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October 09, 2006

Dud? Or Simply Small "Demonstrator" Nuke?

Conflicting opinions at Instapundit.

Here's what little I know about nukes. Even in an advanced nuke, very little fissionable material actually gets fissioned. The rest would get fissioned, except for the fact that the nuclear detonation blows out the rest of it too quickly to any longer be within a half mile of the detonating core.

So the trick is to build a bomb with such precise (to the billionth of a second) detonators that as much of the fissionable core as possible fissions simultaneously, before it's all blown away. Again, even in advanced US nukes, this is not a large fraction of everything that could be fissioned.

If the Nork bomb was a dud, it's because they engineered it poorly and primatively and could only manage a very small amount of actual fissioning. Mistiming might have caused just one side of the bomb to explode or something like that.

But even if it is a dud, it's not terribly reassuring. They can always improve. And they have 60 years of scientific papers on atomic bombs to help guide them.

On a more hopeful note, an atomic device is not the same thing as an atomic bomb. The Trinity nuke was a "device" rather than a bomb; a bomb implies you can easily transport it to a target, by a plane, say. The Trinity device was too large and cumbersome for that.

Again, though: this is 60 year old technology we're talking about. It's easy to simply follow in the footsteps of those who have managed it successfully, like, say, A. Q. Khan.

Hoax? Instapundit also links this interesting piece speculating the blast was just a hoax-- a purely conventional explosion (but a big one) designed to seem, seismically, like a nuke.

They've done it before, he notes.

Seems there are two ways to create a .5 kiloton blast (where a kiloton equals the explosive force of 1000 pounds of TNT):

1) Set off a very, very small, or dud, nuke that equals the power of 500 tons of TNT; or

2) fill a cavern with 500 tons of TNT and set that off.

We know that Kim Il-Jong is a movie fan-- and that's exactly what Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) did in A View To A Kill.

Compare:

AVTAKMaxZorin.jpg Kim_Il_Jong_sm.jpg

Bonus! Kim Il-Jong wants congratulations.

Let's fix the Sixth Fleet up with ribbons and balloons and give him all the congratulations he can take.



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posted by Ace at 06:38 PM

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