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Default Another earth-shattering KABOOM from North Korea

May 25th, 2009, 11:28
This time, it was about 10-20 kilotons, which isn't exactly a squib — it's about the same size as the Hiroshima bomb.

[ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8066615.stm ]

So, folks — North Korea is nuclear, and it has ballistic missile capability of reaching the US. And, of course, it has a record of peddling that tech to the highest bidder, and of generally acting completely irresponsibly. If you want to worry about nuclear proliferation, IMO this is far, far more serious than Iran's program.

What do y'all plan to do about it?
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May 25th, 2009, 11:42
Can the Taepodong-2 reach CONUS yet? I thought it's range was limited to Alaska and Hawaii - assuming it even works correctly. Doesn't it have a high failure rate?

Anyways, really bad news and I have no idea what to do about it. I think the reason we focus on Iran is because, well, we can theoretically do something before they have nukes. We can't really do all that much to the DPRK. They've been isolated for decades and it doesn't seem to really matter. If China maybe cut them off entirely that could do some good, but there's no guarantee that the DPRK wouldn't just threaten to nuke Tokyo or artillery barrage Seoul into the ground if we didn't subsidize their economy.
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May 25th, 2009, 12:34
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
Can the Taepodong-2 reach CONUS yet? I thought it's range was limited to Alaska and Hawaii - assuming it even works correctly. Doesn't it have a high failure rate?
They just made what they called a satellite launch, only there was no satellite involved. From what I understood, though, the test itself was a success, and the rocket was capable of putting a payload in orbit. That means that it would reach the continental US, even with a somewhat heavier payload such as a relatively primitive nuke. The failure rate would certainly be high.

Anyways, really bad news and I have no idea what to do about it. I think the reason we focus on Iran is because, well, we can theoretically do something before they have nukes. We can't really do all that much to the DPRK. They've been isolated for decades and it doesn't seem to really matter. If China maybe cut them off entirely that could do some good, but there's no guarantee that the DPRK wouldn't just threaten to nuke Tokyo or artillery barrage Seoul into the ground if we didn't subsidize their economy.
I think the real problem is that nobody has given the matter serious thought. It's a second priority to everyone, and the result is an inconsistent policy that tries a little bit of this and a little bit of that, however the winds blow. This works about as well as trying to keep a half-starved grizzly under control by alternately poking it with sharp sticks and throwing meat at it.
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May 25th, 2009, 13:32
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
So, folks — North Korea is nuclear, and it has ballistic missile capability of reaching the US. And, of course, it has a record of peddling that tech to the highest bidder, and of generally acting completely irresponsibly. If you want to worry about nuclear proliferation, IMO this is far, far more serious than Iran's program?
Last time it was faked and I guess this time also. If they really had nuclear weapons, they'd made an in-air detonation.
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May 25th, 2009, 13:38
Originally Posted by hishadow View Post
Last time it was faked and I guess this time also. If they really had nuclear weapons, they'd made an in-air detonation.
The first test was authentic according to the United States and China. Russia has verified the second test as well. Most nuclear tests from the Cold War on have been underground tests, especially since the Limited Test Ban Treaty of '63. It's not like the DPRK has a lot of ground over which they could safely detonate a nuke if they wanted to do an in-air detonation.
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May 25th, 2009, 14:10
What's more, their nukes are certain to be fairly primitive designs, which means that they're going to be very dirty. That means a lot of rather dangerous fallout going over their borders. The geography means that they'd be irradiating one or more of (a) Russia, (b) China, (c) South Korea, (d) Japan. I have a feeling that at least some of these countries would consider that an act of war.

BTW, how exactly would you fake a nuclear test? Cart 20,000 tons of TNT into a tunnel and set it off? Do you have any idea of the logistics that would involve — that's a medium-sized container ship's worth of the stuff?

(Oh, and — the first test was, as Rith says, authentic — but it also appears that it was only a partial success, with comparatively low yield. This second one appears to have been fully successful.)
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May 25th, 2009, 14:30
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
BTW, how exactly would you fake a nuclear test? Cart 20,000 tons of TNT into a tunnel and set it off? Do you have any idea of the logistics that would involve — that's a medium-sized container ship's worth of the stuff?
Certainly something North Korea could put their mind to given that US conducted experiments in the 5000 tons range. The dictatorship of North Korea are pathological liars and you shouldn't take anything they say at face value.

I'd give you that there's more circumstantial evidence here than Iraq WMDs. Anyway, don't the US already have enough wars on their hands?
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May 25th, 2009, 14:39
But they couldn't get away with it. They're under extremely tight satellite surveillance, and there's simply no physical way they could get 20,000 tons of TNT down a tunnel without being noticed. There also remains the matter of producing the TNT — 20,000 tons is approximately the annual production capacity of the biggest explosives plant in China.

And even so, the seismic signature won't be the same as of a genuine nuclear explosion.

As far as I know, there is no way to fake a nuclear test this size.

Edit: The smoking-gun evidence is detection of certain radioactive isotopes in the atmosphere — there's always some leakage from an underground detonation. Such evidence was found after the 2006 test. I'm pretty certain we'll get this confirmation about this bomb too in a few more days.
Last edited by Prime Junta; May 25th, 2009 at 14:58.
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May 25th, 2009, 15:25
Originally Posted by hishadow View Post
Certainly something North Korea could put their mind to given that US conducted experiments in the 5000 tons range. The dictatorship of North Korea are pathological liars and you shouldn't take anything they say at face value.

I'd give you that there's more circumstantial evidence here than Iraq WMDs. Anyway, don't the US already have enough wars on their hands?
It's not circumstancial evidence - it's pretty clear from everyone who is skilled in this sort of thing that they detonated nukes twice. There's no doubt about it, at all. I'm not relying on anything from the DPRK, I'm relying on the US intelligence agency as well as Russia and China.
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May 25th, 2009, 16:25
So don't we all feel better now, knowing we sat on our hands over the missle test? Did the UN do us a favor there, hamstringing any efforts to chastise the DPRK for their "satellite launch"? Big ups for international diplomacy.

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May 25th, 2009, 16:38
It's not like we have any sort of viable unilateral option to rely upon.
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May 25th, 2009, 17:05
Those who know more please correct me if necessary, but I'm under the impression that the only sanctions from the international community that would really affect North Korea at this point would have to come from China, who appear completely uninterested in the prospect. Other than a hot war, besides ongoing diplomacy, I don't know what options we have over here at this point that haven't already been explored. Maybe this test will give them(China) a few worries on the subject. One can hope.

Re: the U.S.—wondering if this is going to be the "test" for Obama's young adminisitration that's been discussed rather than the Mid East…also, this looks bad for the two young women journalists being held over there as spies.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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May 25th, 2009, 17:06
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
So don't we all feel better now, knowing we sat on our hands over the missle test? Did the UN do us a favor there, hamstringing any efforts to chastise the DPRK for their "satellite launch"? Big ups for international diplomacy.
So, what would you have done? And how is the UN stopping you from doing it?
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May 25th, 2009, 17:31
I'm a bit ignorant on the topic, but why does a secluded state like North Korea need to be so hostile and threaten its neighbors and US with ballistic missiles? I would think peaceful relations would help the country more than continuing hostilities. Do they expect to extort their neighbors to submission? I would think peaceful trade deals with the nation's neighbours would be more fruitful in the long run.

As for solutions, if diplomacy and sanctions (by China too) could hold DPRK in reins until Kim Jong passes away maybe the country might have a chance to become more peaceful and open towards the rest of the world. Cuba has shown small signs of that happening after Castro's health has started to get worse. Usually dictators are too wary of assassins, so I don't think we can expect to send spies to take him out.
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May 25th, 2009, 17:52
Originally Posted by Surlent View Post
I'm a bit ignorant on the topic, but why does a secluded state like North Korea need to be so hostile and threaten its neighbors and US with ballistic missiles?
Surlent, all right-thinking, peace-loving people can understand and appreciate the value of ignorant assholes obtaining the ability to kill innocent people (the more the better — it's all explained here, in the political forums).

If you're having trouble seeing it, try turning your glasses around the other way. If that doesn't work, then maybe try closing your eyes and hopping around in a circle while chanting, "America's to blame…America's to blame…." If you still don't get it, then you're obviously a lifelong Republican (and should just give up).

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May 25th, 2009, 17:52
Originally Posted by Surlent View Post
I'm a bit ignorant on the topic, but why does a secluded state like North Korea need to be so hostile and threaten its neighbors and US with ballistic missiles? I would think peaceful relations would help the country more than continuing hostilities. Do they expect to extort their neighbors to submission? I would think peaceful trade deals with the nation's neighbours would be more fruitful in the long run.
The North Korean economy is in a mess and they arent able to feed their population. Historically they have oscillated between playing nice for aid (mostly food from south Korea) and outrageous tantrums followed by demands for more aid to return to the negotiating table. One can only speculate whether they genuinely believe this is the more productive course or whether they fear that any openness would risk the regime's hold on the country.

BTW, can anyone tell if this crap is sincere or parody?

Originally Posted by Songun blog
Nothing exemplifies the utmost courage and composure of Dear Leader Comrade Generalissimo Kim Jong Il amid the bloody battlefield than the story of his visit to Tabaksol Post in Juche 84 (1995).

In those days, having illegally brougth about the downfall of socialism in the world and seizing upon a grip from the passing away of President Kim Il Sung the Great Leader, the criminal capitalist warmongering US imperialists sought to provoke a war of aggression against the DPRK to enslave the Korean people under the eternal never-ending hell of bourgeois consumerism for ever. In these times the DPRK was at the crossroads of life and death struggle to protect and preserve the hard-won freedom, prosperity, and pluralist democratic single-minded unity of the Korean-style utopian socialist worker's paradise.

But on 1st January 84 Juche Dear Leader Comrade Generalissimo Kim Jong Il, Lodestar of the new Century, embarked upon the Great Field Guidance Tour which led Korea to the victorious end over the criminal US imperialists by visiting the Tabaksol Post on the frontlines of the anti-US anti-imperialist revolutionary struggle.

When the soldiers saw the Great Hero of Mt Paektu they fell to their knees sobbing profusely, pleading the Great General of Guerillas to retire at once.

"O, Dear leader! Please retire at once! It is unsafe with you here! The criminal US imperialists would surely seize upon an opportunity to attempt on your life with their illegal weapons of murder!" the soldiers said, begging the Beloved Leader.

At the expert suggestion of the troops a cravenly coward such as Bush would have fled the battlefield at once, but Leader Kim Jong Il is entirely cut of a different cloth, being the son of the Great Leader President Kim Il Sung who left his native home at the tender age of fourteen to fight the wicked jap reactionary colonialist warmongers in the great Anti-Japanese Revolutionary War, stood up from all his height, his bulging muscles rippling loudly under his frock coat. Glancing around in an instant he immediately and perfectly appraised the situation at hand.

"We may be in danger here on the front line" the Leader said, "but in this dire situation all Koreans are under the imperialist gun and we would not be a commander if we did not share our lot with the brave soldiers honorably defending our socialist revolutionary cause, the cause of Juche". Warmly, he added : "We are a Supreme Commander of Songun who shares life and death, sweets and bitters with the soldiers".

At these words the soldiers could not contain their emotions any longer. The burst into the massive weeping at the courage and bravery of the Great General. "Our General is the most courageous and bravest general in the world! May He live ten thousand years or for ever, whichever lasts longer!" they cheered on wildly, afire with a sincere genuine true throbbing to uphold the Leader with arms in single-minded harmony of anti-US anti-imperialist patriotic zeal, such is the greatness of Kim Jong Il the most praiseworthy leader in the whole world, the blessing of Juche Korea and Immortal Morning Sun of the Sky.

Then the Leader went round to aquaint Himself with the situation, visited the living quarters and set forth the tasks to fullfill in securing the great freedom of the nation by relying on the Songun Politics. He posed for a photo with the soldiers and donated an automatic rifle and binoculars to the unit.

This was the turning point in the great upswing of the history of the leadership of Kim Jong Il the invincible ever-victorious General of Songun on the path to building the great prosperous powerful country with is setting the exemple to the world.

Songs have been written around the whole world to immortalize this great historical event in the history of humankind to be handed down the many future generations.
Last edited by Zaleukos; May 25th, 2009 at 18:37.
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May 25th, 2009, 17:53
Originally Posted by Surlent View Post
I'm a bit ignorant on the topic, but why does a secluded state like North Korea need to be so hostile and threaten its neighbors and US with ballistic missiles? I would think peaceful relations would help the country more than continuing hostilities. Do they expect to extort their neighbors to submission? I would think peaceful trade deals with the nation's neighbours would be more fruitful in the long run.
Because they have their population totally brainwashed. I saw this documentary on…it was one of the documentary-ish networks. This team of eye surgeons was given permission to go into the DPRK and do operations on people with conditions that were serious in the DPRK but completely treatable in the West. Anyways, this team brought a camera crew along with them. They came back with a lot of footage, most of it pretty frightening. They filmed the people taking the bandages off, etc, etc after the surgeries. Every single person (and there were dozens, at least) did not thank the surgeons, but instead immediately went to the front center of the room, kneeled in front of the portrait of Kim Jong Il, and praised the Dear Leader (his official title) for healing their eyesight. This camera crew at some point managed to ditch their minders and get one on one interviews with some North Korean citizens. They asked one (and this is the scariest thing I've ever seen) if Kim Jong Il could do anything wrong, and the person could not understand the premise of the question.

It's in the DPRK's benefit to keep their people isolated. If they opened up to trade, eventually they'd lose power (if not the entire regime itself). The DPRK also has enough artillery pointed at Seoul to obliterate it - every war game scenario I've ever heard of results in the complete annihilation of Seoul even if nukes are not used - where something like 60% of the population of South Korea lives. They also have nuclear weapons, and could easily hit any city in their region and possibly targets in the U.S. as well. They have a lot of cards at their disposal and can use them to force concessions at the table.

Originally Posted by Surlent View Post
As for solutions, if diplomacy and sanctions (by China too) could hold DPRK in reins until Kim Jong passes away maybe the country might have a chance to become more peaceful and open towards the rest of the world. Cuba has shown small signs of that happening after Castro's health has started to get worse. Usually dictators are too wary of assassins, so I don't think we can expect to send spies to take him out.
It's possible, but they've already passed the dictatorship through one generation. Kim Il Sung gave it to Kim Jong Il on his death. Kim Il Sung is still offically the "Great Leader" and the Eternal President of the DPRK, by the way.
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May 25th, 2009, 17:57
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Surlent, all right-thinking, peace-loving people can understand and appreciate the value of ignorant assholes obtaining the ability to kill innocent people (the more the better — it's all explained here, in the political forums).

If you're having trouble seeing it, try turning your glasses around the other way. If that doesn't work, then maybe try closing your eyes and hopping around in a circle while chanting, "America's to blame…America's to blame…." If you still don't get it, then you're obviously a lifelong Republican (and should just give up).
Who's blaming America for this? I haven't seen any of the lefty intelligentsia here argue that the U.S. should have followed MacArthur's plan and drop 50 nukes on China to end the war in our favor back in the 50s.

And who here wants the DPRK or the Islamic Republic of Iran to get nukes? What you're saying is about as accurate as me saying my fellow Republicans hate poor people and want to use them as fuel in their evil greedy corporate furnaces to pollute the sky and turn it black, because they are all evil bloodsucking vampires and can't stand the sun's rays.
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May 25th, 2009, 18:20
Originally Posted by Rithrandil View Post
Who's blaming America for this? I haven't seen any of the lefty intelligentsia here argue that the U.S. should have followed MacArthur's plan and drop 50 nukes on China to end the war in our favor back in the 50s.
I guess I'm in a mood this morning. I'm not responding to anything in particular anyone has said in this thread. It was general sarcasm aimed at these political forums.

So the gumpy old man puts in his two cents, heh! (sorry).

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May 25th, 2009, 18:21
Originally Posted by Surlent View Post
I'm a bit ignorant on the topic, but why does a secluded state like North Korea need to be so hostile and threaten its neighbors and US with ballistic missiles? I would think peaceful relations would help the country more than continuing hostilities. Do they expect to extort their neighbors to submission? I would think peaceful trade deals with the nation's neighbours would be more fruitful in the long run.
They would be, for any sane state. North Korea, however, isn't a sane state. It's the last remaining totalitarian country in the world, based on absolute control of the population by the ruling party, and an iron-hard ideological discipline. One component of their ideology is "juche" — autarky. Their objective is complete self-sufficiency and independence of any external party.

They haven't achieved that, and IMO it's not a realistic objective anyway. But it does mean that they're extremely isolated, and the ruling party has no desire whatsoever to open up to the rest of the world, for trade or any other purpose. That means that we have very little leverage over them. China is providing the with a quite a lot of aid for the reasons Rith outlined, and they have the most pull with them. However, their freedom of action is severely limited as well, since pulling the plug would mean millions of refugees plus a highly unpredictable and potentially explosive situation, which is in nobody's interest either.

As for solutions, if diplomacy and sanctions (by China too) could hold DPRK in reins until Kim Jong passes away maybe the country might have a chance to become more peaceful and open towards the rest of the world. Cuba has shown small signs of that happening after Castro's health has started to get worse. Usually dictators are too wary of assassins, so I don't think we can expect to send spies to take him out.
I can't think of any solutions that would be much better. One thing that could be tried is bribery — Kim Jong Il is extremely corrupt, and it's at least conceivable that the entire Communist Party elite could just be bought off.
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