09 October 2006

Nuclear North Korea

Well, it appears that North Korea has entered the nuclear arena. This is not a good thing.

Worst case, according to our resident nonproliferation expert professor, is NK weapons increase --> Japan weapons increase --> Russia weapons increase --> US weapons increase and we have another cold war on our hands.

According to the USGS, the nuke-induced quake registered about 4.2 on the Richter scale. I actually get to use something I learned in my 1-hour survey course about nonproliferation: a formula that converts earthquake magnitude to nuclear device power in kT. Assuming it's "well-coupled" (they're not using a large cavern or anything to mask its magnitude, which would be silly at this point in their program), mag = 4.01 + 0.79*log(yield). This gives a yield of about 1.7 kilotons.

The first U.S. nuclear test, the plutonium-based implosion device Trinity, measured about 20 kT. Maybe North Korea's first test was a fizzle? It might also just be a small test.

Regardless, the world is notably less stable today than it was before the weekend.


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