Talk:2009 North Korean nuclear test

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Good article 2009 North Korean nuclear test has been listed as one of the History good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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September 3, 2009 Good article nominee Listed
In the news A news item involving this article was featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "In the news" column on May 25, 2009.

Kenya's opinion[edit]

The article that was used to 'quote' Kenya's 'opinion' appears to have been misused. In the article the quote comes from a Chinese official. No where in the article does it give any opinions from any Kenyan officials, the article is just from a Kenyan news company. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:35, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

"We are now in a very sensitive moment," said ambassador Zhang Yesui of China, the main ally of the secretive North Korean regime of Kim Jong-Il. "Our position is that the council's reaction has to be cautious and proportionate," he said after the three-hour closed-door talks of the 15-nation council. Further negotiations were set for Monday.
the anon is correct you are producing a very poor article here ppl85.72.92.98 (talk) 01:28, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
and some1 needs to change the top-right image to it's previous version (in wikicommons) for consistency with the article about n. korea's previous n. test85.72.92.98 (talk) 01:34, 29 May 2009 (UTC)


Did it fizzle like last time or not? (talk) 04:19, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Hard to tell until there is some detailed analysis on the geology of the area. The last test only a few miles away gave a magnitude 4.2 quake. This one was 4.7, which is about 3.2 times the strength. For the 2006 test, JDW said a magnitude 4.2 could be anything from 2-12 kt but it turned out to be probably 0.55 kt. A 4.7 could be in the vicinity of 2 kt but this is just speculation until there is some more detailed analysis of the seismic data. (talk) 05:13, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
Russian Defence Ministry is saying 20 kt. (talk) 07:00, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
10–20 kilotons [1]. Physchim62 (talk) 12:53, 25 May 2009 (UTC) probably too high. The Russian Defense Ministry consistently estimates higher than anyone else. It's probably more like 1-10 kt. Which is more than their first one, to be sure! -- (talk) 14:43, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
I've posted some most range estimates as well as a discussion of the fact that the Russians always have very inflated views of North Korean advances (for reason nobody is quite sure about). -- (talk) 14:52, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

If the Russian ministry said 10-20 kilotons, it's probably correct. Calculations by such simple formulae are childish, every serious engineer, geologist and mathematician would say that, and presenting it as reliable information isn't suggested. You can never calculate a detonation yield only knowing the seismic activity, as there are many other factors, which remain unknown - type of rock, test depth, horizontal tunnel or vertical pit, and so on. - Biohazard orange.svg Tourbillon A ? 14:54, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Why would you assume "it's probably correct"? The Russian ministry said their last test was 5-15 kt — everyone else puts it as less than 1 kt. There are numerous other examples of the Russian ministry saying the North Koreans accomplished all sorts of things that nobody elses' data agrees with. Nobody is quite sure why the Russians consistently estimate high (it is either because they politically get something out of it or because technically they are making some mistakes) but it is well known that they do so.
Anyway, obviously there are a lot of unknowns in such calculations, but this isn't the first time they've dealt with this particular test site. If there is uncertainty in the calculations we should definitely mention it, which is what a more full range does than the very high assertion by the Russians does. -- (talk) 15:03, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
re: ArmsControlWonk:" Blogs are NOT sources. And "respected" by who?" By the arms control community, by the mainstream media. These aren't cranks. Anyway, whatever. At the moment the mainstream news sources are waaay behind in the analysis, as usual, and so we must be too, I guess. Ironically, you took out one that just listed numbers from other sources — if I had more time, I could insert those numbers more directly, and that would fine, no? But oh well. Easier to remove than to add things, as we all know. -- (talk) 15:08, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
I counter: The United States always UNDERESTIMATES what North Korea does - they supposed North Korea won't test a nuke soon in 2006, well, they did. The United States used to think China wouldn't have it's new class of nuclear submarines earlier than 2010 - they got the first one in 2007. It is well known the United States has unreliable intelligence services. The yield for the first test also remains uncertain, and if the Russians said 5-15 kilotons, why would 5 kilotons for example, won't be correct ? Besides, so far this is the sole reliable statement. Blogs are not sources, I will continue saying it. "Arms control community" ? Who's that ? Several dozens of analysts who never held a weapon in their hands, but know everything about ballistic missiles ? I mean, not even is a reliable source. All the mainstream media provide the Russian data, and as of now, they're the only serious source we have on our hand. If some pseudo-specialists from institutes with dubious quality want to calculate nuclear blast yields by 5th grade formulae, let it be so. Their place isn't here. - Biohazard orange.svg Tourbillon A ? 15:14, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
OK, if you don't acknowledge the existence of an arms control community, you probably aren't going to get very far in editing on such pages... it is a large professional community of analysts, they have journals, conferences, etc. The Arms Control Association is their main professional body. They are academics and think-tankers and government-types who deal with questions of arms control. It has been fairly established for some time. They provide a lot of the analysis that ends up in mainstream news stories.
Nobody agrees with the Russian analysis of the 2006 test—even the North Koreans have admitted that basically something went wrong. I'm not talking about US analysis as the counterpoint—US, Europe, Japanese, South Korean, you name it. Not to mention the fact that the Russians seem to be the only group, along with the North Koreans themselves, who contend that they actually put a satellite in orbit rather than at the bottom of the sea. (Amusingly, some of those members of the arms control community you note actually have held a weapon in their hands—Sig Hecker, for example, the only Western analyst allowed to actually handled North Korean plutonium.)
Anyway. The point is not what you and I believe but to give some indication that yield calculations are uncertain and that 20 kt is a pretty high estimation to take without any sort of qualification. I've put in another estimate from a reliable source (major academic group). I think that will do for now. I took out all of the OR as well, which in all of the discussion above I think we both missed. -- (talk) 15:29, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
The satellite was nearly 11 years ago so I don't think it's worth any consideration. Incidentally, from what I can tell the evidence Russia ever even claimed the launch of Kwangmyŏngsŏng-1 was a success is weak. And let's not forget "The United States initially claimed the launch was a test of a Taepodong-1 intercontinental ballistic missile,[5] however it later agreed that the rocket's trajectory indicated an orbital launch attempt.[1]" (The US appears to have a history of similar claims) Nil Einne (talk) 21:01, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

The so-called arms control association is valid mostly for the United States - does that mean the rest of the analysts in the world are unreliable ? My history teachers also used to write studies and participate in conferences. That doesn't make them reliable sources. You wanna know why I guess the USGS data is unreliable ? Because it puts the hypocenter of the tremor at about 10 kilometers of depth. That's twice as deep as an average oil well, not to talk about a coal shaft. It would make it extremely difficult from a technological point of view to burry a nuclear device at such a depth. - Biohazard orange.svg Tourbillon A ? 15:39, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

It really doesn't matter what you think about either of these things. The point is, the arms control community exists. They are the people who are asked about such things. Some of them are no doubt unreliable but as a collective they contain a lot of voices. If you are going to dismiss them you might as well dismiss every other specialist community.
Anyway, I've dropped the bit about calculation from USGS data anyway, we can't do the calculation ourselves, that goes very obviously against WP:NOR. -- (talk) 15:59, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
Tourbillon, you're straying into OR. And there's no sign you're qualified to do that, unless you'd like to talk in private about your participation in a previously publically unknown Bulgarian weapons program. If you were involved in one, my email address is easy to find, and as with several other European countries programs your information will remain private other than as input into technical and policy analysis.
There are people in the arms control community who have handled weapons. Some built them. Some of them designed and tested them.
The Russians said the first test was bigger to start with, too. Their read on the geology is wierd - they appear to think something about the local water table near the test site and the rock characteristics that are not what the other international consensus is. Nobody is exactly sure what the yield was for the first - the NK haven't said, and the early sub-kiloton western estimate has held up as long term outside consensus.
Based on similar geology at the second, nearby test site, and the increased seismic signature, the yield is something like 3-8 times more this time. But the similar geology at the second test site is an estimate and assumption - we know it's geographically nearby, but they could have tested in a larger cavern / boreshaft, or the rock could be different even though they're not that far apart.
Ultimately we can only report here what others outside in reliable positions say, even if some of us are involved in the outside discussions. But there's a clear consensus so far for a mid yield (around 4 kt for now), from the US, South Korea, Japan, China, independent experts with the traces, etc. Russia is an outlier.
Who knows what consensus will be in a month and in a year. The NK government could just tell us what the yield was, but haven't shown any inclination to so far.
Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 22:09, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
As an aside, the Russian geologists estimated the quake at 5.0, the USGS at 4.7, the Norwegians at 4.5. The South Koreans and Japanese are going with the US numbers, apparently. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 23:45, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
This strays into WP:OR, and obviously can't be used in the article, but assuming all other factors are equal, the difference in energy between the seismic magnitude of the first test and the second test shows an energy release roughly five times as large as the first test. Going by the generally-accepted 800-ton yield of the first test, that would indicate a yield of four kilotons.
My wild-ass guess as to what that indicates is that this is a successful test of a redesigned version of the original weapon, since the Chinese indicated that they were initially told the design yield of the 2006 test was four kilotons. Given how difficult it is to design weapons of such small yield, I wouldn't be at all surprised by it taking two tries to get it right, particularly for A) the first design actually tested, and B) an attempt to be efficient with fissile material. (The US had no trouble developing a reliable one-kiloton weapon in the late 40s/early 50s, but that was done by mismatching an early implosion apparatus with a later-model pit designed for better compression. The result could be called a deliberate fizzle, an exceedingly inefficient design that was nonetheless used a LOT in effects testing because it gave a yield that was both highly consistent and easy to do the math with during the analysis. Inefficiency didn't matter, because by that time, we were making huge amounts of weapons-grade Pu-239 and HEU per year. The North Koreans have a very limited supply of fissile material at this point, so their designers have to make efficiency a top priority.)
Still, as I said before, none of this can be used in the article, as I'm not an expert who'd be quoted by a secondary source... rdfox 76 (talk) 13:10, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
What possible reason is there for NK to deliberately scale down the size of the explosion? This must be the biggest blast they are capable of. It's about the same size as Minor Scale, which suggests we are looking at about 5,000 tons of ANFO. Kauffner (talk) 13:44, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
As Rdfox has said, while OR, it seems likely given the limited amount of fissile material, it's rather likely NK can't afford to waste it, and therefore it's also rather likely they will use the least amount they can get away with. Let's not forget reliably producing a small nuke is generally far more difficult then making the biggest damn nuke you can so if NK really want to show off to those that matter, reliably producing a small nuke is actually far more sensible then producing Tsar Bomba particularly when your opponents know you don't have much fissile material. In other words while NK may have been able to use most or even all their fissile material to show off they can make big nukes, it wouldn't really leave them any better off then they are now, and probably a lot worse. I guess this is a suprise to you, but when you have limited resources, you have to make the best use of your resources you can, not waste it all to show off leaving nothing to actually use for useful purposes. Even the NKians must realise that. Nil Einne (talk) 14:06, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

It's not nessecary that the small yield is due to the supposedly insufficient quantities of plutonium North Korea has produced, although this could also be a reason. A large blast would produce a much stronger quake (which on its turn may cause damage to buildings in a certain radius, and North Korea ain't one of the largest countries in the world if you get my point), radioactive contamination would also be stronger. The site of the test was previously an anthracite coal mine, one of the deepest in North Korea, and it is known there's a lot of subsurface waters in the area. In any case, such a miniature working device would mean the North Koreans have a pretty advanced nuclear program. - Biohazard orange.svg Tourbillon A ? 18:44, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Other countries with a nuclear weapons program typically start off with a 12-20 kiloton blast because that is the easiest size to designed and build. The only reasonable explanation for a smaller blast is a hoax or a fizzle. Even India's 1974 test, which was a bit of a fizzle, was 5 kilotons -- much bigger than NK's first test (and it seems this test as well.) NK has faked everything -- satellite launches, counterfeit U.S. money, the Dear Leader's birthplace and golfing score, POW remains, etc, etc. The history of the NK missile testing program suggests they have serious problems with anything technically sophisticated. Why assume they are too honest to fake a nuclear test? Aren't you the least bit embarrassed that you fell for the ridiculous Russian claims? Kauffner (talk) 02:25, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Two blind men and a monkey could assemble a Fat Man clone today and detonate it for PR purposes. The fact that this yield was so low (they stated 4 kt to China before the first, and that's right in the range the second seems to have credibly been) is more likely an indication of a more sophisticated, smaller design.
We're off into OR - which I won't put on the article, as I know WP policy just fine - but as I do this research fairly seriously on the technical side of things, I am happy to talk about it on the talk page here.
The first test was unambiguously nuclear - fission product isotopes were detected in the air downwind over the week or so following the 2006 test. The isotope ratios matched a test, in the sub kiloton yield, and matched the Pu isotope ratios from their supply that they were known to have produced. These things are all fairly obvious if you know the physics. Pu from different sources has different minor contaminants. Most Pu doesn't get transmuted in most bombs. The type and ratios of daughter isotopes change with yield as well - how many isotopes which require 2, 3, 4 neutron interactions were produced as daughter isotopes in the reaction. So if you get good air samples (which anything but perfect sealing will do), you nearly always can tell yield and source of the material.
This test was unambiguously bigger in seismic magnitude. The magnitude ranges overlap (depending on your guess as to the geological coupling and the size of the test chamber) with the 4 kt yield they announced to China before the 2006 test.
Ockham's razor falls on a successful 4 kt-ish test. Your mileage may vary.
Moreso, a 4 kt weapon with significant fusion boosting would have much more militarily effective yield. With D-T gas mix introduced into hollow core, once yield exceeds around 250-350 tons TNT equivalent the D-T fusion reaction ignites and produces little direct energy but plenty of high energy neutrons. One mole of D-T gas (half a mole of T and half a mole of D) will result in ten kilotons of additional fission (3 or so directly from the neutrons, the rest from secondary neutrons off those direct fissions), plus or minus epsilon. A weapon with five kilograms of Pu and two moles of D-T gas would reach 20 - 25 total kilotons yield with boosting - well aligned with US mid 1950s weapons results, and perfectly servicable as a countervalue deterrent weapon.
And a weapon with mid 1950s US technology, an unboosted yield of 4 kt, and five kilos of Pu plus or minus epsilon will fit in their IRBM warheads. Look at the Brok design - Mark 12 nuclear bomb - which was tested in the early 50s ( [[2]] - Snapper Easy and Snapper How in May and June 1952). 12 kilotons plus epsilon, 22 inch diameter. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 03:33, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
The public announcement was just said "radioactive debris" was found. This was probably xenon and krypton, not necessarily plutonium.[3] Pu isotope ratios? Are you making this up as you go along? Kauffner (talk) 04:11, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
I wish I was making this up as I went along. I would undoubtedly sleep better.
I've been one of the nuclear proliferation techie wonks for a couple of decades now, though my focus is more on devices than detection afterwards. Well buried and sealed underground tests characteristically vent small amounts of materials anyways. Less likely the Pu itself, but in many occasions some of it does and the source is traceable (or at least suggested). The daughter isotopes which are gases always leach through rock at least a bit - you'd have to fire in a sealed metal container to avoid that happening at all. They can often tell you yield, by the relative abundance of the isotopes.
I don't have any references handy, but the technique is discussed in various nonproliferation journals, reports on detecting covert weapons tests, a few declassified US reports on other people's tests.
You get far better results (more precise) if you get material samples from the test cavity - the non-gaseous isotopes let you crosscheck results, etc. But just the gases are very useful.
I haven't seen the actual technical report from the air sampling flights after 2006 - so I'm taking it on faith that it's accurately reported - but it was widely discussed in the NPT community that the results confirmed a sub-kiloton test in 2006. There tends to be no advantage to anyone falsifying proliferation intelligence / data gathering.
The only people who know "for sure" are the North Korean designers, who so far have not openly commented, but the US has been doing that type of data gathering on Russian, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani tests going back decades, and we got pretty good at it. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 07:48, 27 May 2009 (UTC)


There hasn"t been passed any reslution in UN SC after 5. April 2009 and the cited source doesn't mention the rocket. Or would you be as nie to quote that part? --Ksanyi (talk) 11:04, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Image needs discussion[edit]

As it is presently used, the seismic map from the USGS to most people serves mostly an ornamental purpose. The article should have a discussion about what to look for in the image and how to interpret it. __meco (talk) 16:37, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

It just gives the location of the seismic event. I'm not sure there's anything more to look for in it? The orange just means "today", the size just indicates the magnitude (which is given in the article itself). -- (talk) 16:48, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
Then, at least, the caption should be changed to reflect this lack of concrete data related to today's event. __meco (talk) 17:22, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

North Korea or People's Democratic Republic of Korea?[edit]

I've already reverted this twice, so I want to see if I'm acting with the consensus: should the country in question be referred to by its official name - the People's Democratic Republic of Korea - or its more commonly known, more easily recognized name - North Korea? It's North Korea in the title, it's North Korea in the article on the 2006 test. It's North Korea in the North Korea article! Bsimmons666 (talk) 18:26, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

The official name is Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, or DPRK (not PDRK). There should be at least one reference using the official name, but there's no reason to be dogmatic about it. NPguy (talk) 18:53, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree, although our naming conventions would tend to persuade our use of the most common name, there's no reason not to include the official name somewhat prominently, especially if North Korea is discouraged used by the North Korean government itself (I don't know if that's the case though). __meco (talk) 19:04, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
I added a brief mention in the Background section which I think will do. -- (talk) 19:16, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Related articles[edit]

I haven't been keeping up with this moving target, but someone who has been working on this article should take a look at recent changes to North Korea and Weapons of Mass Destruction. There seem to be errors and unqualified overstatements, and it may be better to cut back and insert a cross-reference to this article. NPguy (talk) 19:13, 25 May 2009 (UTC)


Does anyone know at about what time on 25May it was detonated? (talk) 19:37, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

USGS put it at 06:00:03 UTC. (I wish someone would restore the GUI version of the map image which says this and matches the 2006 test better.) -- (talk) 19:55, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

When will they STOP?[edit]

Does anyone know what is being done to stop them, before they do a crime blasting some city, just to demostrate they can? Please include this information in the Main Article. MX -- AGS -- --Dagofloreswi (talk) 05:20, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
This is not a forum for general discussion of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction, or anything else not directly related to this test. Nezzadar (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 22:48, 3 September 2009 (UTC).

Economic Impact[edit]

How can you be sure that this had any effect at all. Stocks have been going crazy for the past year. I think we should either remove it or say that it could have caused it. Anyway a 1% drop isn't that big; it happens all the time.--Fire 55 (talk) 23:03, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

It's what the sources say - the same thing happened after the last nuclear test. And the drop came immediately after the announcement of the test. It was a 4% drop, btw. Bsimmons666 (talk) 00:25, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

I'm talking about the dollar.--Fire 55 (talk) 02:36, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Chinese response[edit]

Do we have any sources indicating what a departure from usual it is for the Chinese government to so strongly condemn DPRK's "internal affairs"? This warrants a brief mention if we can find a source. (talk) 07:24, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

South Korean Response[edit]

According to this source, South Korea has agreed to the Proliferation Security Initiative, a move which the North has cautioned against for years. Would someone add this to the main article? I'm new to Wikipedia and unsure as to what sort of information is relevant. Marksspite2 (talk) 07:37, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

I did it myself. Shoot me down if it somehow doesn't follow Wikipedia standards. Marksspite2 (talk) 01:50, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Another hoax?[edit]

The tone of this article makes it sound like there's no doubt this was a nuclear explosion, but 4.5kt sure sounds like another hoax to me. Perhaps they used reactor grade plutonium. At any rate, its nothing like Hiroshima. The Russians came out with a sensational blast number earlier on, which was then disproven -- that's 2006 all over again. The 2006 blast turned out to be less than 1kt, which is a couple of freight cars worth of ammonium nitrate. Fool me once, and all that. Kauffner (talk) 10:31, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

The 2006 blast also released fission products detected by a WC-135 Constant Phoenix sent specifically to determine whether it was a nuclear test or a conventional blast intended as a hoax. Since these particular fission products aren't produced in collectible quantities except in a nuclear detonation, it's pretty clear that the 2006 test was a nuclear weapon--a fizzle, but still a nuke. Once you have a weapon that functions even partially, it's honestly easier to just redesign it and get a full-yield test instead of pulling a Minor Scale blast as a hoax. It'll be a few days before the WC-135 can run sampling missions for this test, but I expect we'll get confirmation that it was nuclear by the end of the week.
As a side note, while massive conventional explosives can be used to simulate low-yield nukes for blast-loading purposes (witness the 100 Ton Test and the aforementioned Minor Scale), they have visibly different seismic signatures from nuclear detonations; whereas nukes release all their energy in a single massive pulse, the (relatively) slow burn time of even the fastest conventional explosives means that such a large blast of ANFO or TNT will ramp up to a peak level, stay there for a noticeable period of time, then tail off. It's not easy to see, but the USGS got very good at telling the difference after the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty went into effect, since seismic monitoring was, post-LTBT, pretty much the only way to keep track of nuclear testing. rdfox 76 (talk) 13:25, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Just throw the fissile products down the shaft. Why would that be hard to do? They didn't announce what the fissile products were, so there is no way to judge independently. The detection methods the U.S. has are geared toward the idea that someone might be disguising a nuclear blast. Someone pretending they have a nuke when they really don't isn't an issue we have any experience with. Of course this blast is the same concept as 2006. But if this the "full yield" version, it just means that in 2006 there a lot of ANFO in the shaft that didn't explode right. We are talking 0.8 kilotons. The blast at the PEPCON disaster in 1988 was bigger than that. Kauffner (talk) 14:27, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Now they are giving the blast wave 4.52.[4] That corresponds to 2.4 kilotons of TNT. An anonymous U.S. military source says 1.5kt. This is isn't even all that big as ANFO blasts go, never mind nuclear. Kauffner (talk) 16:33, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

It was a nuclear test. Specialists have confirmed it - if somebody wants to think it was a hoax, let it be so. You can't just "throw the fissile products down the shaft", because some of them are extremely hard to produce artificially. One such product of a nuclear blast is Xenon-133, which has a half-life of just 5 days. Given the unusually large depth (5 kilometers) and small yield (5-10, less likely more kilotonnes), it is completely possible that these isotopes will be containted under the surface. The 2006 test also occurred on a depth of 2,000 meters, and the radioactive isotopes were detected 4 days after it occurred. And it's totally incorrect to estimate the blast yield by formulae - no serious nuclear physicist, engineer or geologist would do it. For certain it was not 1,2 or 3 kilotons, but more. Besides, the magnitude is 4.5 / 4.7 given by US sources, other sources may claim higher yields (Japan, a lot closer to the test site, claimed 5.3). No seismic reports have came from China, which may also indicate a higher quake magnitude. One more thing is that quake magnitude is not rising in a linear proportion to the yield. Nuclear testing is a complicated matter and it cannot be treated as some 5th grade math problem. - Biohazard orange.svg Tourbillon A ? 18:17, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

You're assuming my math is at 5th grade level, so I don't know how to do logarithms? You obviously can't do the math yourself or you would have your own number. Kauffner (talk) 03:16, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Seismic reports have come from China - their seismographs are on the internet the same as everyone elses are these days. I don't know that they've released an official yield or magnitude estimate from their equivalent of USGS - but that's a different question 8-) Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 03:01, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Anyway it seems like it'd be a tougher job to hoax it reliably than just set off something small. We know they have plutonium. We know they've had a weapons program for some years. They should be able to hit 4kt without too much difficulty. I would put more stock in their being able to set off a small nuclear explosion than being able to engineer a convincing nuclear fake. -- (talk) 16:19, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
If it is nuclear, it is more difficult to make a small blast than a 12-20kt blast. It therefore hard to understand why the blast would be so small. The best estimate now is 2kt, which would be a really small nuke. Do have any idea how much the Manhattan Project cost? A whole lot more than blowing up a gigantic pile of ANFO, that's for sure. Ammonium nitrate is really cheap stuff, and it has created huge explosions just by accident more than once. Kauffner (talk) 16:36, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
The Manhattan Project is not a good comparison. 2009 is pretty different than 1942 in terms of the technology, difficulty, etc., not to mention that the Manhattan Project was purposefully wasteful in its spending (trying everything at once for the purpose of maximum speed and in the face of maximum uncertainty). Anyway, this is well into OR territory here: you don't have any evidence whatsoever.-- (talk) 18:14, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

It does not cost more to have a small one to a big one within limits we are talking about. In theory??? we should e able to tell the difference at this range between chemical and nuclear.

Reargun (talk) 17:22, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Hungary's opinion[edit]

Please write about Hungary's opinion. The source is here. --Ksanyi (talk) 12:59, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

...that statement is about the 5 July 2006 missile tests, not about the 25 May 2009 nuclear test. rdfox 76 (talk) 13:27, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Depth of the test?[edit]

The article currently claims the test was carried out 6km deep into the Earth's crust, however the article on Voronya_Cave states that the deepest people have gone into the crust is just over 2km, with the Scientific drilling article reporting deeper penetrations by drilling of cores, but it is not clear how nuclear device could be delivered to a depth of 6km and detonated. Either the 6km claim is erroneous, other the other wiki articles are...--feline1 (talk) 13:29, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Nuclear tests and people at a certain depth under the surface are two totally different things. Usually the oil wells go down to some 5-6 kilometers. It's hard do drill in a depth of more than 3 kilometers, but technologically it's not impossible. Lowering a small nuclear device isn't a problem either. The USSR has conducted tests at a depth of some 3-4 kilometers. - Biohazard orange.svg Tourbillon A ? 18:00, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
I find it somewhat implausible that North Korea could manage to drill 3km deeper than the USSR at the height of its powers, and get a nuclear device down there. The article would be better if it could substantiate such claims.--feline1 (talk) 21:08, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
The deepest anyone has drilled is 12km, a depth reached by the Russians in Kola in 1994.[5] All the same, I think its safe to assume anything NK says is a lie. Kauffner (talk) 01:36, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
The Kola bore was a project running for a couple of decades, was it not? And using special technology to manage it. NK is hardly going to be able to achieve a similar feat in an afternoon.--feline1 (talk) 11:26, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
The article on Voronya Cave doesn't say anything about how deep people have gone into the Earth's crust; it only stats that 2km is the record in a cave - presumably because that's the deepest known cave. People can go a lot deeper - see e.g. the TauTona mine, 3.9km deep. --GenericBob (talk) 01:29, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
It now seems to say 5km, but I agree with your point -- that just seems plain unbelievable to me. The source is an Australian journalist, and that article doesn't cite any other sources. If it were up to me I'd remove any reference to the depth, unless someone can find a reputable source -- that Australian article doesn't cut it, when the claim is so novel. BTW oil wells are drilled to a specific diameter, and I think the largest diameter casing available is 36 inches OD, which is larger than any I've heard of actually in use [[6]]. It seems completely impossible that DPRK could drill and case such a huge hole without being noticed.--JakartaDean (talk) 06:39, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
Removed. Bsimmons666 (talk) 17:45, 4 July 2009 (UTC)

Preparations have been done many days before the test itself, officials have confirmed that. After the 2006 test military activity similar to a preparation for a second test was detected on satellite, so who knows, they may have even started drilling it back then. North Korea's industry is advanced enough to make a bore of such a depth, and the seismic activity hypocenter has been confirmed to be about 5 kilometers below the surface, so this discussion is closed. - Biohazard orange.svg Tourbillon A ? 11:50, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

If you consider speculation & handwaving to be encyclopaedic, then yes, I agree /rollseyes/ --feline1 (talk) 18:12, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Split section?[edit]

Should we split the international reaction section off into a separate article, like was done for the 2006 North Korean nuclear test article? If we don't do it now, I'm sure we're going to have to do it later. Bsimmons666 (talk) 22:39, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

When I cleared this as a GA, I noted that it would likely be a needed step for this to become an FA. I, however, will not do it. Nezzadar (talk) 22:52, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Mine site?[edit]

Could someone expound on the claim above that this bomb was set off in an old anthracite mine? For example,

  • Google indexes an interesting sentence ("North Korea","anthracite") from a PDF, "In order to attract Chinese investors, North Korea has created investment projects in 38 different areas. The most highly promoted of these include mining..." But I get 24kb of a "secured PDF" that is encrypted.[7] I'm not sure how Google decoded it, but can someone crack it and see what it says? Is this one of those promoted projects?
  • Anthracite mines remind me of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Any chance that this site will turn into something like that, only radioactive? ;) Wnt (talk) 02:15, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

kilotonne v. kiloton[edit]

Silly to have this dispute in this article, but can I point out that even the BBC uses "kiloton" rather than "kilotonne" when referring to TNT equivalent? [8]-- (talk) 16:12, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

You'll see BBC is not consistent about the choice of tonne or ton if you google it. So is The Times. But as long as this article attains consistency, the choice is not a problem.Kxx (talk) 03:53, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Honestly, it doesn't make any real difference--the difference between a tonne and a ton is less than the range of variation in the energy content of different mixes of TNT, so honestly, there's no reason to discuss whether it should be spelled like the metric unit, or the English unit... rdfox 76 (talk) 12:16, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Seismic Chart?[edit]

Do we have a chart from any of the seismographs that have recorded the event? I have read some papers about interpreting above ground seismic results. I am sure there are some declassified below ground reports we could reference. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:59, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

There are some that I have seen but they are all copyrighted. The USGS has some but of course their system is impossible to use as far as I can tell. -- (talk) 15:26, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

conclusion of Korean War armistice[edit]

Refer to U.S. and South Korea raise military alert on North - Yahoo!7 News - apparently they are threatening to end the armistice. -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email guestbook complaints 12:44, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea and the United States raised the military alert level for the peninsula on Thursday after the communist North warned the truce ending the Korean War was dead and it was ready to attack.

North Korea ramped up tensions this week with a series of provocations rarely seen since the 1950-53 Korean War, including war threats, missile launches and a nuclear test that puts it closer to having an atomic bomb.

-- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email guestbook complaints 12:45, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Same old, same old, I think. NK announced the end of the armistice in 2003 and on other occasions as well. Kauffner (talk) 15:01, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Poor Grammar[edit]

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists asserts that the blast was more powerful than the 2006 test, but puts the yield between 2 to 6 kilotons, far short of an Hiroshima-type device.

This is grammatically incorrect. It should be "of a"... instead of "of an".

Oddly enough, both work with a Japanese word beginning with Hi because the sound he "he" with a soft e "ehh." Therefore when written in English, the silent H rule appleis. Of course, "of a" is generally a better option though. Nezzadar (talk) 22:26, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Uranium or Plutonium bomb ?[edit]

In the article nothing is said about what type of fission bomb it might have been. (talk) 20:27, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

If we knew, it would have already been there, wouldn't it? -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email guestbook complaints 14:36, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

[9] If you want to dissect this, feel free to write it in. Bsimmons666 (talk) 21:27, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Not a particularly reliable source. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 22:29, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Likely plutonium, only because we know they have plutonium resources and that their uranium enrichment program seems to have not made as much progress. But that's not much of a guess (and easy to get wrong—like the CIA did regarding China's first bomb). -- (talk) 22:53, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
which isotopes of Pu and Ur, do you mean cause both are needed either to sustain fission, or they are just produced during fission on a case by case basis-- (talk) 23:24, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
yes it most likely is plutonium....-- (talk) 23:30, 1 June 2009 (UTC)


Wired - Danger Room can this be considered a source it is highly likely that the US air force has already attempted flyovers of the nuclear test site however the are no other media mentioning this except the KCNA and Wired magazine.-- (talk) 17:22, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

We don't judge the content, only the reliability of it's source. is the website for a legitimate technology magazine. The magazine, unlike such industry greats as People and The National Inquirer, acutally follows the established rules of integrity for journalism. As for the content, Wired was likely speculating on the US air force having the ability to fly planes over North Korea undetected. Between these two things, I would say yes, Wired is a legitimate source. Nezzadar (talk) 22:56, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

More links to news sources.[edit]

Thanks, -- (talk) 00:14, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

Country response[edit]

The response of the Vatican City is listed, although this is better described as that of the Holy See. Would this count as an "international organisation"? (talk) 00:19, 18 September 2010 (UTC) Yeah, I've moved it. LukeSurl t c 09:48, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

A note on naming: "Sea of Japan" or "East Sea of Korea"[edit]

Please see WP:NC-SoJ -Arch dude (talk) 00:16, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Uncertainty in yield estimates[edit]

Due to recent edits, the article now reads as though a single estimate in a published scientific article is the definitive yield value of 2.35 kilotons. This is far too precise a figure to be definitive, as there are numerous sources of uncertainty, including the measurement uncertainty in the seismic magnitude, uncertainty about the depth of the explosion, and local geological factors. Other sources cited in the article give different estimates. I'm not an expert on yield estimates, but some correction is needed. NPguy (talk) 16:03, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

The estimate you are referring to was published in a peer reviewed paper that focused on this blast specifically. It is easily the most scientific estimate that has been made. Kauffner (talk) 08:45, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
See my response here. NPguy (talk) 03:24, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

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