Since this is a subject of interest to many blog visitors, it seems worth creating it’s own post.
As all readers probably know, North Korea conducted a nuclear test, the third one in recent history.
In 2006, a nuclear test was conducted which yielded less than one kiloton and was almost certainly a fizzle, a major failure of the design.
In 2009, a second test was conducted. This test seems to have had a yield in the range of four to five kilotons. Although this represents a high enough yield to be a semi-viable weapon, it may well have been a partial fizzle, in which the weapon failed to detonate properly and efficiently. However, it is difficult to know this for sure, and it could have been a scaled down test.
The more recent test has been estimated to have had a yield of more than seven kilotons and as much as ten kilotons. This appears to be a weapon that is functioning more properly and is thus a viable nuclear explosive. However, by modern standards, it remains a relatively small nuclear explosive. The US inventory includes weapons of more than a megaton and only the smallest tactical nuclear weapons would be of a yield of ten kilotons or less.
North Korea has stated that the device was designed to be miniaturized in order to make it a more viable weapon for delivery by missile. This cannot be verified.
Up until now, it has been presumed that the sophistication of North Korean nuclear weapons was probably comparable to the earliest US and Soviet Nuclear weapons, such as the Mark-3 Fat Man and the Soviet RDS-1 device.
The actual design and construction of the device is unknown. Previous tests almost certainly used only plutonium, but North Korea has recently been developing the capability to enrich uranium. It is not known if this was a uranium or plutonium bomb. A uranium bomb can be constructed with much lower tolerances and will still function reliably.
All verifiable information comes from seismic data. The tests were conducted underground and at a depth sufficient to prevent any discharge of fallout that could be subject to radiochemical analysis.
Currently it is unknown whether North Korea has any standing arsenal of nuclear devices or to what extent those devices may be suitable for use as a weapon. However, if they do have any, it is certain that their inventory is quite small.
This entry was posted on Thursday, February 14th, 2013 at 11:52 pm and is filed under Enviornment, Misc. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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