Tuesday, February 12, 2013

North Korean Nukes

The newsies have been chattering about the North Korean nuclear test all day.  Amid the torrent of words on both lefty NPR and righty Fox, the one important number has NOT been given.  A further example of innumeracy among the newsies.  They can't count, can't add, can't subtract. 
  The missing number is yield, in kilotons.  The first two North Korean tests were fizzles.  Their yield was so low (1 kiloton) as to tell us something went wrong and the bomb barely went off.  Any decent sort of nuke ought to have a 20 kiloton or better yield. 
  Question for the world's newsies.  Did this North Korean test yield enough to make us think they have it working right?  A yield of 20 kilotons makes them a nuclear power.  One kiloton makes them wannabes.
  The chattering classes have taken the North Korean claim of "miniaturized" to mean the bomb is small enough to put on their ballistic missile.  You can believe as much of that as you want to.   


Evan said...

It took me awhile of digging, but the estimate is between 10 and 15 kilotons, similar to their last test.

Some news agencies goofed on the numbers early on with estimates of 40 kilotons, but I was skeptical since that would take an enormous quantity of Uranium. I doubt they can make a plutonium based weapon without the necessary breeder reactors and focused implosion lenses.

Dstarr said...

Hmm. A day or so later the Wall St Journal said "preliminary estimates" were 6 to 7 kilotons. Preliminary meaning that who ever they were talking to wasn't too sure yet and was hedging his bets.
As far as I can remember the yield on both their previous tests to be in the 1 kiloton area, i.e. two fizzles in a row.

Evan said...

It depends on who you ask. The second test wasn't considered a fizzle, but it didn't have a large yield, maybe 5-10 kilotons.

This one appear to have been successful, but since the geology of North Korea isn't very well understood the guesstimates are between 1 and 20 kilotons.

Dstarr said...

Too bad. Doesn't look like we can do much about it, other than sending 'em nastygrams. Maybe the Chinese could be talked into reining them in? Maybe the South Koreans could destabilize the Kim regime?