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.

Monday, October 09, 2006

North Korea Announces First Nuclear Weapon Test

'Czechoslovakia's former comrades from North Korea claim that they have successfully completed their first underground nuclear test. The U.S. agencies initially couldn't confirm the report but South Korea and Australia have detected tremor so the communist report is probably true. Later, USGS described it as a 4.2 magnitude earthquake, confirming the report, too. ...

'The success comes exactly at the time when North Korea is completing the construction of the modern socialist economy that will exceed and supersede the imperialist nations. Blah blah blah - I've been hearing these things for the first one half of my life.

'Of course, the Democratic People's Republic - or, more precisely, the Totalitarian Party Leader's Dictatorship - is far from being the first dangerous country that has opened this Pandora's box so it would be exaggerated to paint the situation as a real crisis. Nevertheless, it is annoying, especially because the socialist nation seems to have untested ballistic missiles able to reach the U.S. territory.' - Harvard University Assistant Professor of physics Lubos Motl's Reference Frame.

The BBC reports: 'Outcry at N Korea 'nuclear test'. North Korea's claim that it has successfully tested a nuclear weapon has sparked international condemnation.

'The White House called for a swift response from the UN Security Council, calling Pyongyang's move "provocative".

'Japan and South Korea also condemned the test and even Pyongyang's closest ally China expressed its "resolute opposition", calling the move "brazen".

'North Korean state media said the underground test had brought "happiness to our people".
The test, which South Korean media said took place in Gilju in Hamgyong province at 1036 (0136 GMT), has still to be confirmed.


  • Believed to have 'handful' of nuclear weapons
  • But not thought to have any small enough to put in a missile
  • Could try dropping from airplane, though world watching closely

Q&A: Nuclear stand-off

'But both the US and Japan said they had detected seismic waves. Russia said it was "100% certain" a nuclear test had occurred.

'The size of the bomb is uncertain. South Korean reports put it as low as 550 tons of destructive power but Russia said it was between five and 15 kilotons. The Hiroshima bomb of 1945 was 12.5-15 kilotons.

'The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says North Korea's claimed test does not necessarily mean it has a fully-fledged nuclear bomb or warhead that it can deliver to a target.
The US led calls for a swift UN response. White House spokesman Tony Snow said: "We expect the UN Security Council to take immediate actions to respond to this unprovoked act."


'UN atomic agency head Mohamed ElBaradei said the reported test was a grave threat to world security.

'Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is in Seoul for a meeting with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, called the claimed test "unpardonable" and urged the council to take "undaunted" action.

'The region was "entering a new, dangerous nuclear age", he said.

'He said Japan and the US would step up co-operation on the missile defence system they began after a North Korean missile test in 1998.

'We expect the UN Security Council to take immediate actions to respond to this unprovoked act.' - Tony Snow, White House spokesman

'President Roh said the claimed test had created a "severe situation" that threatened stability in the region. He said Seoul would react "sternly and calmly".

'The South Korean military - which has been put on a heightened state of alert - had the capability to cope with any North Korean provocation, he said.

'Seoul also suspended a scheduled aid shipment of concrete to North Korea, the state news agency reported.

'The North has relied on international help to feed its 23 million people for more than a decade and there are concerns the latest move could further compromise its ability to feed its most vulnerable people.

'In an unusually strong statement against its ally, China said the claimed test "defied the universal opposition of international society".

'The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Beijing says China's statement is an indication of how strongly it is angered by North Korea's action, although Beijing will still be loath to support tougher sanctions against Pyongyang.

'Historic event'

'When it announced the test, the North's KCNA media agency described it as an "historic event that brought happiness to our military and people".


  • Sept 2005: At first hailed as a breakthrough, North Korea agrees to give up nuclear activities
  • Next day, N Korea says it will not scrap its activities unless it gets a civilian nuclear reactor
  • US imposes financial sanctions on N Korea businesses
  • July 2006: N Korea test-fires seven missiles
  • UN Security Council votes to impose sanctions over the tests
  • Oct 2006: N Korea claims to have carried out nuclear test

'N Korea's mercurial leader
N Korea nuclear timeline

'It said the test would maintain "peace and stability" in the region and was "a great leap forward in the building of a great prosperous, powerful socialist nation".

'The development comes three days after the UN Security Council agreed on a formal statement urging North Korea to cancel any planned nuclear test and return to disarmament talks.

'Pyongyang pulled out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 and has refused for a year to attend talks aimed at ending its nuclear ambitions.

'North Korea's official media has long warned that the US was preparing to attack and developing a nuclear capability was the only way to prevent this.

'The UN Security Council imposed an embargo on the import and export of missile-related materials in July after North Korea test-fired several missiles.

'If confirmed, the test would make North Korea the ninth country known to have nuclear weapons.'

Nuclear test videos online

Baker underwater test 1946 (23 kt bomb detonated 90 ft under ship in 180 ft deep Bikini Lagoon): in colour:

Collapse of Baker test cloud to form radioactive 'base surge':

Umbrella shallow underwater test 1958 (8 kt Eniwetok lagoon bottom burst, 150 ft deep):

Wahoo underwater test 1958 (9 kt test 500 ft deep in the Ocean, well off the sea bed):

Grable nuclear test 1953 (15 kt nuclear shell for tactical warfare): and good film of effects of close in heat and blast effects on paint and forests (notice the smoke generated when paint is heated, protecting the underlying surface, and note that although the blast does blow over trees and vehicles, a person lying prone has a smaller drag coefficient and is less likely to be hurt - see previous posts on this blog for declassified reports on scientific analyses of these issues): and

Trinity, Crossroads, Sandstone, with proper discussion of the implosion Nagasaki type design and the gun type Hiroshima design, Greenhouse nuclear tests including explanation of the transit-time measurement of implosion in nuclear tests (the transit time is the time between electrical initiation of the implosion and the first measured appearance of gamma rays from the bomb using an ion chamber and oscilloscope), 'alpha' measurement (the rate of increase – multiplication rate of fission – determined by measuring nuclear radiation rise using ionisation chamber near bomb wired to remove oscilloscope, although this is subject to EMP disruption), filmed fireball expansion rate to determine total bomb yield and fallout sampling to determine fission efficiency and hence fission yield), fusion in the George nuclear test at Eniwetok Atoll and fusion boosting in the Item nuclear test. Operations Ranger and Buster Jangle at Nevada test site, including the 1 kt Jangle Sugar ("surface") burst test and its crater and the 1 kt underground Uncle shot 17 feet below ground test:

Duck and cover 1950 (the first official US government sponsored children's school civil defense film):

Biggest nuclear test ever, the 50 megatons Russian test on 30 October 1961 with massively exaggerated voice-over for example the ‘110 mile wide’ fireball diameter is exaggerated by a factor of over twenty, since the true air burst fireball diameter for 50 megatons was 5.2 miles not 110 miles! The claimed ‘40 miles’ height of the mushroom cloud is also an exaggeration, by a factor of over 50%, and the vague '30 miles' blast devastation area claimed is totally meaningless (cracked windows occur out to many times the range of high velocity glass fragment injuries and structural damage to buildings, so blast devastation is a subjective - meaningless - thing unless you specify exactly what damage criterion you mean, and to what sort of structure, or the overpressure level, you are referring to). At least it does honestly admit that there was no local fallout because it was 2 mile high air burst):

Blast effects video (Teapot Nevada series in 1955):


Assorted clips (with bad music - turn off the loudspeaker):

1955 Nevada Apple-2 test effects on buildings etc.: and

Mike test 1 November 1952 (10.4 megatons surface burst, the 'first full-scale test of a hydrogen device'), introduced in live format by Western actor Reed Hadley from the deck of the test control ship U.S.S. Estes (contains grossly speeded-up film of the cloud rise and expansion): and

Previous posts of interest to this sad North Korean news:

White House civil defense manual:

Fallout prediction and common sense:

Suppressed, safe neutron bombs inventor Sam Cohen given Peace Award by the Pope:

A good (although non-technical) new site discussing declassified nuclear test films is at, see

There is also the latest declassified data in this blog on measured EMP from high altitude 1962 tests (relevant since North Korea has missiles which can be used to detonate high air bursts), firestorm mechanism at Hiroshima, long term effects, etc.:

EMP devastation from a high altitude missile-carried nuclear detonation:

Fire storm analysis using hard facts from Hiroshima and nuclear test research:

Long term effects at Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

This blog is named after Samuel Glasstone, founder editor of the U.S. Department of Defense book The Effects of Nuclear Weapons:

Communism versus capitalism: This is not a political blog. I've had some false suggestions sent to me that some of the underlying ideas or motivations are right-wing. This is false. See for example the cover of the 3rd edition of neutron bomb inventor Sam Cohen's book here. That is not worshipping George W. Bush's nuclear politics very much!

What does annoy me are fake scientific arguments for political purposes. If you want total nuclear disarmament or even perhaps communism, that is fine, but I don't like the idea of exaggerating scientific information to try to bring about a destablising of democracy in a sneaky way. It is dangerous to put people off civil defence because you don't know what conditions nuclear weapons will be used under, or in what quantities, so you cannot claim to know for certain that everyone will be killed. That is actually an impossible outcome under the stockpiles available today.

A nuclear free world would be difficult to accomplish for practical reasons such as the widespread distribution of uranium and thorium deposits, and nuclear physics knowledge. Moreover, such a state would be destabilizing - even it was accompanied by a DEVALUATION of nuclear effects hype - because any country breaking the ban by making nuclear weapons would be able to hold the world to ransom under the threat of devastating cities.

(World communism is another solution suggested which simply is not very practical. Communism fails because people are not satisfied with it. Democracy of course does not exist, because in the free world money can be used to buy publicity and propaganda, so power falls into the hands of the corrupt and wealthy who can out-shout, out-spend, and out-bully rivals. But it is a better situation in some ways to communism which is a dictatorship system with even less safeguards against genocide than democracies have. Democracies generally have to fake evidence of weapons of mass destruction, before they can go to war on false premises, or declare a state of emergency, hold people without charge and accidentally shoot and kill innocent, wrongly-identified 'suspects'. Dictators simply do the same things without insulting the public with propaganda that is transparent. Far better to live in a democracy, where public is free to vote for whichever tyrant has the most lying propaganda and spin, than in a dictatorship where fewer efforts are made to cover up the farce. After all, Sputnik in 1957 did not carry a star spangled banner, not did Gargarin, the first person in space in 1961. Live in a democracy and you'll be spared all the money wasting of new innovations that dictatorships spend, because the brave politicians will spend it on clever schemes to make themselves rich when they leave office.)

Update 13 Oct 06 regarding comments above on capitalism: I saw a TV programme here in the UK on 12 October 2006 advising people to invest their spare cash in property in Romania, since it is due to join the EU in a few years. Watching that programme is a bit surreal. The people in Romania have on average very little technology, most of the roads are dirt tracks, it looks like the UK did in the 18th century. But here is a TV programme advising us to buy up all the cheap houses there so that we can make a fortune out of the poor people there by renting them houses at huge profits once the economic boom begins in Romania when it enters the EU. If any communists want propaganda, get a copy of that TV programme! I'm pro-capitalism probably by inherited prejudices more than by reason, but there is something sickeningly diabolical about the 'Matthew effect' in capitalism: the rich always get richer, the poor ... unless there is an economic crash, that is. (Maybe the economic crash will be caused by the 'peak oil crisis'; perhaps a peak oil expert like Lubos Motl's great friend Quantoken will drop by and make a comment?)

The world is supposedly going to suffer panic share selling and economic collapse when oil production passes its peak and begins to subside, anyday now: "The oil coming out of Saudis biggest oil fields now contains more than 50% water, and they are injecting 3 barrels of sea water to get one barrel of this mixed liquid out. That's a fact, not fiction. How much longer do you think the oil can continue to flow from the ground?" - Quantoken, comment on:

More on the alleged looming "peak oil" price flip / economic crisis: and also see and

Tony Smith plots the graph of the oil reserve and draws an analogy between oil and cat's milk:

'Almost Half of Earth's Easy-Flowing Oil is near the Persian Gulf ... By 2012 A.D. shortages will be severe.'

Unless Tony Smith's suggestions for alternative energy sources there are taken seriously, the side-effect of such an oil-shortage induced world economic crisis could well be the seed of war. Wars are especially hard to stop when there are limited supplies and resources, that have to be fought over.

Update, 16 December 2006:

2006 will probably be Britain's hottest year since records began in 1659, see the graph from

"The Central England Temperature Record (CET) is the oldest continuous dataset for temperature anywhere in the world.

"Its principal finding this year is that the average temperature for 2006 was almost certainly the highest ever seen in 347 years of CET measurements.

"Researchers cannot be absolutely certain until the year has ended. The average temperature for the year up to 13 December stands at 10.84C. In the 1950s, the CET showed an average of about 9.4C. 'This year sees the highest average temperature recorded since the CET series began in 1659, and the rise above the average is significantly higher than that for the two hottest years we have experienced,' said Professor Phil Jones of [University of East Anglia's] Climatic Research Unit. "

More: and,,1971637,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=1

19 July 2006 was the hottest July day in England ever, and I needed air conditioning the whole month (which is not usually needed at all in England). See

California has also been unusually hot: "In the United States, the first six months of 2006 were the hottest recorded in ... In Northern California, it was hotter for longer than ever on record, ..." -

What I don't like is the idea of spending money on this which just isn't effective, as oil and coal will probably escalate in price as they become more depleted, reducing CO2 pollution naturally.
Far better to make the best of the warming as your rational instinct tells you! Northern wastelands previously unhabitable will become new wildlife retreats. There is nothing unnatural about what is occurring, the idea climate change is a disaster because it causes change is a logical fallacy. Things are always changing. It may be tough on polar bears on the disintegrating ice sheets, until things settle down, but that's life. Ice ages have naturally occurred and then melted many times, sometimes very rapidly, causing problems for wildlife.