According to ABC
News, US intelligence officials have told the White House there is "a
real possibility" that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [DPRK]
is preparing to conduct an underground test of a nuclear weapon.
In particular, the Koreans have been observed unloading "large reels of
cable" outside an underground facility in Northeast DPRK, suspected to
be a nuke UGT site. The nuke to be tested would be placed at the end of a tunnel,
and arming, fusing, firing and diagnostic cables would be run from the nuke
to control and diagnostic bunkers outside the tunnel.
Then the tunnel would be "plugged," to contain the nuke explosion.
If the Koreans do conduct a nuke test – or even if they fake it with a few
tons of high explosive – we’ll never know whether the test was a success or
not, unless the test is successful, the confinement in the tunnel is insufficient
and the nuke explosion vents, allowing radioactive debris to escape into the
Quite a bit can be determined about the design of the nuke and its performance from a radio-chemical analysis of such debris.
But absent such debris, we’ll have to rely on seismic yield, which is not very
accurate even when the depth of burial is known, the surrounding geologic media
is well characterized and the exact time of detonation is known. We won’t know
any of these things.
So, as was the case back in 1998, when the Pakistanis said they
successfully tested a half-dozen nukes of different designs at an
until-then unknown UGT test facility, if the Koreans say they
successfully tested a nuke we’ll just have to take their word for it.
However, we do know that Jong Il has – courtesy George Bush – enough weapons-grade
Plutonium to make at least half a dozen first-generation implosion nukes.
Why "courtesy George Bush"?
Each no-nuke signatory to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear
Weapons agrees to conclude with the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) a Safeguards agreement. All "source" and "special fissionable
materials" as well as any activities involving them are to be made
subject to the IAEA Safeguards agreement. The IAEA is thereafter
responsible for preventing their "diversion."
When Bush-Cheney-Bolton came to power, Iran was required to subject to IAEA
Safeguards all uranium, plutonium and thorium – in whatever form and however
obtained – as well as all activities wherein safeguarded materials are transformed,
produced or processed.
But in 1992, the IAEA had essentially accused DPRK of having a clandestine nuke program.
The DPRK denied that it did – and there is no evidence even now that it did,
then – but under the Agreed Framework of 1994, the Koreans "froze"
all their nuclear programs, subjecting them to IAEA verification. In return,
an international consortium – led by South Korea – was to construct in the DPRK
two free conventional nuclear power plants. In the meantime, President Clinton
promised them annual supplementary shipments of fuel oil.
Clinton also vowed he wouldn't attack the DPRK – or any other NPT-signatory
– with nukes so long as they remained a NPT-signatory.
So, when Bush-Cheney-Bolton came to power, the Koreans were certified to have
not diverted any "special fissionable materials" to a military
So, Bush couldn’t nuke them.
Well, that would never do.
So, in his 2002 State of the Union Address, Bush said:
"Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from
threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass
"Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th.
But we know their true nature.
"North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction,
while starving its citizens.
"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."
Then, in October 2002, Anonymous [I] told media sycophants that Anonymous [II]
"admitted" to him at a cocktail party that DPRK had a clandestine
Never mind that the DPRK vehemently denies to this day having any such
program. Or that our intelligence community doesn’t have the foggiest notion
where this clandestine uranium-nuke program might be.
Bush promptly ceased fuel oil shipments, thereby unilaterally abrogating the Agreed Framework.
That caused the DPRK to withdraw from the NPT and resume their nuclear programs
– only this time they announced they intended to divert their weapons-grade
plutonium to a military purpose.
Like producing at least a half-dozen nukes.
So why not test one?
Or at least fake it?