Friday, July 24, 2009

New Noodling on Nork Nukes

Geoffrey Forden is no longer convinced that North Korea a href=""detonated a/a nuclear device:br /blockquoteLet us suppose, for the moment, that the DPRK actually did explode 2,500 tons of TNT instead of a nuclear device. How could they load a tunnel with so much conventional explosive and not be detected by the West’s satellites? This was the real reason I was so sure it had been a nuclear explosion. I was convinced, unfortunately before doing a very simple calculation, that the trucks filled with high explosive (HE) would be /br /However, it is not all that much HE. If TNT was used, as opposed to a higher density explosive like RDX, North Korea would only have to excavate a cavity 12 meters on a side and fill it with high /br /If four 10-ton trucks delivered their load each night (with a fifth truck coming every 10th day) they could drop off all the HE within two months. Using RDX, or some other higher density explosive, could significantly decrease this time. That seems quite doable and to be potentially undetectable by the West./blockquotebr /I discussed some potential strategic rationales for faking a nuclear test a href=""here./a Shortly after the "test," I had a long and somewhat angry dispute with a conservative friend about a href=""this/a Mark Steyn article. In it, Steyn quotes an unnamed friend to the point that the Obama administration had failed to react to "an underground atomic device many times more powerful than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki." I pointed out that the sentence has rather a different impact when it reads "an underground atomic device that is less than a quarter as powerful as the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki," and suggested that the fact-checking machine at National Review appeared to be on the fritz. My friend was not amused, arguing that the general nuclear capability mattered much more than the specifics. I thought then that this was a reasonable point (although it hardly justifies Steyn's sloppiness), but I now think it's fair to say that North Korean capabilities are in serious question.div class="blogger-post-footer"img width='1' height='1' src=''//div

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