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Experts Warn Of Possible North Korean Nuclear Test 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
After the recent failure of North Korea's rocket launch test, experts are warning that the country's leadership will likely try to save face by following it up with a nuclear weapons test. According to CBS, "The rocket launch had been hailed as a moment of national pride, but it disintegrated over the Yellow Sea, earning it embarrassment as well as condemnation from a host of nations that deemed it a covert test of missile technology. In a rare move for Pyongyang, the government admitted that the rocket did not deliver a satellite, but it also pressed ahead with grandiose propaganda in praise of the ruling Kim family." The Guardian adds, "Speculation is mounting that the North will attempt to claw back some of its credibility with a third nuclear test. Recent satellite images from the site used for previous nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 suggested plans for another underground explosion were already in place before the Unha-3 rocket broke apart and splashed into the Yellow Sea on Friday morning."
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Experts Warn Of Possible North Korean Nuclear Test

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  • by na1led (1030470) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:06PM (#39674649)
    I bet a satellites in space shot this rocket down, using some form of laser. The technology has been around since the 80's, so why not?
    • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:10PM (#39674733)
      The star wars project was actually a success.  It was only deemed a failure, as to keep our enemies off guard.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:18PM (#39674889)

        The tt tag was actually a success. It was only deemed a failure, because people thought it was supposed to be readable.

      • by DarthVain (724186)

        Exactly, it is only the development that destabilizes power, once it has "failed" it is no longer a threat!

      • The star wars project was actually a success. It was only deemed a failure, as to keep our enemies off guard.

        Exactly the same thing with the North Korean rocket launch. Let the world laugh while the Great North Korean intergalactic spaceship is nearing completion.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        It was a succesful bluff, and played a major part in ending the Cold War.

    • by MoonFog (586818)
      Given the Norths history of failing to actually get crap off the ground I dont really think a laser to shoot it down would be necessary. Besides, dont you think the NK rulers would be all over a story where someone shot down their missile?
      • by na1led (1030470)
        There is no way they would know if their rocket was shot down by a laser. It's also a good way to test the technology on someone who doesn't really mater anyways.
      • You're right. I myself was wondering...have they ever actually had a successful launch of anything ever? Does anyone know?
        • The beloved leader's golf balls always hit the hole.

        • Even thier previous nuke tests had problems. The first one failed completely and the second one did not produce the expected results common to a nuclear detonation. They could have used tons of dynamite mixed with radioactive elements to give the impression that they actually detonated a nuke.

          And even if they do have a nuclear weapon they certainly don't have a delivery system unless they want to carry it or use a bomber which would just end up being great target practice for all the various air defense sy

    • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:12PM (#39674773)

      The technology has been around since the 80's, so why not?

      Why waste the power and confirm that you have the ability to do so on a target that you already knew was going to be crap and fall apart or otherwise not make orbit? IN any case, Japan actually did announce beforehand that they were seriously considering shooting down the rocket/missile if it passed over Japanese territory. And, from what I understand, the other 2 previous launches by North Korea were always followed by a nuclear test ( I remember reading this, but I honestly do not remember where).

      • by na1led (1030470)
        My guess, is that North Korea will never be successful launching a big rocket, as it will mysteriously explode for no reason. Usually when something goes wrong, the rocket will veer off course, or you will see something brake apart before it explodes.
      • by formfeed (703859)

        And, from what I understand, the other 2 previous launches by North Korea were always followed by a nuclear test

        If you are into spelunking I would avoid freshly dug out caves in North Korea.

    • by mblase (200735)

      Considering the cult of ignorance North Korea has maintained among its own people for decades, this is probably exactly what the locals believe.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cusco (717999)
      For this thing to fail was the **LAST** thing either Brainwashington or the Pentagram wanted. Even Americans are starting to notice that the US spends far more on its military than the entire rest of the world combined, and if they can't point at even ONE remotely-viable threat on the entire planet it's going to be increasingly difficult to justify the annual military budget increase. Already some budget items are getting moved off the books into the Black Budget, and I don't see the trend decreasing any
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why is there a flurry of general interest news on a technical news web site? N. Korea nuke tests, Treyvon Martin shooting, Rick Santorum articles. Can we get back to posting articles about technical issues, please? We can get general interest news anywhere. News and discussion about technical items and open source software and hardware is harder to come by, which is why I come here. It's what makes Slashdot appealing. If you take that away then you take away the reason to come here over, say, NPR [npr.org]'s web site

    • by GodInHell (258915) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:13PM (#39674801) Homepage
      *cough* "News for nerds, stuff that matters.

      That includes more than just the latest in gadgetry. Also -- Rockets and Nuclear bombs -- how is this not tech related?

      -GiH
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Look how many comments on the Trayvon articles. It's about getting page hits - which is about beating the living fuck out of the latest trendy horse, even if it's long since dead.

      It's a business which is about page hits and ad revenues, no more a forum for nerds and tech-folk - though it used to attract many of them.

      Lately the comments are approaching the wit and insight of typical youtube or foxnews comments, though. It's attracted more traffic, but driven away many of the worthwhile users.

      Like any other

    • Nukes, rockets and satellites aren't technical to you ?

  • orly? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Idimmu Xul (204345) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:11PM (#39674737) Homepage Journal

    We'd better invade then, just in case.

    • by GodInHell (258915)
      We're still at war. This can be done without congressional action. Make it so!
      • by mug funky (910186)

        no resources... why bother? save their starving people? security for US allies in the region? naaah.

        also it'd piss China off to no end.

      • by formfeed (703859)

        We're still at war. This can be done without congressional action. Make it so!

        It was a police action.

  • Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:11PM (#39674745)

    Really at this stage its gone well beyond a joke. I have friends in Japan who were quite worried about this, to say nothing of the sheer evil of the regime itself. Maybe its time to bite the bullet and just cut off food aid to North Korea so they are forced to reduce the size of their army and actually feed their own people? Or would Kim go for a full on invasion of the South in reality?

    • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Informative)

      by ATestR (1060586) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:17PM (#39674867) Homepage

      forced to reduce the size of their army and actually feed their own people

      Don't think that it would have this effect... NK has been generally starving the people for decades in favor of military might.

      • by dunezone (899268)

        Don't think that it would have this effect... NK has been generally starving the people for decades in favor of military might.

        More then likely the food that is given to them goes directly to the military. If you cut off the food then the military starves as well as the people. Depending on how loyal the military is, once people with weapons start to starve crazy things can happen. Its one thing to be dealing with an angry person, its a whole another level when they're angry and hungry.

        • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

          by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday April 13, 2012 @02:58PM (#39677737) Journal

          Keep in mind that you're talking about the country with universal conscription that can last up to 10 years - about 20% of the entire adult male population is in the military. Every male citizen would have served there, and most would have kids serving. So there's no clear dividing boundary between army and civilians.

      • by manaway (53637) *
        NK is not alone in funding a military industrial complex instead of providing people with the basics of a good life .
    • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Nidi62 (1525137) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:19PM (#39674925)

      Maybe its time to bite the bullet and just cut off food aid to North Korea so they are forced to reduce the size of their army and actually feed their own people? Or would Kim go for a full on invasion of the South in reality?

      He would probably just let his people die. The problem is, if we did cut off the food aid to North Korea, the government would use that as an internal propaganda tool by saying we were trying to kill off everyone, or something. The sad thing is that most North Koreans would probably believe it, because they have been isolated and indoctrinated for so long. North Korea is really like the old lady with all the cats that lives a few doors down from you. She's crazy as hell, but basically harmless. On top of that, no sane, rational person would want the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocent people from starvation (and if you read stories, most of them are on the brink of starvation already) on their conscience. It really is sad when governments hold their own people as hostages just so they can stay in power.

      • by poity (465672)

        She's crazy as hell, but basically harmless.

        Well, not if you care about cats. Or if you are a cat.

        • by Nidi62 (1525137)

          She's crazy as hell, but basically harmless.

          Well, not if you care about cats. Or if you are a cat.

          Good thing neither of those apply to me :)

      • harmless

        How is 1 - 3.5 million dead from starvation harmless? Here's [wikipedia.org] what happens when you starve to death.
        • by Nidi62 (1525137)
          Notice I already talked about how North Korean citizens are on the verge of starvation? When I said harmless I was obviously talking in an international sense. The only think outside the borders of North Korea that they can legitimately threaten is the global level of cognac purchases. And even that has probably gone down now that Kim Jong Il is dead. Reading comprehension, dude. It's important.
      • by Hentes (2461350)

        North Korea is really like the old lady that lives a few doors down from you with all the cats AND A NUCLEAR ROCKET.

        FTFY

    • by MiniMike (234881)

      They would probably just increase their already massive weapons export business [bloomberg.com] to compensate. Maybe we ought to be paying attention to stopping that. They have also allegedly been caught selling donated food, but I can't find a link to that on a legitimate website. If anything maybe we should increase the food donations to a level that embarrasses the North Korean govt. Like saying "We can afford to feed your entire mismanaged starving country from our extras, in your face (literally and figuratively)"

    • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DrgnDancer (137700) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:54PM (#39675621) Homepage

      CNN had a fairly coherent opinion piece on the question of why no one wants to piss of North Korea any further despite obvious provocation (this rocket launch isn't the first, nor even the worst provocation they've performed). Basically the guy's point boiled down to a three tier deterrent used by North Korea's government to make them immune from serious attack:

      1) They're fricken nuts. No one knows exactly how nuts they are, and no one particularly wants to find out. Even by the standards of repressive totalitarian regimes, the North Koreans are in a class by themselves. Most of South Korea, and all of Seoul is in range of North Korean artillery. It's widely accepted that unless China were willing to engage in open war in support of the North (unlikely), they'd be pounded into dog meat in short order by combined US, South Korean, and (probably) Japanese troops. That won't stop them from shelling Seoul, possibly with chemical weapons, and maybe hitting Tokyo with some medium range missiles before they go down. They're willing to let their own people starve to death in mass numbers to keep themselves in power, they sure aren't going to be concerned about "enemy" civilians.

      2) No one wants to deal with the repercussions. Assuming we (for a value of "we" intended to mean the US and some portion of our Asian allies) go in, wipe the floor with the North Korean Army, and they don't manage to do to terribly much damage to Seoul in the process... then we have North Korea? Yay? The country is more or less without any infrastructure. A good portion of the population is starving. They're mostly brainwashed. The only thing that's had any resources at all dedicated to it in the last 50 years is the military we just presumably smashed... The quagmire's in Iraq and Afghanistan will seem like positive fun times in comparison. As the author put is (I'm paraphrasing), "You're looking at a generation worth of South Korean time and treasure just to get the place to where it could be functional". Nobody wants to deal with that.

      3) They have nukes. See also (1) & (2). No one knows if they're crazy enough to use the nukes as a last ditch "take the world down with us" strategy, and no one has any idea how many there are or where. When the inevitable chaos of (2) starts, any nukes not flung at Seoul as a last spit in the eye have a high potential to become rogue. Not a pretty picture.

      I can't seem to find the article now, which is a bit annoying, but it seems to be pretty well thought out. The typical reason for doing nothing about North Korea is China, but honestly at this point I don't think even the Chinese really like them. They'd just rather have a broke and desperate North on their border than a unified and strong Korea.

      • by HBI (604924)

        Despite the lack of link, this is congruent with all discussions about the matter i've ever had. No one wants to deal with the mess. That's why the NKs get away with what they do. The problem is when you think longer term, the idea that the regime won't last is wishful thinking, and their capabilities just keep getting larger in the WMD sphere. Doing something about them later is going to be even more painful than doing it now.

      • by sosume (680416)

        My hope is that China, which is modernizing rapidly, will soon come to the conclusion that supporting the regime in Pyongyang harms China's global image. When that day comes, this will all be over quickly and without much bloodshed. Perhaps they can offer exile to the current leaders.

        • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Nidi62 (1525137) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:42PM (#39676529)
          I doubt China would ever do that. Consider this analogy: think of the international community as a night club, and China is going in there looking to get picked up by someone. Now, China isn't the best looking person out there, but China is ok. So they bring along North Korea, their ugly friend. Suddenly China looks a lot better, and is much more easily accepted by everyone there. Now, to break the analogy, as long as North Korea stays, well, North Korea, China has someone they can always point to and be like "hey, look, we're not as bad as them" as well as always have a way to garner some good will; "hey, we just sent them a whole bunch of food and medical supplies, see how nice we are?"
        • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Interesting)

          by hedley (8715) <hedley@pacbell.net> on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:18PM (#39677961) Journal

          I was chatting with a mainland Chinese fellow the other day and he said that China keeps them as a friend because they piss of the US. That is useful to China. So, as long as China keeps DPRK's actions to their palatable threshold, China is OK with it. Esp, if the US is unhappy.

      • by Chibi (232518)
        For those who do not know, Seoul and Pyongyang are actually quite close to each other. They are 120.90 miles/194.56 Kilometers apart. If a major war were to ever happen, the damage to Seoul would be pretty staggering.
      • by jafac (1449)

        So, the alternative, is waiting until they get nukes, and then REALLY being forced to deal with them. Sounds like a great plan.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        1) They're fricken nuts.

        Not really. They have a cult of personality, but it is only maintained by internal politics and not any kind of genuine brainwashing at the upper levels. That is why the current Kim is having to consolidate his power somewhat - it isn't completely automatic.

        Plus NK is not gripped by religious fundamentalism. Suicide in the name of God and an afterlife filled with virgin pussy isn't their motivation. They won't start WW3 because the leaderships knows they will all die.

        2) No one wants to deal with the repercussions.

        South Korea has shown itself to be willi

      • by dbIII (701233)

        but honestly at this point I don't think even the Chinese really like them

        They don't. The Chinese were blamed for a failed coup in North Korea some decades back which led to the border being almost completely closed since. There is a huge North Korean refugee population in China. The situation appears to be that North Korea just hate China a little bit less than everyone else and that China will trade with anybody (especially since they sell oil to North Korea at a huge markup).
        China doesn't want million

    • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Funny)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Friday April 13, 2012 @01:16PM (#39676089) Journal

      Really at this stage its gone well beyond a joke.

      It was never a joke. Many people have died. It's dead serious.

      Which isn't to say we can't laugh about it. Though any joke I can think of will fall as flat as a North Korean rocket.

  • Why test in the backyard? Even if it involves a risk (www.google.com/search?q=underground+test+nuclear+risk+assessment)?

    I guess that given that NK is a small country I can understand their willingness to do it in the backyard and that they have come to the conclusion it must be a fairly low risk.

    But, still? What if they screw up like they did with their rocket?

    • They don't need to be concerned with their backyard. They're doing this right at the border during dust season. This basically comstitutes a major attack on South Korea and Japan.
  • Any chance we could locate and recover anything? I think the capsule would be of particular interest...
    • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:32PM (#39675155)

      How so? It's not like there would be anything new to learn. More than likely, the capsule was a poorly designed, cobbled together collection of components, with most of the designs stolen imperfectly from russian and chinese sources. Maybe U.S. sources.

      The point is, a great artist isn't going to learn anything by going to a kindergarden art class and watching 6 year olds scribble with crayons. Nor are the engineers at Lockheed Martin likely to learn much, either.

      As for the purpose of the capsule : obviously it's intended to deliver a nuclear bomb. Again, nothing new there. Obviously once the North Koreans have such a capability, they won't have to worry about being invaded.

      • by kimgkimg (957949)
        Well really to see if there was in fact a functioning "satellite" loaded.
      • by Spykk (823586)

        The point is, a great artist isn't going to learn anything by going to a kindergarden art class and watching 6 year olds scribble with crayons.

        Well, unless you count modern art.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday April 13, 2012 @12:17PM (#39674871)
    I found that to be bigger news then the actual failure.

    I could interpret this action that North Korea want to get out of its cycle, but it needs to slowly get its citizens to think for themselves. By having the government admit that they could fail, can spark the idea to the public that they don't have to blindly trust the government. 
  • bad enough they play rocketeer before they have worked out their controls. we know they've been setting up for another nuke fizzle with assets watching them mess about their underground test site for months.

    to jump boldly ahead with another fizzle ahead of schedule to try and save face... well, shall we say, unpredictable results shall ensue. this time they might have an explosion before they get the bomb out of the handcart.

  • would be for the US to actually go ahead and give them the food aid they threatened to withhold if NK launched a satellite
  • At least they don't have rocket scientists any more. I doubt any of them survived the rocket explosion by more than an hour.

  • If they are doing stuff to stick their middle finger up at the world and feel great I'd do an above the ground test. It's FAR more impressive.

    yes..radiation, destruction, etc are are a problem. But just sayin if you are going for something to be impressive the above ground test is better than watching a massive sinkhole get made in a moments notice.

  • by subreality (157447) on Friday April 13, 2012 @02:02PM (#39676853)

    attempt to claw back some of its credibility with a third nuclear test

    Perhaps domestically, but internationally they can claw back some credibility by not having a third nuclear test.

    The ball's in your court, Jong-un. Your father burned all his credibility, but you have an excellent opportunity. Don't waste it trying to show off.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      They don't want to be considered credible they want to instill fear for their extortions to work.

  • Yeah, that's smart. After you fail on a well tought rocket test, you simply rush a nuclear test so that people will forget the first one. Bonus point if all your well tought nuclear tests also failed up to now. Don't worry, this time things will work out ok, there is no pression or anything.

    Ok, I can belive they are planning that. If their leader have a bad idea, it will come through execution anyway... But it isn't an automatic thing like the summary implies.

  • Sure on paper it sounds like all you need to do is take a late 1950's early 1960's edition Chinese CSS-2 Scud variant and bolt a second stage made out of another Scud-C on top of that and then build another rocket, a smaller one, using a Chinese SRB and bolt that atop your ghetto rigged second stage. But in practice getting all that stuff to work right in your poor broken down slave society driven by terror is a lot harder.

  • ...nuke to lob at someone. Seriously, this is why nuclear technician isn't up there with brain surgeon and rocket scientist.
  • they don't have oil. :)
  • We test nuclear weapons ON North Korea!
  • There's joking talk on the comments today of the laser missile shield taking this down. Joking aside, as a technical question: assuming they could/did shoot at the missile, I'm curious - is there a signature people would be able to detect a laser with?

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