Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

North Korea Says they Tested a Small H-Bomb

There is some reason to be skeptical, but they apparently did something to jiggle the old seismograph. This is just the sort of thing that happens when North Korea doesn't feel appreciated for a minute, but it helps to recall that bad nonproliferation policy has its consequences.

1 comment:

mikey said...

Working on my own post about this, but here's the gist.

Who cares if it's a fission bomb or a Teller-Ulam device?

Sure, you can get a higher yield from a two stage weapon, but you can do that with boosted fission devices too.

The main reason to build a 'hydrogen bomb' is that they are much more efficient - you can use far less fissile material to achieve your yield goal, usually about 250kt. Result? Smaller devices for missile warheads and more bombs with the same fissile material stockpile.

The downside is a much increased complexity and a higher likelihood of device failure. Israel, for example, has never even considered building two stage bombs. They use a good old tried and true boosted fission design, and have plenty of reliable warheads without more R&D.

In the end, on the Korean Peninsula, it's all about Seoul. The South Korean capital is only 25 kilometers from the border, and the North can deliver an atomic bomb or two with trucks or even transport aircraft. And if that fails, they can still kill a million people with conventional artillery. That's why their having nuclear weapons matters, even if they can't deliver them any farther, and why it doesn't matter if they are old-fashioned fission bombs or Teller-Ulam devices.

BTW, here's my piece on Teller-Ulam design, if you are interested: