Tuesday, October 10, 2006

North Korea may be playing a different game than we think.

By now, everyone has read the reports that the North Korean nuclear test was a dud. I have however read a report that makes me think there might be something else going on, one that strikes me as very disturbing.

When people think of Nuclear Weapons they think big, like the Soviet Tsar Bomba, but there is a class of nuclear weapons that are known as low-yeild or variable-yeild weapons. They are a bit more difficult to make and maintain and require technologies that are not quite as easy to obtain from the open liturature. They usually require the use of different tamper elements or the use of tritium injection. Tritium injection can be problematic because tritium decays into He3 which can poison the reaction and tritium has a half-life of a little over 12 years. So maintaining such a device in a usable state requires constant work.

The Davy Crockett is one such device that had a variable yeild from 10-20 tons. This warhead was the lightest ever built and weighed only 51 lbs. This extremely low yeild is very close to the theoretical minimum for a fission device but is HUGE compared to it's size and weight.

I have read a report of someone who has seen video of the test, although I have been unable to find the video myself. This person describes the instrumentation trailers being so close to the collapse cone of the test well that had the bomb been any larger, the instrumentation trailers would have fallen into the cone. This gives strong evidence that the North Koreans knew exactly what they were doing and what the design yeild was. Everyone seems to think that they would be building a Nagasaki/Trinity type device. But such a device weighs far too much to mount on their Taepo-dong 2 missiles which, as ICBMs go, are exceedingly small. Therefore they have a strong incentive to be looking at variable and low yeild devices.

Lightweight low-yeild weapons also are ideal as terror weapons so NK would have a secondary market for them. And NK has never developed a weapons system that they have not sold on the open market. Just because our first Plutonium Nuke was a Trinity type implosion device does not mean that it follows that NK would follow our design steps. they have the benefit of knowing where we have been and what technologies we and the Soviets and the Chinese have brought to bear. They may very well leap-frog us. We have not developed a new nuke design in decades due to a lack of political will. They would appear to have no such compunction.


Anonymous ttyler5 said...

That's what they are doing, Rorschach!

Iran has probably already ordered the missiles.

October 11, 2006 3:26 AM  

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