claiming they're real, doesn't mean that Bush can slander them by agreeing.

Re:Bush Lies Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430617)

DO you READ the news? N Korea claim they detonated a nuke! Bush had nothing to do with this one! I hate the man as much as anyone, but you can't blame everything on him.

Re:Of course they don't (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430129)

Yeah, I hear they blasted AC/DC's TNT in such a high volume inside that cave it made the whole place tremble.

Re:Of course they don't (0)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430361)

I say fertilizer. Tens of millions of $$'s worth of food and agri-supplies are sent to North Korea as "humanitarian aid" each year. It's clear they're not using it to grow food for their own, starving population. According to the (Quaker) Friends Committee on National Legislation (http://www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=226&i ssue_id=34)
In 1995 North Korea made its first public appeal for aid. A 1998 survey found 62 percent of children under the age of seven chronically malnourished and sixteen percent acutely malnourished. An estimated 200,000 to two million people died in the famine.
Massive international assistance of both food and fertilizer has greatly improved food security. Most of the humanitarian aid is distributed by the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The U.S. has responded generously to WFP appeals for North Korea, and in most years has made the largest contribution.
So it appears the NKs, rather than use the fertilizer we give them to feed their starving populace, would rather blow it up as a bluff to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the United Nations and create instability, and power shifts in the region.

Choreography! (3, Funny)

Malakusen (961638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430093)

Maybe all the North Koreans jumped up and down at the same time.

Re:Choreography! (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430281)

Maybe all the North Koreans jumped up and down at the same time.

Oddly enough, external microphones on the jet picked up something that sounded like singing... "I'm so wronery..."

Hardware? (5, Funny)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430095)

I think it's funny that this article is under the Hardware section. Maybe we could get Tom's Hardware to produce a 25-page full benchmark test of this nuclear explosion v. competing nuclear tests, and then we'll really get to the bottom of this.

Re:Hardware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430215)

Hardware is close enough, IMO. The nature of the topic is about a (non)working weapon/device, right? Hardware doesn't have to be strictly about physical computer architecture.

But it's much better than finding it under YRO. I've seen a lot of odd choices for YRO.

Halifax Explosion! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430103)

Pfft, Canada does accidental explosions best: Halifax Explosion:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_Explosion [wikipedia.org] Atleast 200kTons there...

Re:Halifax Explosion! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430359)

Holy cow! When you read a report that says the pressure wave snapped trees you know it had power. For comparison, the pressure wave from Hiroshima wasn't powerful enough to snap trees (other than the ones in the immediate vicinity of ground zero of which it instantly incinerated them).

Re:Halifax Explosion! (4, Informative)

nasor (690345) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430551)

The Halifax explosion was only around 2 kt, two orders of magnitude less than the 200 kt figure that you claim.

Instead of very large accidental explosions, it might be a bit more topical to talk about known instances in the past where nations have deliberately simulated nuclear bombs with conventional explosives, like the 4 kt Minor Scale experiment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_Scale_(explosio n) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Halifax Explosion! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430609)

And that's nothing compared to Tsar bomba [wikipedia.org] . 50 MEGATONS, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. Those Russians really know how to destroy stuff.

In Other News (2, Insightful)

CodeArtisan (795142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430105)

Iran has also exploded a nuclear bomb. Or something. We're not really sure. Coulda been anything really.

Seriously though - is this really news ? Shouldn't we wait until it's confirmed one way or the other before it makes sense to comment on it ?

Re:In Other News (2, Insightful)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430147)

Why would it be on slashdot, or any other social news site, then?

Re:In Other News (1)

CodeArtisan (795142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430309)

Why would it be on slashdot, or any other social news site, then?

Exactly. Why would it be ? That was my question. "Too early to tell" is just a non-story.

We Don't Need No Stinking Evidence! (0)

twmcneil (942300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430461)

... so the Bush Administration says.

They never bothered with it before, why bother with it now? I mean evidence just detracts from the issues they are pushing.

Re:We Don't Need No Stinking Evidence! (2, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430585)

... so the Bush Administration says.

They never bothered with it before, why bother with it now? I mean evidence just detracts from the issues they are pushing.


So let's see... you're saying that if we got back a first round of air samples, and the only way you heard one way or the other about it was through some leak, you wouldn't be complaining about the lack of transparency? Well, which is it? Do you want the data as it comes, NASA-style, or do you want to wait while the DoD and DoE and other agencies chew on it for some indeterminate time and make what may never be a conclusive conclusion? For everyone here that bitches about not getting enough raw info from the government about what's happening with crazies like NK, it seems that no good deed goes unpunished. Or, were you just looking to bash, no matter what happened or didn't?

Wellllll..... Poker anyone? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430471)

In Other News

Iran has also exploded a nuclear bomb. Or something. We're not really sure. Coulda been anything really. Seriously though - is this really news ? Shouldn't we wait until it's confirmed one way or the other before it makes sense to comment on it ?

Could it just be bluffing? If so, does this mean the sanctions and all are going to blow back into the face of Mr. Kim (Dear Leader) Jong Il? Can't see that going down too well. Losing something for nothing and making Japan more militaristic, after all these years. Nope, can't see anyone as a winner if that's their game.

Re:In Other News (4, Insightful)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430599)

I think the news is that there is still *no* confirmation. North Korea said they were going to test a nuclear bomb, there was an explosion, and AFAIK, they claimed success. However, we're a week out and we are still not sure.

So yes, we should know by now, but we don't. This is news.

Re:In Other News (1)

bigsimes (737788) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430715)

Seriously though - is this really news ? Shouldn't we wait until it's confirmed one way or the other before it makes sense to comment on it ?

Oblig: You must be new here.

If North Korea says so... (4, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430133)

Are we justified sanctioning and otherwise punishing it, even if it lied?

This is more than an abstract question (like the famous "if a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there...").

Saddam's Hussein downfall was (at least partially) brought about by his insinuating that he still has WMDs privately — to keep neighbors in fear, soldiers brave, and citizens proud, while claiming loudly, that he got rid of them all (which turned out to be true, after all)...

Re:If North Korea says so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430345)

"that he got rid of them all (which turned out to be true, after all)..."

They found 500 so far. Yeah, they are old and rusty, but they are specifically of the type that were prohibited, they are WMD due to their containing active chem/bio agents, they are the type that the inspectors were looking for, and they are of the type that he "officially" claimed were all gone. No, he didn't get rid of them all. He was still sitting on a large stockpile. I would venture a guess that there are plenty more, too.

Re:If North Korea says so... (1)

deathy_epl+ccs (896747) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430479)

They found 500 so far. Yeah, they are old and rusty, but they are specifically of the type that were prohibited, they are WMD due to their containing active chem/bio agents, they are the type that the inspectors were looking for, and they are of the type that he "officially" claimed were all gone. No, he didn't get rid of them all. He was still sitting on a large stockpile. I would venture a guess that there are plenty more, too.

Huh. I must've missed that press release. I'd have thought that they'd still be trumpeting that one as loud as they could. You wouldn't happen to have a link to an article on that, would you? I'm really curious how I missed it...

Re:If North Korea says so... (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430621)

I've heard this before, even from some fairly reputable sources, but like you say, until the GOP starts the blairing trumpets, I'm going to be skeptical.

Re:If North Korea says so... (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430373)

actually he never really inferred that at all. Even without WMD Iraq is no cakewalk (as we see in present day).

The intel for WMD is allegely supposed to have come from Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who was tortured after being reditioned. He later claimed he lied under torture.

Re:If North Korea says so... (5, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430407)

Are we justified sanctioning and otherwise punishing it, even if it lied?

Well, consider this: if someone comes to you and says "hey, I just crapped in your locker" without laughing, what do you do? either you punch him in the face rightaway for having crapped in your locker, or you don't believe him, look inside your locker, discover no turd, then turn around and punch him in the face for being a stupid asshole. Either way, you punch him in the face.

Re:If North Korea says so... (2, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430431)

"what do you do? either you punch him in the face rightaway for having crapped in your locker, or you don't believe him..."

Why, I bomb the locker for a few weeks and then send in 150,000 troops. What else could I possible DO in a situation like this???

Re:If North Korea says so... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430489)

Recently translated documents captured when we invaded Iraq strongly indicate that when Hussein "got rid of them" he really just shipped them over the border into Syria. He certainly shipped lots of _something_ there shortly before the invasion. He shipped some of whatever it was by truck, some by Russian airplanes. At any rate, after the '91 war, he agreed to _destroy_ them in a way that could be verified by inspectors, not just "get rid of them all." He never did destroy them all in a way that could be verified by inspectors.

Re:If North Korea says so... (3, Insightful)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430497)

"If you dislike Bush, you should abhor Chavez [umb.edu]"

OT, but good call. Can you imagine what people would have done if Bush had given a big loud speech blaming Jews for all the evil in the world for the last 2,000 years? Chavez did this. Or if Bush made a public speech with crude sexist comments about foreign female diplomats? Chavez did this (about Rice). Or, to show how petty he was, Bush passed laws to force all the radio stations in the country to play only the music he personally liked? Chavez did this...

I guess this proves the rule "A fascist dictator is my friend if he happens to hate George W. Bush".

The dictator who cried "nuclear" (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430539)

Are we justified sanctioning and otherwise punishing it, even if it lied?

No yelling "FIRE!" in crowded theatres, no yelling "A-Bomb!" at the UN.

Sanctions? (3, Insightful)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430137)

The ironic thing is, the nations of the world are looking to impose sanctions - but can we really impose sanctions if it turns out it wasnt a nuke in the first place?

Re:Sanctions? (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430289)

Yes

Should I be arrested for calling you every night and threaten to shoot you and your children, even if I don't actually own a gun?

The fact that North Korea is saying they have nukes is threat enough to warrant attention.

Re:Sanctions? (1)

O'Laochdha (962474) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430401)

The difference is that that's a matter of threat, a separate crime in most jurisdictions. (Indeed, in many it would be punishable only by a restraining order, or even not at all.) North Korea is not threatening to attack anyone unless sanctions are imposed. This is coercion, and that only becomes a problem when there's a real threat of sanctions, which were allegedly a response to nuclear weapons. If there are no nuclear weapons, there's no reason to impose sanctions, and I imagine that the UN will forbid it, but the US will ignore them.

Re:Sanctions? (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430557)

Should I be arrested for calling you every night and threaten to shoot you and your children, even if I don't actually own a gun?

You mean threaten to shoot you and your children if you or your children go into his yard.

I can call you every day and tell you this fact if you enter my private property (aka National Sovereignty) that I'm going to shoot you. Heck... I might get into trouble if I don't post this information on my fence.

But the key issue here is whether or not North Korea has a bomb, but rather they still are pretty damned good with that combat knife... And if your kid happens to be named Seoul, I wouldn't let him wander into anyone's yard any time soon.

Re:Sanctions? (3, Insightful)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430291)

What exactly would you saction?

The are already starving, lack electricity in 95% of the country, are almost completely uneducated, and make most starving African nations look rich in comparison.

They quite literally have nothing to lose, which is very sad.

Re:Sanctions? (1)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430385)

They quite literally have nothing to lose, which is very sad.

Yes, but "they" (i.e., the 95% of North Koreans who have diddly squat) also have zero power to make decisions. Those in power have plenty to lose.

Re:Sanctions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430367)

The ironic thing is, the nations of the world are looking to impose sanctions


No, I don't think there will be any sanctions against the US for violating the air space of a sovereign country.

Isn't this like a fairy tale? (4, Funny)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430141)

I have nukes!

No you don't

Boom!

That wasn't a nuke!

Boom!

Sorry, just don't believe you!

Boom!

No no.. never. That was just gas.

errrr.

Oh.. you used all your material and you are out now?

(reminds me of puss and boots with the mouse).

Re:Isn't this like a fairy tale? (1)

Kidbro (80868) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430601)

#62705 [bash.org] +(57)- [X]
<toe2toe> the part i like is where IRAQ's going "we got nothing"
<toe2toe> and US is going "PFFFT WE'RE GONNA TAKE YOU OUT"
<toe2toe> and then
<toe2toe> North Koreas going "CHECK OUT OUR NUKES, BUDDY"
<toe2toe> and US is going "Hey... are you iraq? no? THEN STAY OUT OF IT"

It doesn't matter (2, Insightful)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430167)

For years they guy has been openly claiming to be working on a bomb. The fact that he does not unambiguously have one yet is astounding.

With all the information that is public, it *is* trivial to create a bomb. Access to plutonium, which he has, is the hard part.

I hate to introduce politics, but it has to be said, Saddam maybe, could have, possibly, been working on something, if you look at the intelligence "just so." North Korea, has been openly saying they are working on these bombs. North Korea sells arms to our enemies. I blame Bush on all counts. The guy is all about acquiring power, but without the wisdom or honor to use it well.

I am remeinded if Bill Maher, Usually you have an administration that is corrupt or one that is inept. The Bush administration is both.

Re:It doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430377)

Editorializing on whether someone likes the current administration is informative? Sigh.

Re:It doesn't matter (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430379)

Yup, it's all Bush's fault. I guess it was Karl Rove that mind controlled Bill Clinton into appeasing North Korea, giving them billions of our tax dollars in return for broken promises.

You loony libs can't get your story straight. Bush is an evil tyrant for liberating Iraq from Saddam, yet he's an evil tyrant for not liberating North Korea. The day Bush declares war on North Korea you'll be saying "no blood for kimche" or some other BS slogan.

In short you're a loser miserable worthless scumbag. Bush doesn't give a flying fvvk what you or your lib cohorts think about him, so please keep up the slander. He's going to stay the course and do what is right no matter how much you leftists whine.

Re:It doesn't matter (2, Funny)

BrettJB (64947) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430625)

Now wait just a minute there! I'm darn well prepared to shed a little blood if it assures my access to quality kim chee at reasonable prices, and I don't think I'm alone in that sentiment!

Re:It doesn't matter (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430391)

We created Saddam, made him a credible threat, basically placed him in power... and more importantly he is within our reach. We can't mess with North Korea without the blessing of China.

Re:It doesn't matter (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430721)

I think the solution for this whole problem is to secretly send Condi Rice to China, and have her say "Ummm...well, don't tell the U.N. we said so, and especially don't tell South Korea, but we promise not to give a shit if you invade North Korea -- as long as you stop at the 38th parallel." I think China would be happy to have another province instead of an untrustworthy ally. And we know China has excellent control over their own nuclear arsenal, so the NK weapons would be in safe hands.

The only losers would be the psychopathic monsters at the top of the North Korean regime and whatever unfortunate troops they threw in front of the Chinese. South Korea would wail and gnash their teeth, but as long as China stopped at the DMZ no real harm would come to them. Everyone would win.

Re:It doesn't matter (1)

Flavio (12072) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430477)

I am remeinded if Bill Maher, Usually you have an administration that is corrupt or one that is inept. The Bush administration is both.

I used to make this division between corrupt and inept as well, until I realised that the best way to disguise corruption is to fake ineptitude. While people can be sued for corruption, it's much harder to sue for incompetence. So the thief keeps part of the money, does a shoddy job with the remainder and people think he's a bad administrator, but still honest.

That said, I'm not so quick to blame it on Bush. North Korea has been up to this kind of crap for much longer than his administration. And after watching this video [youtube.com] , I believe Bush has some serious health problems. Even if he was once in command, I don't think he is now.

Re:It doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430565)

***readjusts tin-foil hat***

..Which confirms my theory that Kim Jon Il is ACTUALLY a CIA puppet, used as a distraction and fear-mongering (damn mongorians.. he he) device at specific times.

Hell I, could make a nuke out of smoke detectors, duct tape, soap, sterno .... hey, hold on a second, theres a knock at the basement door....

#(*R$(*&#%RLOSTCARRIER..................

Re:It doesn't matter (1)

Tracy Reed (3563) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430725)


With all the information that is public, it *is* trivial to create a bomb.


This is gross abuse of the word "trivial".

hm, (2, Interesting)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430181)

I really wouldn't be amazed if it wasn't a nuke. They obviously want people to think they have nukes (whether they do or not) because otherwise they wouldn't have said they were going to do it and just passed it off as a light earthquake.

One can easily see from the increase in prestige and offers that Iran has been given for just saying that they want nuclear power that it gives your country an "edge"... I think it has backfired a bit - but we'll have to wait and see. Either way it's understandable why he would want to make it look like he has them. If Kim was thinking about the situation rationally then he would also know why China wouldn't want to put too many conditions on North Korea - which is to say that what China really fear is thousands of immigrants flooding in, after all, the nukes North Korea has will never rival China; and they can't even deliver the bombs anyway! (as far as I know they only have the ability to deliver something like that on a boat or train, really)

C'mon (4, Interesting)

blang (450736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430193)

How the hell would NK come up with some 500 fully loaded dump trucks worth of fertilizer, and dump it in a hole? It would be visible from the friggin moon.

Re:C'mon (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430279)

It doesn't need to be on the surface, and I don't think it's that hard. I'm sure a lot of underground mines have a lot more interior space than that.

Re:C'mon (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430561)

I don't know of many underground mines that come pre-equipped with a few thousand tons of explosive. Do you?

Re:C'mon (2, Interesting)

alienmole (15522) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430553)

Guess you won't be getting that analyst job at the CIA. It would be trivially easy to truck that fertilizer into a cave or mine somewhere, spread out over time, and detonate it when you're good and ready.

yes, it may or not be... (3, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430221)

..a real nuke, but the government right now REALLY doesn't want it to be a real nuke, because they would have to put up or shut up over their "no nukes for axis of e-vile" places. So who knows? They have been more or less threatening Iran now for a long time on the theory they are even developing one, and saying "dire consequences" and a lot of pre emptive strike speculation, etc. So, what can they do to N. Korea if they really had one? Invade, or a pre emptive strike? Ha! They are already on the serious manure list for most everything, what else practically can they do about it? What "sanctions" are even left of any importance that aren't already beng imposed?

OK, get back to the question. If a nuke was buried deep enough and the caverns sealed before the blast, with a very small nuke, would radiation escape to be detected? And wasn't there a lot of talk the other day that the seismograph guys were good enough to tell just from the signature?

Re:yes, it may or not be... (2, Insightful)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430307)

So, what can they do to N. Korea if they really had one? Invade, or a pre emptive strike? Ha! They are already on the serious manure list for most everything, what else practically can they do about it? What "sanctions" are even left of any importance that aren't already beng imposed?

I think that "total" economic sanctions would be effective. This means absolutely nothing in or out--no food, no medicine--nothing. Despite complete self-reliance being Dear Leader's wet dream, the NK regime would collapse. However, Russia and China would never go along with it; the westerners would be wracked with guilt about millions (more) NKans starving to death; and the NK generals might obliterate Seoul in the regime's death throes.

Re:yes, it may or not be... (2, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430433)

Blockades are an act of war. I mean, this is a regime that calls being served kimchee that's too warm an act of war, but this would really actually be one. You may as well just start knocking out the artillery with a surprise attack.

Re:yes, it may or not be... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430495)

And wasn't there a lot of talk the other day that the seismograph guys were good enough to tell just from the signature?

I think what was meant was that they can tell whether it was natural earthquake or an artificial explosion. My guess is that an earthquake is a drawn-out affair relative to an explosion, which would be closer to a single peak. I think the easier to build types of nuclear bombs are single-stage so you probably wouldn't get a major double spike that would make it known for certain that it was a nuke.

Chemical explosion, is my bet (5, Informative)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430223)

It's not so hard to pile up ten thousand tons of conventional explosive, and as discussed in the previous thread on the test itself there is some value in convincing your neighbors that you have nuclear weapons regardless of whether you actually have them.

The revised seismic figures were (if I recall right) something like 0.5 kT equivalent. The smallest easy-to-build bombs (those that have supercritical assemblies without hyper-compression of the metal) yield something like 10-30 kT, so this was either a fizzled nuke or a large pile of ANFO (or something like that).

In the last discussion I made a big deal about the Kamioka observatory and how they "should" have been able to see neutrinos from the blast -- but with an 0.5kT blast the number of neutrino interactions is only 1 or 2, so they can't be expected to distinguish a large chemical explosion from a very small fizzled nuclear explosion.

Re:Chemical explosion, is my bet (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430525)


t's not so hard to pile up ten thousand tons of conventional explosive, and as discussed in the previous thread on the test itself there is some value in convincing your neighbors that you have nuclear weapons regardless of whether you actually have them.

No it's not, but it's pretty hard to pile up ten thousand tons of conventional explosive in a remote area and not have anyone with a satellite see you do it.

Re:Chemical explosion, is my bet (1)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430583)

Due to the nature of nuclear reactions, I find it very implausible that it could have "fizzled." It's a damn chain reaction - set it and forget it, as the saying goes.

However, I think it's probably better to take the claim at face value than risk being wrong.

Re:Chemical explosion, is my bet (4, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430645)


I find it very implausible that it could have "fizzled." It's a damn chain reaction - set it and forget it, as the saying goes.

Then you need to learn a bit more about nuclear physics. Plutonium is a bit trickier to set off as a nuclear weapon do the fact that it can start a reaction before it's compressed down to the intended size. What happens is the chain reaction stops short of the intended yield because the ball of plutonium literally blows itself apart before you get enough generations of neutron reactions to yield enough energy.

A dud, if you ask me (2, Informative)

Ernesto Alvarez (750678) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430689)

I don't think it makes sense to drop 500 (or 1000) tons of explosives in a hole, blowing it up and pretending it to be a nuke. Such a small explosion would certainly give the idea of a fizzle, showing that NK does not have weapons yet (since the "prototype" failed). It would also show that a nuclear capability is imminent, so everyone interested would be acting to prevent that.

On the other hand, gun type bombs are not really tested that much. Little boy went straight to hiroshima without testing, because the scientists thought it would work (unlike fat-man, they did the trinity test for that).

Besides, North Korea was producing plutonium, that if I remember correctly, cannot be used in gun type bombs (it detonates too soon, blows apart and you get a dud).

I think they were testing their implosion bomb, and it fizzled. That does not mean they do not have a few gun types in a bunker somewhere.

Fall-out (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430231)

I remember Protect and Survive [youtube.com] , Duck and Cover etc etc... the diagrams taught me that the fall-out descends like rain, so how would they detect it overhead...

Re:Fall-out (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430421)

I don't remember exactly where I read it but there was an article about the hoax of nuclear winter and how it's physically impossible, in that article they mentioned that a nuclear blast kicks up quantities of all sorts of dust, the kind that falls back to the ground like rain in minutes, hours, days and even months later...they were obviously looking for very very fine radiactive dust which would remain airborn for quite a while while the larger fall-out did exactly what you said it would... And by the way, Duck and Cover isn't exactly the most, how shall we put it, scientificly accurate source, seeing as how it was made by a government which was heavily biased towards not freaking people out...

Re:Fall-out (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430623)

it was made by a government which was heavily biased towards not freaking people out...
Try the UK film I cited, with its eerie synth notes and plain animation it does its best to freak everyone out.

One possible theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430251)

Maybe they didn't want to use up their nuclear fuel in a real explosion, and just wanted to use a "pretend" bomb to achieve the same effect.

After all, it's not hard to make a "lttle boy" type of nuke. If they tried for a "fat man" then it quite possibly was a dud.

My money is on no nuke, just a lot of fertilizer to make some noise, which they did.

It still makes sense... (3, Informative)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430253)

You can seal the site before detonation. It's not that difficult. The US has done it hundreds of times during the cold war and just before.

Also, the estimates (which vary according to which country you ask) are less than 1 kt. As far as nukes go, that is very tiny. How much rad would you expect from this? How deep was the explosion? I know that they registered seismic activity, which was how they knew it happened. How accurate can one guage depth using seismographic equipment?

For some perspective, the US 1954 Castle Bravo test was 15 MEGA tons, and it was a mistake, they were only expecting like 1/3rd of that. The "ruskies" detonated 50 Mt, the largest ever, in 1961. There has been over 2,000 nuclear tests by the world nuke powers since they began, most of them from the US.

Re:It still makes sense... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430415)

If the intention was to prove their nuclear capability, why would they seal the explosion site so tightly as to remove all emanations?

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization dectection stations rely on trace amounts of certain isotopes of noble gas. Those are not easy to seal off, are very specific and a very small amount can still lead to a positive detection. Worked fine for the (real) tests conducted by India and Pakistan only a few years ago.

Re:It still makes sense... (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430453)

Not exactly correct to say that MOST were from the US. Approximately half of them were. That is not most.

US: 1,054
USSR: 715
France: 210
UK: 45
China:45
India: 5-6
Pakistan: 3-6
North Korea: 1 (maybe)
Isreal/South Africa: Possibly 1

Source: Wikipedia

here they are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430679)

gotta love google maps:

Here is the Nevada testing area: test sites [google.com]

Lots of big craters in the ground. Can anyone find the russian equivalent? Then we could just play count the crater. Which wouldn't of course count the pacific tests, but would be interesting. Really looks like someone went out of their way to make the test sites visable from space.

Re:It still makes sense... (1)

Shadowruni (929010) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430505)

Something even more sobering on this is that the Russian bomb was actually toned down. (It was a dial-a-yield multi-stage device) It was originally going to be 69 MT IIRC but some saner heads reminded them that a yield of that magnitude would make 1000's or square miles poisonous for decades if not centuries. My bet is on a fatman type bomb that fizzled due to bad detenators/wiring as that's the hardest part to get right in a single stage weapon. If they were crazy enough to try a multistage weapon I'd say contamination somehow in the 2nd stage or bad lenses (but they're not too hard to make so who knows). I don't believe it's conventional explosives though. It's really REALLY hard to detenate them with anything approaching enough precision to simulate a nuclear event and if you could do it why not just use a real nuke as they already had the material. You'll notice that historically with the exception of the MOAB it's always an accident that produces these kinds of explosions.

So my vote is a fizzle on a fatman type bomb. But IANANP... so YMMV.

maybe it was a neutron bomb? (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430299)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neutron_bomb [wikipedia.org]

A neutron bomb is a type of tactical nuclear weapon developed specifically to release a relatively large portion of its energy as energetic neutron radiation to harm biological tissues and electronic devices that are otherwise relatively protected from the heat blast without causing nuclear fallout.

The 'people' who know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430313)

Are the ones with the birds in space with the neutron detectors. Birds like Vela 6911.

Does anyone reading this think they will get a straight answer from the satallite running folkes?

Team America (3, Funny)

WilyCoder (736280) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430337)

In between bouts of decrying "Sooo Wone-wy", Kim was quoted as saying that news of the faked nuke test was "Inebbidable!"

North Korea proves they still arn't "big time". (2, Insightful)

kinglink (195330) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430351)

North Korea seems to have failed at the very essence of the Nuclear test. The idea isn't to test if your nuclear bomb work, you better fucking know your technology is ready before you even hint you have the bomb. The idea of a nuclear test is to PROVE you have the bomb, and to prove it works, and to show everyone you got big balls. They have not done this, and this further proves it. They might have one, but you don't brag about an underground nuclear test unless you have something to prove and North Korea definatly has that.

Personally I think it proves they DONT have a bomb.... yet. And more likely their real first test will be over Japan/Israel/South Korea/ whereever else, and their second will be during the all out nuclear bombardment where all the countries give them all the nuclear power they need, though they'll have to figure out how to contain it.

North Korea and Iran are both playing dangerous games. They are acting like children at the grown ups tables. Let's hope they mature or get slapped before they become teenagers who get into a massive car accident and "kill" one or more of the adults

Re:North Korea proves they still arn't "big time". (1)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430653)

To be honest, I do beleave they do have a nuke, as in all honesty a nuke is first year stough in university. ITs relay not that complicated, once you ahve the raw material (plutonium), then all you nead is a explosion pushing on the mass of material from all sides at once with enough pressure to start a reaction. I know, basic explination and timing on the explosion around the material is very impotant but still not that hard for todays tech. He has tech, so I am betting he has nukes. I am more interested in how usable the nukes he has are. As the news here pointed out, it was not a big one and most likealy very custom built, and most importantaly VERY BIG, say the size of a car. The hard part is pack a nuke into a missle and have the nuke be able to survive the trip in the missle. So I beleave they have a nuke, but not one thats very usable or deliverable yet. That means we still have time (years even) before he has somthing he can easealy deliver to a target. So if the world well get off its but and deal with the issue then maybe we well not see a nuck attack in the rest of many of our life times.

Re:North Korea proves they still arn't "big time". (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430659)

I don't pretend to understand the prevailing winds of the region or how radiation tends to fall out.

Not to worry, this makes me eminently qualified to comment on slashdot.

To me it looks extremely dangerous for North Korea to drop a nuclear bomb on its closest neighbours. There's a real risk that a significant amount of fallout could wind up back over North Korea.

size doesn't matter (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430665)

North Korea seems to have failed at the very essence of the Nuclear test.

And you've failed at the very essence of the Nuclear Threat. It doesn't matter how big the boom is- what matters is that you can make the boom land anywhere. A half to one kiloton explosion in almost any Japanese or South Korean city would kill/injure thousands.

Take him at his word (2, Insightful)

throx (42621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430363)

If we run around telling him he didn't really explode a nuke then it's only incentive for him to try again. Far better to pat him on the head and pretend it was the world's most wildly successful nuke test and get down to the business of what to do about it.

Another Possibility... (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430375)

is that it was an attempt made with non-weapons-grade plutonium. Yes, you get plutonium if you irradiate U-238 in a reactor, but you have to change the U-238 slugs every few days, or it gets over-irradiated. What you get is contaminated by a bunch of other Pu isotopes which fission much more easily than the Pu239. If you use those isotopes in a bomb, because of the "easy fission" of the contaminating isotopes, the critical mass blows itself apart inefficiently, resulting in a "fizzle."

Granted, 500 tons is one HELL of a fizzle.

Re:Another Possibility... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430573)

you have to change the U-238 slugs every few days, or it gets over-irradiated.

Makes me wonder how many corners they cut to get this thing to work. I feel sorry for the people directly involved, even though they are probably better off than the normal N Korean man in the street.

I hope nobody had to go down the hole to play the Major TJ Kong role and (so to speak) ride it in.

Failed Nuke? (1)

TheDawgLives (546565) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430475)

IANANP:
But, from what I heard, it very well could have been a nuke that just wasn't put together properly. When trying to create the atomic reaction, they use conventional explosives to compress the radioactive material. If their calculations were the slightest bit off, then the conventional explosives would have gone off but not created an atomic reaction.
In that case, there will be more tests as soon as the previous engineer is executed.

A large deliberate chemical explosion (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430507)

http://www.vancouverislandabound.com/tamingof.htm [vancouveri...abound.com]
A dangerous undersea mountain top called Ripple Rock was blown up by the Canadians in 1958. I always thought it was the world's largest deliberate chemical explosion. Anyway, some people think the Korean explosion was only 500 kilotons. So, a large chemical explosion has been done before and it could have been done again.

Given that the North Korean dictator is addicted to western movies, maybe he's taken his lead from a Peter Sellers movie, The Mouse that Roared. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053084/ [imdb.com]

WSJ article is crap. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430509)

FTFA in question:

Sometimes, they took only one--the night watchman of the fertilizer plant in Toulouse that disappeared from the face of the Earth in 2001.

Uh, what?

The disaster caused 29 deaths (28 from the factory, one lycéen -- secondary school/high school pupil -- from a neighbouring school), 2,500 seriously wounded and 8,000 light casualties. Two thirds of the city's windows were shattered, causing 70 eye wounds and several thousand wounds had to be sutured. The full environmental consequences of the catastrophe are not yet completely known.

(From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AZF [wikipedia.org]

If they can't get a trivial anecdote right (trivial in terms of the story, not in terms of people dying) then why would I believe that the rest of the article is worth reading?

Guess they don't have editors over at the WSJ these days.

It wasn't a nuke (1)

GnarlyNome (660878) | more than 7 years ago | (#16430515)

The Guardian (UK) was archiving their anti american articles there and they came in contact with some bad kimchee

F@^t in the wind (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16430581)

Reminds me of the line from "Shawshank Redemption" where the wardon is commenting about the prisoner's escape and says, "So, he up and vanished like a fart in the wind." :-)
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