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Did North Korea Conduct Secret Nuclear Tests? 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the poking-around-inside-atoms dept.
gbrumfiel writes "In May of 2010, North Korea made the bizarre claim that it had achieved nuclear fusion. Many, many commentators (including faithful Slashdot readers) mocked the dear leader for his outlandish boast, but could there have been a kernel of truth in the claim? Apparently some odd radioactivity was spotted by detectors surrounding the North just days after the announcement. Now, a new analysis by a Swedish scientist suggests that the radiation may have leaked from covert experiments into boosting fission warheads. The evidence is tentative at best, and many are skeptical, but it does seem that something odd was up on the Korean peninsula that spring."
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Did North Korea Conduct Secret Nuclear Tests?

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  • Not only... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Oswald McWeany (2428506) on Friday February 03, 2012 @03:32PM (#38919329)

    Not only did North Korea manage to produce a Nuclear Warhead- but the late Kim Jong himself put it together using only a paper clip, a mashed potato and a bucket of play-doh.

    What it takes the West billions of $ and many top scientists, North Korea can accomplish with just a Kim and a few house-hold supplies. Incidentally, Kim Jong Il, invented the mashed potato. Just a little known factoid.

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday February 03, 2012 @03:49PM (#38919567)

      Every character ever played by Richard Dean Anderson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone or Chuck Norris was actually based on Jim Kong Il. There was one time his paper clip snapped in fear while building a nuclear warhead, so Kim Jong Il roundhouse-kicked it. This caused the warhead to go off. Fortunately for us, he was able to subdue the nuclear explosion and stuff it back into the warhead. This is where refurbished nukes comes from.

      • Every character ever played by Richard Dean Anderson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone or Chuck Norris was actually based on Jim Kong Il.

        Yes, quite a media-friendly family. One of his brothers had a movie franchise, and another got a real sweetheart deal with Nintendo. Ever since he married that Korean woman, though, he's been keeping a low profile.

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        Chuck Norris was unable to comment, but his media representative assures us he has no twin Korean brother, but he's comfortable enough being awesome to allow them to borrow his for a while for the purposes of world peace and/or annihilation. Just as long as it's awesome.

    • by wiredog (43288)

      So he's MacGyver?

    • by slashmojo (818930)

      I always wondered where Macgyver ended up..

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Not only did North Korea manage to produce a Nuclear Warhead- but the late Kim Jong himself put it together using only a paper clip, a mashed potato and a bucket of play-doh.

      What it takes the West billions of $ and many top scientists, North Korea can accomplish with just a Kim and a few house-hold supplies. Incidentally, Kim Jong Il, invented the mashed potato. Just a little known factoid.

      Sorry, but you're mixing him up with Valdimir "I'm a Rocketman" Putin, who did this on his break between test driving a new F1 car from Lada and climbing K2.

      Kim Jong-Il would have willed it into being, because he's a god.

    • by forkfail (228161) on Friday February 03, 2012 @04:13PM (#38919895)

      Kim Jong Il looking at it [tumblr.com] or it didn't happen.

    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      Everyone knows it was created in Aperature Labs created them. http://technabob.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/plush_glados_potato.jpg [technabob.com]
    • the late Kim Jong himself put it together using only a paper clip, a mashed potato and a bucket of play-doh

      That's misleading. The play-doh was just because he got bored while making the bomb.

      • by dudpixel (1429789)

        the late Kim Jong himself put it together using only a paper clip, a mashed potato and a bucket of play-doh

        That's misleading. The play-doh was just because he got bored while making the bomb.

        I heard it was the other way round...

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      He also took that nuke and dunked it in a full court jump. Before scoring a 54 under par on Augusta.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday February 03, 2012 @03:35PM (#38919367)

    Given they already have a covert nuclear programme doing covert experiments isn't that much of a shock. But really, everything these guys do is odd to some degree, I mean, they have a leader who was born in any of 1982, 83 or 84 and no one seems quite clear as to which. Or why they would lie about it.

    It's not even clear who these outlandish lies are for, which is what makes the whole thing odd. Even if it's just misdirection to confuse anyone trying to find out the truth that doesn't make it any less odd.

  • Seismic evidence? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bradmont (513167) on Friday February 03, 2012 @03:36PM (#38919371)
    Nuclear detonations create telltale signatures on seismometers, which makes it pretty much impossible to perform nuclear tests without being noticed by the international community. The article even admits this:

    Others remain deeply sceptical that the tests took place at all. Most troubling is the lack of any seismic vibrations to support the radioisotope data, according to Ola Dahlman, a retired geophysicist who spent years working with the test-ban group's detection network. The Korean peninsula is wired to spot the tiniest shake from a nuclear explosion, Dahlman says. "It should have been able to see something."

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Nuclear detonations create telltale signatures on seismometers, which makes it pretty much impossible to perform nuclear tests without being noticed by the international community. The article even admits this:

      Others remain deeply sceptical that the tests took place at all. Most troubling is the lack of any seismic vibrations to support the radioisotope data, according to Ola Dahlman, a retired geophysicist who spent years working with the test-ban group's detection network. The Korean peninsula is wired to spot the tiniest shake from a nuclear explosion, Dahlman says. "It should have been able to see something."

      It was conducted on the Far Side of the moon; right near the Nazi base.

    • Nuclear detonations create telltale signatures on seismometers, which makes it pretty much impossible to perform nuclear tests without being noticed by the international community.

      You haven't been keeping up with your N.K. press releases. In 2006 Kim Jong Il personally invented a device which teleports earthquake energy from one place to another.

      The massive quake and resulting Tsunami that hit Japan was a result of a of a Nuclear Test, the seismic energy of which in turn was teleported out of North Korea. Jong Il was later quoted as saying "It worked really well. It's just that my aim was off, because I was soooooooo drunk. Otherwise South Korea would have been in some real s

    • Re:Seismic evidence? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Friday February 03, 2012 @04:00PM (#38919723) Homepage Journal

      Nuclear detonations create telltale signatures on seismometers, which makes it pretty much impossible to perform nuclear tests without being noticed by the international community. The article even admits this:

      Others remain deeply sceptical that the tests took place at all. Most troubling is the lack of any seismic vibrations to support the radioisotope data, according to Ola Dahlman, a retired geophysicist who spent years working with the test-ban group's detection network. The Korean peninsula is wired to spot the tiniest shake from a nuclear explosion, Dahlman says. "It should have been able to see something."

      A mate of mine performed this work in the late 80's and early 1990's, at a location I'll not divulge, but suffice to say the sensitivity of their monitoring equipment was completely saturated by the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake in Northern California. They could track every little tremor around the world, including mining explosions and pinpoint the location with great accuracy. This was part of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty adherence monitoring.

    • While Nuclear testing implies gigantic explosions of the kind to produce seismic evidence I imagine you can achieve nuclear fission without producing a giant bang.
      For example, I think nuclear power plants use fission to create power and do so without seismic evidence or gigantic explosions.
      And I am sure that it is possible to explode a small enough amount of the stuff to not produce noticeable seismic evidence.

      • by JSBiff (87824)

        "And I am sure that it is possible to explode a small enough amount of the stuff to not produce noticeable seismic evidence."

        I generally agree with your post - you can do non-explosive nuclear testing. However, I'm not so sure about the bit quoted above.

        It's my understanding, though I may be wrong, that in order to get an explosion, at all, you need a minimum amount of plutonium or uranium, and that the minimum amount still produces a heck of a bang. Further, if N. Korea is experimenting with fusion boosted

    • Nuclear detonations create telltale signatures on seismometers, which makes it pretty much impossible to perform nuclear tests without being noticed by the international community. The article even admits this:

      Others remain deeply sceptical that the tests took place at all. Most troubling is the lack of any seismic vibrations to support the radioisotope data, according to Ola Dahlman, a retired geophysicist who spent years working with the test-ban group's detection network. The Korean peninsula is wired to spot the tiniest shake from a nuclear explosion, Dahlman says. "It should have been able to see something."

      Reminds me of one of our famous theatre comedies, where a character - an apprentice - "waited until his master fell asleep and then he started silently chiseling the wall." (he has a suspicion that the master had bodies of young girls immured in his basement)

  • Now that they apparently have weapons of mass destruction they could be invaded, replaced their government with a pupp..., i mean, democratic leader, and put them in a modern world while oil or other natural resource is given to some friendly corporations. If you think you having a deja vu, dont worry, is just a glitch on the matrix.
    • by lennier (44736)

      invaded, replaced their government with a pupp...

      A puppy government? Squeeee!

  • It does make sense that the report should come from a Swedish scientist, for credibility.

    It was probably planted. An American or South Korean scientist would not have gained the same credibility, even if they most likely have been in the knowing for very long.

    Why Swedish? Well, Hans Blix (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Blix), who screwed Geogre Bush "the lesser", when they spoke of weapons of mass destruction was Swedish. That made Bush "the lesser" look like a cunt without a hole.

    Now, another, albeit yo

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's Hans Brix.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @03:50PM (#38919595)
      Kim Jong Il: Hans Brix? Oh no! Oh, herro. Great to see you again, Hans!
      Hans Blix: Mr. Il, I was supposed to be allowed to inspect your palace today, but your guards won't let me enter certain areas.
      Kim Jong Il: Hans, Hans, Hans! We've been frew this a dozen times. I don't have any weapons of mass destwuction, OK Hans?
      Hans Blix: Then let me look around, so I can ease the UN's collective mind. I'm sorry, but the UN must be firm with you. Let me in, or else.
      Kim Jong Il: Or else what?
      Hans Blix: Or else we will be very angry with you... and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.
      Kim Jong Il: OK, Hans. I'll show you. Stand to your reft.
      Hans Blix: [Moves to the left]
      Kim Jong Il: A rittle more.
      Hans Blix: [Moves to the left again]
      Kim Jong Il: Good.
      [Opens up trap, Hans falls in]
  • More like... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Friday February 03, 2012 @03:39PM (#38919419) Homepage Journal

    More like they had an accident and covered it up with "We make bomb for advancement of North Korean workers and great glory of Dear Leader"

    IIRC there was a very large explosion of a train car which they were pretty hushed up about, apparently Dear Leader, who only trusted rail travel, was on his train and not too terribly far from the accident when it happened.

    If this country didn't exist, with all its screwy behavior, Sci-Fi writers would have a tough time making it all up.

    • Maybe that would be due to the confusing habit of Sci-Fi writers only writing about Science Fiction. Tom Clancy might be able to do it though

  • It was fission, what they actually achieved, someone, somewhere, in their secret underground cavern labratories, mislabelled the experiment... They just couldnt admit the mistake and relabel it again.

    • That's not what I heard. I heard that the whole thing was based on an NSA audio interception. Apparently, Kim was getting ready to go on a picnic, and was packing a bunch of beer for the trip.

      Kim Jong Un (by telephone): Hey, dad, you got the beer? Don't put it in the old Cooler. It doesn't stay cold. Put it in the new Coleman we imported last week. I asked your butler to fill the bottom with water before he put it into the walk-in freezer yesterday. Is it ready to go?

      Kim Jong Il: Yes. Thanks
  • the measured energy produced was not quite enough to reanimate Dear Leader. next they will try adding a D-cell battery to the mix. assuming they can find one that hasn't corroded out.

  • Fusion is easy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Fusion is easy. You can make fusion with a tabletop setup. Overunity is the hard part. Explosive fusion is also hard. It wouldn't surprise me if the dear leader made some bigass Farnsworth Fusors and ran them knowing that people would be monitoring. It's a cheap way to fuel this kind of speculation.

  • by tragedy (27079) on Friday February 03, 2012 @03:56PM (#38919677)

    Nuclear fusion is easy. Pretty much anyone can build a Farnsworth Fusor [wikipedia.org] and there are all sorts of other ways to achieve fusion. Achieving net positive fusion isn't even that difficult for a country that already has fission-based atomic bombs. The problem is achieving net positive fusion that is stable, sustainable, and controlled.

    The question asked by the story title: "did North Korea conduct secret nuclear tests?" has a simple answer. Yes. Of course they conducted secret nuclear tests. It's already public knowledge that they have a nuclear program. They also, like every nuclear power, keep the details hush hush. Therefore, secret nuclear tests.

    • Sure they did. They also had a problem in the mid 90s when they had a Criticality Incident. [wikipedia.org]

      Not purely public knowledge, known in military circles and other groups that monitor satellite intel.

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      but a fusion bomb (significant energy yield from fusion) is hard to build. N. Korea doesn't have the means to do that. A boosted fission bomb is another matter, that just uses extra neutrons produced by fusion to induce more fissioning, but in those the fusion yield only contributes a percent or so to the yield of the bomb.

      • by iggymanz (596061)

        (while making a great boost in the fission yield)

      • by tragedy (27079)

        Yes, but a boosted fission bomb still achieves fusion and it's not a huge step from making a fission bomb to a boosted fusion bomb. I wasn't saying that they had a bomb from which most of the energy comes from fusion, just that it's not a bizarre claim for North Korea to say they've achieved some sort of fusion since teenagers manage it with old TV parts in their parents basements. I would say that a boosted fission bomb counts as net positive fusion also because, even if it does take more energy to cause t

        • If the source of the isotopes was a test -- and that's a big if -- a boosted fission weapon is a very good possibility. Going to a 'real' thermonuclear or 'hydrogen bomb' is a much bigger and less likely step. However, once a country has accomplished building a plain Trinity-style fission device, boosting with tritium or deuterium (or less commonly lithium-6 deuteride) is pretty straightforward if you have access to those materials.

          In addition, if the lower estimates of the yield of DPRK's two tests are tak

          • by tragedy (27079)

            And, with modern philosophy on nuclear weapons, no-one really needs weapons bigger than that. It's much more efficient to use lots of smaller nuclear weapons than a few really big ones to achieve total destruction. If you actually want to take out the other countries hardened nuclear sites to prevent them from continuing to fire at you, you might want a bigger boom. If you just want to maintain a state of MAD, around 400-600 kilotons is ideal. Of course, you still need a delivery mechanism.

            The thing is, as

    • The question asked by the story title: "did North Korea conduct secret nuclear tests?" has a simple answer. Yes. Of course they conducted secret nuclear tests. It's already public knowledge that they have a nuclear program. They also, like every nuclear power, keep the details hush hush. Therefore, secret nuclear tests.

      Agreed. Of course they have done tests, have bombs, and have reactors, so radiation should not be unexpected in North Korea. But any mention of fusion related to this is absolutely absurd and unrelated (other than the Dear Leader's ridiculous claims, which he may not have understood anyway), so this story does not shed new light on anything and should never have been posted.

      • by tragedy (27079)

        Yeah, but even building a farnsworth fusor as a neutron source for experiments in their nuclear program would be "fusion related to this". A country with a nuclear weapons program experimenting with fusion is completely unsurprising. As has been pointed out in other posts, boosted fission weapons that use limited fusion as a neutron source are pretty much standard for nuclear weapons these days.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      I believe the real question is if they have hydrogen bombs or not. But you are right, achieving fusion does not necessarily mean that.

  • Fusion....right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Friday February 03, 2012 @03:59PM (#38919717)
    That would explain why North Korea is one of the most brightly lit countries in the world. They have so much electricity available for everyone to use because they have harnessed nuclear fusion. But then, why does it look like this [newscientist.com]?
    • by Keruo (771880)
      Duh. Their fusion works with solar power..
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Invisible light.

  • "Secret Nuclear Tests" aka, they broadcast the event around the world but no one believed them.

  • by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Friday February 03, 2012 @04:10PM (#38919859) Journal

    N. Korea Detonates 40 Years Of GDP
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/n-korea-detonates-40-years-of-gdp,2068/ [theonion.com]

    "PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA—A press release issued by the state-run Korean Central News Agency Monday confirmed that the Oct. 9 underground nuclear test in North Korea's Yanggang province successfully exploded the communist nation's total gross domestic product for the past four decades..."

  • Dr. De Geer is using evidence of a fission reaction to support the conclusion that a fusion reaction occurred? That makes no sense whatsoever. I don't think a near fizzle/low yield detonation can even induce fusion in the first place.

    Evidence of a low yield uranium blast would make me think of testing a new weapons design and/or a composite core, not boosted fission.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Its because of the typo;

      While trying to invent a Dear Leader' Soda, they had a FIZZION event.

  • Let's just say they had a thermo-nuke test. That gives off some particular radiation. But I'm not seeing the connection between that and NK's supposed fusion reactor. One would think that the 2 would have some differences, such as a workable reactor giving off the radiation for more than a few milliseconds (or whatever).
    Or is this just another badly written TFS?

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