The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) conducted its sixth nuclear test on 3 September 2017. Preliminary estimates of yield are in the range of 100 to 150 kilotons (kt), although this figure will be subject to revision over a period of weeks. In the end, the degree of uncertainty is likely to be tens of kilotons. Some observers are jumping to the conclusion that this latest test had to be a thermonuclear test (so-called hydrogen bomb). However, this assessment is mostly based on seismic data, which has its limitations.
In contrast, radioactive debris, collected in the air shortly after a test can give unequivocal evidence of whether the test used plutonium or uranium as the fissile fuel. Debris also gives clear evidence of successful true thermonuclear enhancement using lithium and hydrogen isotopes. However, North Korea has spent a great deal of effort to conceal its actual nuclear test results, other than the seismic yield which cannot be concealed. It has had success in preventing the release of radioactive isotopes by carefully sealing the test tunnels in earlier tests (i.e. tests two to five), and thus hampering data collection.
North Korea claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb in 2016. While it leaked photographs of an alleged fission bomb, North Korea prevented Western scientists from getting the data they needed to verify the claims. Asserting that it now possesses a thermonuclear capability, North Korea has this week released images of what is purported to be a two-stage weapon in the presence of the country's leader, Kim Jong-un. These photographs show details that are consistent with future thermonuclear warheads for long-range missiles, but they are not necessarily the actual state-of-the-art.
It is true that a 100-kt yield is easily achievable in an underground test without any thermonuclear reaction whatsoever. The 1952 Ivy–King event in the US nuclear test program reportedly gave 500-kt yield without any thermonuclear reactions. In fact, a 100-kt yield in an underground test, where size and weight are no constraint, is much easier than designing a so-called miniature warhead with a 10- to 20-kt yield. From seismic yield alone, there is no way to judge whether North Korea’s most recent test was a fission-only test or a test using thermonuclear reactions. Unless radioactive debris is collected, North Korea's claims will have to be taken seriously in the absence of real data.
Without a doubt, North Korea has tested some type of nuclear explosive. But testing underground with strong containment makes it very difficult to accurately judge the true nature of the test. Was it a thermonuclear device or a large, simple fission device? In the absence of significant amounts of radioactive fission products, which are needed for exact verification, the jury is still out.
Unfortunately the average American will never get the real news until, and maybe not even then, after the EVENT!
Brad and Jill are/were your typical upper middle-class American family, except that was under the old classification which they differ from, unlike most of their neighbors, as Brad still has his management job at the public relations firm and Jill could be working full time but chose to take on temp consulting with her degree in finance.
Becky and Brad junior, their two teenage children, were visiting the grandparents during the summer break. Becky at Jill’s parents and Brad junior at Brad’s. They had done that for the last several years on an alternating basis. It was Jill’s idea of a Balanced Upbringing. Brad usually let her suggest and plan any family issues as a woman’s rights advocate despite his dislike of her mother; always referring to him as Bradley this and Bradley that. Hells bells, that woman!
Many of their neighbors were not so fortunate. The house across the street still had some of the police crime scene tape on the door. Stan had lost his job and after weeks of shouting by his wife he flipped out shot her, her dog and purportedly himself. Jill knew better, she saw his body with at least seven bullet wounds when they carried him out and heard the SWAT team joking about not having to recharge the tazer batteries.
They did not vote in the last two elections despite avidly following the issues. What use when one evaluated the candidates and carefully crafted outcome.
While they pondered the American Dream, their concerns were for their family with the mounting escalation of nuclear tensions that could lead to war and even god could not fathom the potential destruction, which they referred to as WWIV. They had both agreed that Rational Minds would prevail despite some real Nutcases in charge.
As was his routine on most Saturdays, Brad planned to check a few projects at the office by mid morning and headed down to the kitchen for coffee and a light breakfast where he met Jill standing at the sink.
Brad: Morning honey, coffee?
Jill: I’m boiling water, as the coffee maker is not working.
Jill: Also, the fridge is off. I opened the door for milk and the light won’t come on.
Brad: Maybe the circuit breaker kicked over.
Jill: Nope, I checked it. But that’s not the worst of it. I tried to call Karen to see if I’m on call this weekend and instead of a network, there is only a buzzing sound.
Brad – Alert now: Did you check the news on TV. CNN or BBC, maybe there’s a simple explanation for all this.
Jill: There’s no reception because there’s no power. Even Facebook is Faceless on my IPod.
Brad: I’ll walk over to Ed’s and see what up.
Jill: Brad your not getting it. I just came back from checking the whole dammed neighborhood; all is down up and down the area. I had to walk, the car would not start. Ed is just sitting on his porch mumbling incoherently about the funny looking clouds.
Brad sat down at the table and stared out the window at the darkening clouds containing the remnants of the EMF detonation in the atmosphere early that morning. Of course, there had been no warning siren as the grid Fizzled and Cracked before sunup!
We are Legion and Growing....