Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Was The Nuke Test A Dud? The Bloggers Sound Off...

Saving Face - Appears Courtesy of Cox & Forkum

Was the North Korean nuclear test a dud? A scam? Did they actually conduct an earlier Six Kiloton test on September 9 which many seem to have missed? And what are Kim Jong II's motivations for striving boldly against World opinion and isolating North Korea further from the mainstream of civilization? The Bloggers, an opinionated bunch as usual, sound off...

Spook 86, a former member of the US Intelligence Community says, Kim Jong-il Lays Another Egg - There is growing speculation that North Korea's "nuclear test" was, in fact, a failure. Bill Gertz of the Washington Times is quoting intelligence officials who say the evidence--so far--seems consistent with a failed test; some analysts believe the detected underground explosion may have been associated with the trigger of a nuclear device, but the actual bomb (if there was one) failed to explode.

That is the good news. The bad news. NK may have tested an earlier nuke on October 9: On the other hand, some experts believe there was an actual nuclear explosion in North Korea on 9 October. Russian analysts estimated the size of the blast at roughly equivalent to 6,000 tons of TNT, the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. If that assessment is accurate, it would make the North Korean weapon slightly smaller than the Indian and Pakistani devices that were tested in the late 1990s. The Indian bomb reportedly had a yield of 10-15 kilotons, and the Pakistani device was a bit smaller. Pyongyang reportedly received nuclear assistance from Pakistan's A.Q. Kahn nuclear proliferation network, in exchange for North Korean ballistic missile technology. Given the "success" of Pakistani tests, the North Korean "failure" is a bit surprising, and suggests that Kim Jong-il's nuclear scientists--like his missile engineers--need to go back to the drawing board.

Safeblad in Jeju, a British expatriate living in South Korea gives us his feelings on this possible dud of a test: Though the bomb did prompt me to register with the British Embassy, im not that concerned either. The bomb they tested was either a dud or was not even a nuke, the size explosion that has been quoted is far too low. It could even have been the result of all the fertilizer etc that the South Koreans have sent the north in their infinite kindness. I don't believe in the Norths ability to do anything of an offensive nature successfully, even if they did they would be wiped off the map long before long before they reached Jeju, though it is highly likely they would be annihilated at the DMZ, million man army or not.

Sonia Belle comments: It looks like the North Korean nuclear test was a dud, just like the earlier failed missile test. According to this article, no one has ever dudded their first test of a simple fission device. North Korean nuclear scientists are now officially the worst ever (...) First the missile, then the bomb. Got anything else you wanna try out there, chief? But whether a dud or not, it is still a huge failure of Bush's North Korean policy. How can a guy who was so decisive with Saddam be such a push-over with Kim ?

That is a good question Sonia, perhaps because: 1) NK is a client state of China. 2) Bush has been preoccupied with the War Against Isamofascists. 3) NK is a much more difficult military target to take on than Iraq. 4) South Korea would be directly affected by any attack against the North and has been in favor of reapproachment, not military action.

The Foreign Policy blog speculates on the possibility and the aftermath: Speculation is growing in some quarters that North Korea's big bang wasn't nuclear after all. If that view gets further support from experts, we may start to hear arguments that a strategic window of opportunity has opened. North Korea, the reasoning might go, has simultaneously demonstrated dangerous political recklessness and military incompetence. In effect, they've called their own nuclear bluff. Some reputable folks were advocating military strikes well before the test, and they may seize on the latest developments to reissue the call. We should be wary. The fundamental strategic and moral problem with military action against North Korea is not their nuclear arsenal—it's their ability to wreak havoc on the south through conventional weapons.

The Booman Tribune is spinning it, the lefty way: There has, and undoubtedly will be a number of diaries, as well as "news" stories (and I will use the term "news" lightly here) about North Korea's recent nuclear test. Sadly, the focus will probably be on (1) the fact that this may have been a "dud" of a test (as opposed to the fact that it was still a test), (2) what the US and the UN can and will do, (3) how this was somehow Clinton's fault (don't think this won't be trotted out), and (4) what this means politically for Bush, the democrats and the republicans.

Decision 08 has good coverage and tends to doubt the "bomb was a dud" meme: To me, it's pretty persuasive that the North Koreans told the Chinese it would be 4 kilotons; it's hard to imagine a scenario where that would take place other than taking it at face value. And wants action taken against both NK and Iran: I've been a vocal critic of the willingness of the U.S. and the international community to essentially let Iran and North Korea move forward with no obstacles. It's not too late to change course, particularly on Iran. I'll say it again: if the UN won't take action, we need to find or initiate a multilateral organization that will…

Pesky' Apostrophe
on the Left, thinks it's the Bush administration that's trying dud the NK test: So...this nuclear test in North Korea. I'm really trying not to think about it. I the Bush administration is trying to downplay the test by saying it was a dud, that it wasn't really very strong, whatever. It created a 4+ reading on the Richter scale, which leads me to believe that it worked. Strong or not, it was a nuclear weapon.

Marc Parent has the CNN story, where a Noth Korean official is quoted: South Korea's Yonhap news agency, in a dispatch carried by The Associated Press, quoted an unidentified North Korean official as saying, "We hope the situation will be resolved before an unfortunate incident of us firing a nuclear missile comes." The Norks, they never give up threatening do they?

Blood and Treasure is pondering why North Korea didn't get it right: So why didn't they get it right? After all, there's a large, tried and tested body of knowledge about how to build and explode nuclear devices, to the extent that you should know you've got a working bomb on your hands before you explode it. It's pretty obvious why the North wants nukes. Kim Jong-il wants to preserve the Kim family dynasty in power. And though he's generally thought of as the younger Kim, he's still 64 years old and not exactly in good shape. So maybe the North Koreans went with what they had because Kim is an old man in a hurry.

Cake or Death says, even if it's a failed test there are big problems ahead: What is an obvious conclusion is that NoKo's scientists can still learn from a failed test, perhaps more than they would from a successful one. But the silver lining there could be that along with the failed missile launch back in July, NoKo could still be a ways away from having a nuclear warhead and the means to deliver it via ICBM.

Bryan at Hot Air thinks the test may be a dud, but that doesn't mean NK wont eventually get its act together and mount some type of device on an ICBM: The window in which we can deal with a non-nuclear, non-ICBM North Korea is probably very short, probably less than a year and no more than 18 months. The US has cards to play, including the Japan card, now the South Korea card and even the Taiwan card in convincing China that it is in its interests to deal with Kim Jong-Il. Since North Korea has shown its hand and how it intends to behave, the US is in a stronger position now than it was in yesterday to get serious international action mustered against Pyongyang. And it may be true now that China may finally see Kim for what he is, which is an uncontrollable menace that sits right on China's border. With the Chinese ambition to be seen as a real world leader, and with the Olympics coming to Beijing in 2008 and with Taiwan possibly slipping away for good if North Korea isn't dealt with, China may finally be ready to work its hand. We'll find out shortly.

Defense Tech weighs in with studious material from several Web sources.

Murdoc Online has some interesting speculation in an easy to read format.

Ecletics Anonymous asks: Why? And Why Didn't It Work? , and quotes Jeffrey Lewis, The Arms Control Wonk: There may be a parable here about authoritarian societies and proliferation. Kim Jong Il probably believed the weapon would work because, as a colleague suggested, "doubts about a system don't always go up easily in the command chain" of such countries. Indeed, what David Kay called a "vortex of corruption" was a persistent drag on Iraqi WMD programs, particularly before 1991. The Iraq Survey Group suggested that Iraqi WMD efforts were "largely subsumed into corrupt money-raising schemes by scientists skilled in the arts of lying and surviving in a fevered police state." That would rather economically explain the both the Taepodong's dismal record, as well as the nuclear dud.

Aldaynet says the world is laughing at "Lil Kim" for his failure.

My Pet Jawa gives his thoughts.

The Dread Pundit says a failed test will make Kim Jong even more dangerous: This would be a humiliating culmination for Kim Jong-il, which would make him even more intransigent and dangerous.

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