The effects of nuclear weapons. Credible nuclear deterrence, debunking "disarm or be annihilated". Realistic effects and credible nuclear weapon capabilities for deterring or stopping aggressive invasions and attacks which could escalate into major conventional or nuclear wars.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

7 kiloton North Korean miniature hydrogen bomb or neutron bomb test, 6 January 2016

North Korea today reportedly tested a 7 kt enhanced neutron or miniature hydrogen bomb underground, 30 miles northwest of Kilju, causing a 5.1 magnitude earthquake felt in South Korea, similar in size to its 7 kt pure fission nuclear weapon test of 12 February 2013.  We have shown previously how such enhanced neutron or neutron bomb designs maximise the prompt gamma ray emission that generates EMP when detonated at high altitude 100 km over a country (since the fusion neutrons scatter off the bomb casing to boost the prompt gamma emission).  Declassified U.S. two-point implosion patent information now openly available shows the design of such tiny, miniaturised nuclear warheads and the detailed missile warhead bus ejection patent declassification has enabled such nuclear weapons to be easily loaded on to existing North Korean missile systems:

Above: declassified EM1 Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons data on prompt gamma from different designs of nuclear weapon. Weapon type 13, the enhanced radiation weapon, is a miniature hydrogen bomb of low kiloton range yield, with approximately 50% fission and 50% fusion yield.  It enhances not only neutron output, but prompt gamma rays, which generate the strongest EMP field strength.  The 1962 Starfish Prime high altitude nuclear test of 1.4 megaton only had a 0.1% energy release in prompt gamma rays due to its thick outer casing, but the EMP from that small release of prompt gamma rays still fuzed streetlamps in Hawaii, 1300 km away from 1.4 megaton detonated at 400 km altitude.  By contrast, the low kiloton range type 13 enhanced radiation weapon, a neutron bomb (the mini H bomb North Korea tested today) releases 2.58% of its energy as prompt gamma rays, fully 25.8 times more energy per unit yield than the 1962 megaton range test!

This information suggests that the small North Korean hydrogen bomb, about 7 kt or so in size, may be a special EMP bomb.

Some of the usual mass-media dominating suspects, who scare-monger about our own weapons but pretend there's no risk of terrorism from enemies of freedom, have claimed that putting a fission bomb and a fusion fuel capsule into a shared case to make a neutron bomb is scare mongering because it's beyond the remit of Kim-Jong un's physics degree.  That kind of "logic" from famous media-loved "international security experts" (who I'm guessing don't want critical publicity) "proved" that there was no threat of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 because they knew Japan wasn't advanced enough to make special torpedoes for shallow water.  Likewise, some claim that although North Korea has tested successful fission nuclear weapons and missiles, maybe Kim-Jong un can't really put the two together, them due to the missile guidance system problem. But even old declassified Polaris missile guidance system patents are adequate for EMP high altitude bursts, because even with a mile or two error in burst position, the range of EMP from a high altitude burst is not significantly affected.  The original 1960's nuclear SLBM submarine system was Polaris.  The guidance system Polaris used was declassified and published as a 55 pages long patent in 1984 (linked here), and was simply an inertial gyroscope system, an improvement to the guidance system used in the WWII V2 rocket:

Openly published Polaris SLBM nuclear missile gyroscope guidance system patent, an updated V2 type. Although the argument can be made that this was "obsolete" by Trident in 1984 when far more accurate GPS satellite guidance became available (along with terrain contour guidance for cruise missiles), it is still relevant to high altitude EMP attacks, which have such large range effects that errors of a few miles are unimportant.  The arguments about "secrecy" boil down to truth versus scare mongering.  The reality is, we don't know everything about enemies, so there's always doubt, which proved costly in the past (Hitler's secret rearmament while the left disarmed, 9/11, Pearl Harbor, Sputnik, the real 1970's missile gap when the West was stuck but Brezhnev accelerated), but Fred Kaplan and colleagues and the mainstream media like the Scientific American, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, BBC, Guardian paper, etc., only want to publish obsolete 1960's nuclear accident scare stories about our nuclear weapons, that we have for deterrence; it's politically taboo for them to publish today's risks from enemy threats, those who have a problem with freedom and with its preservation by deterrence.  For such freedom hating, media dominating egotists and  hypocrites, anyone who points out a possible enemy threat is "scare mongering", whereas freedom hating, discussion banning, elitist egotists who earn money from repeating the terrorism-supporting error of the media in the 1930's (by scare mongering for our disarmament to accommodate terrorist propaganda and appease nasty people) are published, respected.

The "wall of virtual silence" in journalism created by "taboo" censorship, which applies to nuclear weapons and civil defense, in the context of refugee terrorism has been analyzed by Mick Ferrari: "In truth journalism is a pretty straightforward business ... when it comes to reporting ... the who, what, where, when, why, and how of any story ... What reporting is not about is choosing which facts are reported ... the BBC ... brings shame on the profession. ... the virtual wall of silence took almost a week to collapse ... viewers were left to think German men must have gone on some beer-fuelled crime orgy. The problem of course is that the [oppressive, freedom-hating, truth detesting, pseudo-] liberal elite would rather we never found out ... For them the supposedly wonderful multi-cultural world is a nirvana ... we must tolerate and indeed welcome other cultures but they must fit in ... the politicians who got us to this point are too scared ..."  It's indeed fear that Corbyn's CND tries to use to censor out truth, and it works where the media collaborate with politics.

Declassified warhead spin ejector mechanism for missile buses may provide North Korea's nuclear warheads with a simple proof tested missile delivery mechanism.  Also, U.S. military physicist Bernard E. Drimmer (who worked in the Explosives Division in the U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory, and died on 3 December 2008), an expert with numerous patents for shaped explosives, anti-tank mines, etc., has an unclassified US patent number 5450794, filed on 29 November 1963 and granted on 19 September 1995, for an implosion system relevant to compact nuclear shells, although the patent makes no mention of nuclear applications, but is passed off as merely a more efficient way of detonating conventional explosions.  Notice the shaping of the "inert barriers", or steel discs, which are thicker in the middle (pointing towards the core) in Figure 3 (showing the linear implosion system).  Linear implosion of this sort was first used successfully in the first successful Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory nuclear weapon, Teapot-Tesla (7 kilotons, detonated in Nevada on 1 March 1955) soon followed by an even smaller linear implosion weapon, Teapot-Post (2 kilotons, detonated in Nevada on 9 April 1955).  Linear implosion does not produce as much implosion pressure as a spherical implosion system of the same mass, but it does have the advantages of (a) requiring only two simultaneous detonators (reducing the complexity of the weapon design and allowing a smaller capacitor bank in the firing system, the X-unit) and (b) being a compact cylinder in shape, it fits into small nuclear bombs and shells.  For low yield weapons designed for battlefield use where the yield is deliberately not-maximised in order to avoid collateral damage to civilians due to fallout, the lower fission efficiency, due to the smaller core compression in linear implosion, is simply not a problem.

The simple radiation shield under the fission (primary) stage of a neutron bomb reduces pre-ionization that produces an excessive conduction current which otherwise shorts out part of the Compton current-driven EMP (high energy prompt gamma rays are only scattered through small angles in the Compton effect).

Declassified summary history of U.S. nuclear weapon design programs (useful for assessing North Korean research).
History of U.S. SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile) nuclear warhead delivery system design and solid missile propellant chemical development, which would provide a second-strike capability (i.e. invulnerability to a first strike while hidden at sea, and able to deter a first strike by guaranteed retaliation capability).  North Korea claimed to test an SLBM, but that may be propaganda, although they do appear to have missile capabilities, as we reported years ago:

In December 2012, North Korea successfully launched a 3-stage missile carrying a satellite, Unha-3, into orbit. Few hits on this blog from North Korea, but interest from Russia.  Judging by the size of the vast USSR civil defense system and early USSR EMP space bursts on 22 October and 1 November 1962, during the Cold War, there are no real "secrets" here for Russians to find.  They have the data already.


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un photographed on 29 March 2013 in front of a large map labelled “U.S. Mainland Strike Plan,” with missile trajectories plotted from North Korea to four American state targets: Hawaii (Pacific), San Diego (California), Washington D.C., and Austin (Texas). The question is, are these intended EMP target points (high altitude nuclear bursts)?

North Korea has tested nuclear weapons (0.48 kiloton on 9 Oct 2006, 2.35 kilotons on 25 May 2009, and 7.7 kilotons on 12 Feb 2013) and missiles,most recently placing a satellite in orbit on 12 Dec 2012 using a 3-stage rocket.  This indicates that North Korea could deliver nuclear warheads exceeding 7 kilotons yield to detonate 75 km over several major American cities, producing E1 (prompt gamma ray) EMP damage that could cripple the USA.  As the graphs and maps below show, even major inaccuracies in detonation location and altitude would have comparatively little effect on the devastating EMP results.

Above: E1 (prompt gamma ray) EMP field strengths for a 0.3 gauss magnetic field at the equator.  Over central USA, the EMP strengths are doubled because the magnetic field is twice as strong, about 0.6 gauss. Notice that owing to the conduction current, the EMP increases only slowly with bomb yield.  (Note also that the EMP that crippled 30 strings of streetlamps in Hawaii from the nuclear test 1,300 km away on Johnston Island on 9 July 1962 was only 5.6 kV/m in strength as Dr Longmire reveals in EMP interaction note 353, in the era before EMP-sensitive modern electronics, thus all of the damage in 1962 was caused to large relatively insensitive overload fuses, not microprocessors or computers and power supplies.)

If the North Korean bombs have a thin beryllium tamper and minimal thickness of high explosive around the core, quite a high fraction of prompt gamma rays will be released (3.5% of the energy of fission is in the form of highly penetrating ~2 MeV prompt gamma rays, many of which obviously can escape from small, low yield bombs with relatively little shielding around their core).  The distribution of the EMP over America is plotted in graphs below, taken from the recent 2010 report for the US EMP Commission, Meta-R-320:

Herman Kahn surveyed the wide spectrum of coercive uses for nuclear weapons tests - from underwater to high altitude (EMP effects) - in his 1965 book, On Escalation, pages 214-5 (linked here):

'Consider ... the use of nuclear weapons to coerce an opponent by means of a spectacular show of force. In this case, it is clear that there is an almost continuous spectrum of alternatives available. They can be ranked as follows:

'1. Testing a large weapon for purely technical reasons almost as part of a normal test programme.

'2. Testing a very large weapon, or testing on a day that has particular political significance, or both.

'3. Testing a weapon off the coast of the antagonist so that the populace can observe it.

'4. Testing a weapon high in outer space near the antagonist's airspace [EMP].

'5. Testing lower in outer space, or directly over the opponent's country [EMP].

'6. Testing so low that the shock wave is heard by everybody, and perhaps a few windows are broken.'

Preparations so far consist of research into the effects of 10 kiloton bursts:

Above: America is preparing for urban nuclear detonations due to nuclear proliferation, which itself stems from the attraction to dictatorships of exaggerated urban nuclear weapons effects hype from the cold war era.  In the Cold War, exaggerations aided nuclear deterrence of the tremendous conventional forces of the Warsaw Pact, which was relatively cheaply (compared to conscripting half the population into a conventional army).  For example, houses were built with a clear radial line-of-sight to the fireball in the unobstructed Nevada desert in 1953 Operation Upshot Knothole test Encore which proved that if we knock all the houses down in a city to prevent any shadowing effects, thermal radiation still cannot ignite a whitewashed wooden house, but will ignite one packed with inflammables at the (very dry) 19% relative humidity of that test.  The same stunt was repeated in 1955 at Operation Teapot, shot Apple 2, where again thermal, blast and nuclear radiation effects were exaggerated by failing to simulate the shadowing and shielding of a modern city.  In Hiroshima, the secret USSBS report 92 volume 2 showed that there was an enormous difference in mean areas of effectiveness for destruction of modern city buildings and the predominant wooden houses which are not found in modern city centres, which would be the targets for nuclear attack:


For further discussion of the North Korean nuclear attack threats, please click here.


At 3:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to go off topic.

What's your opinion on Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (short LFTR)?
The type of "safe" nuclear power reactor Kirk Sorensen is advocating.
Here is a 30min talk on it:
and another

It really seems almost too good to be true.
Someone should tell Elon Musk about this...


At 7:00 am, Blogger nige said...

Dear Anonymous,

If you read this blog, I'm sure you're aware that there is evidence that the collateral damage effects of nuclear explosions, including radiation, have been exaggerated for political propaganda similar to that in the 1930s when the incendiary bomb, high explosive and gas was declared by self-aggrandizing "pacifists" (politicians, science quacks) to doom London the instant a war broke out.

Also, there's evidence from the radium dial painters for a cancer radiation dose rate threshold of over 1000 R per 30 years or 30 R/year equivalent to about 4 mR/hour, which is 400 times the natural background in London.

Attention should be first directed towards to debunking radiation quackery by anti-nuclear bigots. Only a head-on war to annihilate pseudo-science can lead to rationality and progress.

Thorium-232 is an excellent nuclear breeder fuel like uranium-238 when subjected to neutrons, and the links you give are useful, but it is a disaster to "cater to prejudice" by accepting anti-nuclear bias and proposing more costly, safer nuclear reactors to deliver it. We have to coerce or debunk the populist politically biased media into an effective debunking of the myths of Hiroshima, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima before we we make any progress by having funds for real nuclear breeder research, let alone commercial reactors of this sort.

The entire British nuclear industry killed itself off over four decades by refusing to fight lying radiation quack propaganda effectively using SCIENCE, rather than patronising childish "explanation" booklets and poseudo-science like "authority". The lesson is that even honest technology can be killed by superstitions if people try to defend radiation effects truth using patronising propaganda, rather than cutting edge science. Thay is what you get from groupthink jobsworths, officialdom.

At 11:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. While i totally agree, i believe this to be an impossible task.
That's why Sorensens green/clean nuclear re-frame is necessary.

No way around it, just look at global warming, it's more religion than science, anyone having problems with the official narrative is called a climate denier.

People actually believe that Carbon dioxide, an odorless and colorless gas, is a pollutant! Good luck talking to the very same people about radiation...

You are a nuclear denier Nigel, to be funny.

2. By now there must be more data about the recent North Korean test, is it confirmed that it was was a hydrogen/special EMP device? There is doubt.

3. I told my favorite blogger about your sound wave answer, who promptly published it as it's own post, see: Flash, then Bang, and maybe say hello!

4. Have you ever heard about the theory, that whatever was planned in Project Chariot (part of Operation Plowshare, a research project to find peaceful uses for nuclear explosives.), was eventually tried in South America, unleashing/causing the 1960 Valdivia earthquake?

I read about this here:

By Gaby Weber, a German/Argentinian journalist who is big on primary sources, maybe you could read it an offer an opinion, it's very interesting if nothing else. I couldn't find any other English information, very strange.

That's it, thanks again, cheers!

At 10:14 am, Blogger nige said...

Doing the "impossible" used to be the hallmark of America (nuclear energy, defeating and deterring evil, going to the moon, etc., etc.) before the Comintern got its journalistic suckers into your mass media.

Now, you Americans have gone the "politically correct" way of the British Civil Service! Here's a video, and don't laugh but feel some pride, man (I have a feeling Trump will lose the next Presidential election to someone more politically correct):

Freedom Kids

Are you serious?
Apologies for freedom
I can’t handle this.
When freedom rings, answer the call!
On your feet, stand up tall!
Freedom's on our shoulders, USA!
Enemies of freedom face the music
C'mon boys, take them down
President Donald Trump knows how to make America great
Deal from strength or get crushed every time

Over here, USA
Over there, USA
Freedom demands liberty everywhere
I’m thinking, you see, it’s not so easy
But we have to stand up tall and answer freedom’s call!
USA, USA, with the land of the free and the home of the brave, USA
The stars and stripes are flying, that celebrate our freedom
Inspire proudly freedom to the world
American truth, USA
American pride, USA
It’s out of tune, it’s who we are
Stand up tall
We’re the red, white and blue
Fiercely free, that’s who
Our colors don’t run, no siree!

Over here, USA
Over there, USA
Freedom demands liberty everywhere
I’m thinking, you see, it’s not so easy
But we have to stand up tall and answer freedom’s call!

At 10:16 am, Blogger nige said...

Working link to Freedom Kids video:

At 10:41 am, Blogger nige said...

And here's just one uncontroversial, uncontested fact about North Korea that we can all agree upon regardless of whom we vote for or where we live: there are 25 million people living without their freedom there.

At 1:48 pm, Blogger nige said...

Thanks for your links.

At 9:55 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to thank you. I'm writing a book about a nuclear war and this website with all the information you have published on it has proven to be extremely helpful.

At 11:24 pm, Blogger nige said...

Thank you for that and good luck with your book.

Just a few bitter words about the book market for truth. I wrote a 150 page book in August 1990 about Nuclear Weapons Effects Theory, pointing out the extent to which the unobstructed desert nuclear test data exaggerates effects for modern cities (where building skylines intercept and absorb blast, heat and other radiations). The first publisher to respond (from memory I believe it was Donald Degenhardt of Oxford University Press, but it's a quarter century so don't quote me) responded if I recall correctly that there was no interest in technical details, just polemics and antinuclear books. The facts, Degenhardt claimed, had already spoken for themselves. The next guy was Rufus Neal, Physical Sciences Editor of Cambridge University Press, who was a bit nicer but was more interested in fashionable celebrity and is famed now as the editor of Steven Weinberg's pedantic and boring trilogy on Quantum Field Theory (a far more useful book on the subject is Matthew Schwartz's 2014 "Quantum field theory and the standard model").

Anyway, there's a big difference between truth and selected facts to support a theory. Truth is challenging the reliability of the interpretation of facts.

The mainstream approach is scream about the importance of "facts", not truth, and to present facts that support their argument, with little discussion about uncertainty.

They deliberately launch hate attacks on any completely different interpretation of the same facts. For example, if a nuclear weapon doesn't explode in an accident, they scare monger and say it came close to exploding. They don't admit honestly an objective analysis would find that thousands of people die annually in car crashes and millions die in large conventional wars, so even an occasional nuclear accident that went off in the worst case scenario once every few decades would be preferable.

The popular media - whether "right" or "left" politically - never raises these questions because they are into three main types of news: fashion, celebrity and scares. The only place they can put nuclear is into the "scare" category.

I'd like to write a popular modern physics textbook that resolves controversies by debunking all the fashionable sci-fi anti-understanding hype. However, it's clear to me that all these popular scams are replacement religions, which are defended with the same kind of irrational bigotry as the terrorism tactics of the self-deluded, ignorant anti-nuclear folk.

At 9:31 pm, Anonymous Trevor said...

Thanks; I'm hoping the book goes well. We'll have to wait and see.

One thing I've noticed is an appalling amount of ignorance about nuclear weapons. It's taken for granted that there's no way humanity could possibly survive and it's pointless to try. Statements like "we can blow up the world a dozen times over" are rather frequent.

I've read up on nuclear strategy and quite honestly, a significant part of both sides' stockpile would be intercepted or destroyed in an actual conflict. I would even say that most of it would be: between 20-30% would actually hit a target, depending on how suddenly the war builds up.

A question: would 5PSI be enough to destroy a modern wooden house? I know modern cities are mostly concrete, at least in the urban areas. Just wondering because even wooden homes are stronger than they were 70 years ago. From what I've read on Hiroshima at that distance... if you were indoors, you would probably live. If you were outdoors, you'd likely die.

At 11:42 am, Blogger nige said...

Thanks Trevor,

Hypocrisy over scare mongering is used to close down arguments after a one-sided selection of irrelevant facts (e.g. nuclear weapons effects in an empty, unobstructed desert which doesn't shield thermal and nuclear radiation and blast, and linear comparisons of explosive energy being conflated with properly scaled "destructive power"). They have found that fear and scare tactics prevent reasoned debates in the media. There's a beautiful example from Dr Helene Guldberg, “Ecoevangelism”, Spiked Science, 26 April 2001, where bigots used emotional non-quantitative pseudoscience to close down the argument without examining those facts, dismissing all errors as "uncertainty" that are not important, without comparing to other bigger risks (like conventional war or mass starvation from a collapse of efficient power, which may trigger famine and war):

“Jeremy Webb, editor of the New Scientist, started by emphasising that human beings have ‘as much destructive potential’ as that which brought about former mass extinctions ... First, global warming ... Webb asked – after the presentations – whether there was anybody who still was not worried about the future. ...

“When I pointed out that none of the speakers had presented any of the scientific evidence that challenged their doomsday scenarios, Webb just threw back at me, ‘But why take the risk?’ ... You could equally say ‘... Why take the risk of not allowing optimum economic development?'”

-Dr Helene Guldberg, “Ecoevangelism”, Spiked Science, 26 April 2001.

Please see my paper "Bad Attitude Accompanied by Contrived Strawman Agendas in Attacks on Factually Objective Criticisms" at which quotes Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart 1944 and John Stuart Mill's On Liberty.

“If a man reads or hears a criticism of anything in which he has an interest, watch ... if he shows concern with any question except ‘is it true?’ he thereby reveals that his own attitude is unscientific. Likewise if ... he judges an idea not on its merits but with reference to the author of it; if he criticizes it as ‘heresy’; if he argues that authority must be right because it is authority ... The path of truth is paved with critical doubt, and lighted by the spirit of objective enquiry... the majority of people have resented what seems in retrospect to have been purely matter of fact ... nothing has aided the persistence of falsehood, and the evils resulting from it, more than the unwillingness of good people to admit the truth ... the tendency continues to be shocked by natural comment, and to hold certain things too ‘sacred’ to think about. ... How rarely does one meet anyone whose first reaction to anything is to ask: ‘is it true?’ Yet, unless that is a man’s natural reaction, it shows that truth is not uppermost in his mind, and unless it is, true progress is unlikely.” - Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, Why Don’t We Learn from History?, PEN Books, 1944; revised edition, Allen and Unwin, 1972.

Basically, "professional science" people are earning a living by "doing science" which means someone is paying them, so they're in the same position as Guardian journalists or party politicians, a classic example of corrupt bigotry and unethical when it comes to censorship. Everyone is free to believe in flying pigs or whatever, but when they use falsehoods and abuse to censor out other people who put forward the facts, while pretending to be ethical, that's unforgivable.

At 11:42 am, Blogger nige said...

About your question, I've repeatedly gone into the fact that the damage done to a car, a house or shelter means that blast energy has been absorbed and the people inside have been protected, particularly if they can duck down on seeing the flash (before the blast wave arrives). If you look at the Dirkwood analysis from 1968 of the casualty rates in wooden houses in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for example in Figure 3 of my summary report:

you can see 50% mortality in Japan's wooden houses required 15.6 psi in Nagasaki (no firestorm) and 12.2 psi in Hiroshima (firestorm). The slight difference is due to the few people who were trapped in wooden homes that burned down mostly at a time of 2-3 hours afterwards, due to fires started from overturned charcoal braziers in collapsed wooden homes. Contrary to "instant burning" lies from CND, nothing in homes except black coloured air raid curtains in exposed windows on a radial line to the fireball within 2500 feet radius were ignited by the heat flash, see

The reality is that most of the blown up wooden house debris (apart from glass) in the 1953 Annie test and the 1955 Apple-2 test was filmed to blast OUTWARDS from the house. The walls can be seen in the cine films to crack and bend in a foot or so, when hit by the blast, while the compressed air enters the house through broken windows. Then the weakened, cracked house explodes outwards as the negative (suction) phase of the blast arrives. If you look at the photos taken straight after the Annie house, the walls have blown outwards but the first floor hasn't collapsed (partition walls and staircase are still holding it up). It was precarious but people would have been able to get out alive. It was later demolished to avoid accidents. Exactly the same applies to the brick house hit by 5 psi at Apple-2 in 1955: Glasstone gives a photo showing the first floor still standing helped by the staircase and some partial remains of partition walls, the external walls being blown outwards. But an aerial photo showing the apparently completely collapsed debris after demolition was misleadingly included in the 1979 US Congress Office of technology Assessment report, "The Effects of Nuclear War", to try to justify the false assumption of 50% mortality at 5-6 psi!


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