DPRK set us up the bomb

It’s been more than 48 hours since North Korea detonated what it claimed was a nuclear weapon, but so far there’s been no verification that it was, indeed, an atomic weapon. Even if it was, it appears to have been either a very small one or a “dud”. (Just recall that this “dud” would still be enough to ruin your whole day…)

It’s entirely possible that this was an intentionally-small device, perhaps to demonstrate a suitcase nuke capability, though I find this a bit difficult to believe. As a first attempt at a Bomb with a capital ‘B’, a small, tightly-controlled unit doesn’t seem terribly likely. If a sub-kiloton test was indeed the goal, I’d suggest that it maybe had to do more with limited fissile material than with James Bond gadgets.

Speaking of material, maybe they bought some low-grade stuff or processed it poorly, resulting in a greatly-lessened output.

In any event, while it’s fine to poke fun at the lunatics for their apparent ineptitude, don’t lose sight of the fact that even inept madmen with minor nuclear weapons are, to say the least, very troubling.

Here are some more Nork NanoNuke goodies:

  • U.S. ‘Dragnet’ Hunts for Nuke Clues at Defense Tech
  • Why North Korea is the Wrong Focus by Joe Katzman at Winds of Change
  • Bill Gertz Reports U.S Intelligence Agencies Don’t Believe Korean Blast Was Nuclear
  • Newsweek blames America for North Korea’s nukes, but it omits what happened Sept. 20, 2005 at Frank Warner
  • North Korea Tests Nuclear Weapon by Bill Roggio
  • Stratfor: No “Satisfactory Military Solution” to North Korean Test at CounterTerrorism


  1. Your thoughts on it being a dud are probably very accurate. I also can’t see them jumping several generations of developement to produce a compact tactical warhead. If the assumptions that it’s a plutonium based weapon are correct (if there even was an actual weapon and not some elaborate spoof) improper pit material would cause an improper initiation. Reactors designed to produce weapons grade plutonium (very specialised) require critical timing and monitoring. If it’s not done properly you get to high a percentage of unwanted plutonium isotopes. A good example is PU240 which spontaneously fissions. Having a few percentage points to much PU240 would produce a very, very unreliable weapon that might detonate properly, might give almost no detonation or even just sit there and slag itself into a molten puddle.

  2. Clearly the failure of the Republican congress to hold those incompetant national security ignoring clowns that are the Bush administration acountable for ignoring all the many pre-9/11 warnings is a major problem. Clearly, if you leave people running national security who are incompetant at best, and criminally negligent at worst means you are just going to have disaster after disaster. 9/11 Iraq invasion Katrina now this. But hey, give them some time, and Iran can go nuclear also.

  3. Zapper: Please list five actionable ‘pre-9/11 warnings’ that were ignored and what the proper course of action would have been. There were ‘many’, of course, but just list the five most glaring oversights. Thanks.