Or has he?
It seems to depend on who you believe.
And it depends on what "yield" they believe the bomb produced.
The ice is getting a little thin here, and Gawd Forbid I would venture an Opinion. I don't really KNOW anything, and I seem to be in good company.
The Russians are convinced that it was, indeed, Nuclear. They rate it at "5,000 tons to 15,000 tons of TNT", which (if I understand this) is 5 - 15 kilotons. They are really really ("rilly") sure ("shurrrrr").
Why would our good friends, the Russians, lie to us?
But compare that yield to the atomic (uranium based) bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima, producing 12.5 kilotons of blast. It seems respectable.
I wonder how they rate the yield? Somebody ought to google this, then we'll all know.
The Australians ("Seismology Research Centre") rated the blast at 1,000 tons of TNT, or 1 kiloton.
Driving home from work tonite, I heard part of an interview on the Jim Bohanan radio talk show where the interviewee (sorry, I didn't catch the name) declared that the yield from the NK Nuclear Detonation Event was in the range of 200 tons, or 0.2 kilotons.
People are mad as heck about this. After all, we asked them nicely: "Please, oh please, don't detonate a nuclear device". But they went ahead and did it anyway. What ingrates. After all the work that Jimmy Carter, Madelaine Albright and Bill Clinton ("I tried, I really really tried as hard as I could, I tried harder than anybody ...") did to appease Lil' Kim, that rascal went ahead and built an atomic bomb anyway.
There are questions about whether the bomb was Uranium Based or Plutonium Based. Apparently, Plutonium Based is ... trickier. For example, the U.S. used an Uranium Based bomb in Hiroshima, without testing it first. They were confident it would work. But the Nagasaki bomb was Plutonium Based, and they conducted a test of the Plutonium Based bomb at Alamagordo before they built the bomb they used on Japan.
Uranium or Plutonium?
Paper or Plastic?
Some people think that the North Koreans jumped to the Plutonium Based design, and it fizzled.
That's not entirely surprising, since the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists thought they (NK) had at least one, perhaps two nuclear devices as early as 2003.
The "Newspaper of Record" suggests that it was a Plutonium-based device, and either the material used was "too old" or it was inexpertly assembled. But they're pretty shurrrrrr that it was at least an attempt to detonate a nuclear device:
The officials said that their current assessment was that North Korea had in fact detonated a nuclear device, and that they were discounting some reports that North Korea had staged a hoax, trying to disguise a large conventional explosion as a nuclear blast.
“The working assumption is that this was a nuclear explosion of some kind,” one intelligence official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The conventional explosion theory doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense, even for the North Koreans.”
But that left the mystery of why the explosion appeared to be so small, less than a kiloton, or a fraction of the explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Theories ranged from the possibility that North Korea had used old, polluted plutonium to the possibility that it had manufactured imprecise nuclear triggers. But at this point, intelligence officials said, they were just taking educated guesses, and would need hard evidence, or the testimony of spies or defectors, to figure out exactly what happened. The officials agreed to speak about the classified intelligence assessments only on condition of anonymity.
There have even been some suggestions that the device in question was a "suitcase bomb", and the yield indicates a perfect test. Others say that the first bombs developed were HUGE and it requires a lot of testing and technical expertise (and experience) to create a deliverable with a small yield and physical size.
Wretchard, at The Belmont Club, explores the possiblity that the detonation was actually a "suitcase bomb" purchased from some outpost of the now-defunct Soviet Union (remember our old friends who couldn't possibly be lying to us?) He refers to Chester, whose comments I had read earlier, and decides that ... he couldn't really decide. Maybe it's possible, maybe the Russian Suitcase Nuke (if in fact that's what Lil' Kim tested) was small and relatively sophisticated, but old and relatively impotent ... old guys can relate to this ... and the recorded yield would support this theory.
All of this serves only to demonstrate that, at this time, only two things are certain:
(1) North Korea blew up something equivalent to at least 200 tons of TNT in a mining tunnel
(2) After 48 hours, with spy-planes zooming back and forth over North Korea, nobody has picked up atmospheric debris which would definately indicate the a nuclear device has been detonated.
By the time you read this, you may have been told that it definitively was, or was not, a nuclear detonation. I doubt it, but it could happen.
Here are the possibilities as I see them:
- It was a nuclear detonation, and it went just as planned.
- It was a nuclear detonation, and it fizzled.
- It was an attempt to simulate a nuclear detonation, and Lil' Kim is laughing his ass off at our confusion and consternation.
If it was (2), then Kim is trying really hard to build an atomic bomb (probably Uranium-based, but perhaps not), and mucked it up. Doesn't matter, he managed to piss off a lot of people and he'll milk it as long as he thinks he can get away with it.
If it was (3), then Kim blew up 200+ tons of conventional explosives in a mine shaft just to piss us off and make some political hay. This is supported by his subsequent aggressive statements, designed to force the United States into a one-on-one talks without the "global 6" participation which would put us back to where Clinton was in the '90s ... trying to talk Kim out of what he had already decided to do, and paying him deceiving us.
What do I think it was?
I think it was (2), and eventually we'll find some radioactive particulate matter in the atmosphere above North Korea, and get scared, and deal with him as a Nuclear Power.
But it really doesn't matter. He could have blown up a whole bunch of Industrial Dynamite along with some medical nuclear waste to contaminate the atmosphere, and even though it would be a fraud ... the rest of the world can't afford to doubt his power.
Sometime, somewhere, some National Power (probably us) will blink, and he'll get whatever he wants.
Eventually it will all come out, and we'll know the real story. At that time, the National Leader who bought into this charade will be revealed for a gullible idiot.
In the words of Mr. T ... "I Pity The Fool".