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Mushroom Cloud Reported Over North Korea 2001

Posted by timothy
from the hot-button-issue dept.
cbrocious writes "Yahoo! News is reporting a mushroom cloud over North Korea that occured on Thursday in Yanggang province near the border with China. 'The explosion in Kim Hyong Jik county blasted a crater big enough to be noticed by a satellite, the source said.'"
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Mushroom Cloud Reported Over North Korea

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  • by thewldisntenuff (778302) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:29AM (#10224839) Homepage
    "there was no immediate indication that Thursday's reported explosion was linked to Pyongyang's efforts to develop nuclear weapons."

    What was it then? Car crash? Natural gas explosion? Hmm..."no immediate indication." Bah!

    I'm actually kind of surprised it took this long to hit the wires though....I mean, shouldn't we have picked it up and there been at least, a news report? Or some sort of acknowledgement of the situation by those in power........

    I bet most of the Pacific Rim's probably up in arms over this-Especially the Chinese, TFA states it hit somewhere close to the China-North Korean border..... You'd think with something like that, either the Chinese would strike or raise hell along the diplomatic channels.....

    Reminds me of those WWII era Civil Defense movies I saw once in a history class...You
    know, the one with the turtle...

    "Ok kids, what do we do when the bomb hits?"

    "DUCK! AND COVER!"

    -thewldisntenuff
    • by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:36AM (#10224891)
      "there was no immediate indication that Thursday's reported explosion was linked to Pyongyang's efforts to develop nuclear weapons."

      What was it then? Car crash? Natural gas explosion? Hmm..."no immediate indication." Bah!
      Just about any big explosion will create a mushroom cloud; I saw one from a tank car explosion one time.

      However, the reported 2+ mile diameter of the cloud is troubling. Surely radiation detectors will sort it out within a day or two.

      • by incom (570967) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:54AM (#10225052)
        Maybe they staged it. A large ordinance detonation used to make the world fear their nuclear power.
        • Online seismometers (Score:5, Informative)

          by uberdave (526529) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:03AM (#10225139) Homepage
          Are there any online seismometers that show this blast. A nuclear explosion would show one big spike, but large ordnance would show a series of smaller spikes.
          • by isolation (15058) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:22AM (#10225296) Homepage
            Yes.....
            Look at the data marked 3 days ago and compare it to the others. There is a spike.

            http://www.physics.hmc.edu/research/geo/seismo.h tm l#days
          • by jarrettwold2002 (601633) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:44AM (#10225454)
            Just from a quick google it appears a 1 kiloton or less ground detonation would not be detectable by our current 'public' seismometers. In addition, this would be a realistic and practical test for North Korea. It would use very little weapons material, and would be plausible to deny as a munitions or general explosion.

            Hopefully NRO has at least one sat. in geosynch over the area. Once your out from the event unless you're sending UN or spec ops in, you're not getting any valid information other than a picture of a big ass crater.

            However, if there is a hydrophone network over there, that might very well have picked it up.
        • by stinky wizzleteats (552063) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:12AM (#10225216) Homepage Journal
          A large ordinance detonation used to make the world fear their nuclear power.

          Not likely. If it was a real nuke, our sats would have picked up the gamma burst and we would have picked up the distinctive seismic signature. Those in power know as of right now whether or not it was a nuke, the question is - what will they tell us?
          • by k98sven (324383) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @02:30AM (#10225756) Journal
            the question is - what will they tell us?

            The truth. There is more than one government in the world, and they can't seem to agree on any single thing. How could they keep a secret among themselves?

            Besides that, there are plenty of civilian radiation detectors out there. A guy I know who worked at the Forsmark nuclear plant in Sweden told me that back in 1986, they found out about the Chernobyl accident way before anyone in the Swedish government. (And quite some time before the Soviet authorities admitted anything had happened)

            Although they did have a few worried hours trying to figure out where the radiation was coming from, before they realized that it actually had come from outside the plant. The isotope composition told them pretty quickly that it was a reactor failure, and not a bomb. Calculating backwards from the prevailing winds then gave them a pretty good guess of which reactor it was.

            • by RayBender (525745) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @08:13AM (#10226951) Homepage
              A guy I know who worked at the Forsmark nuclear plant in Sweden told me that back in 1986, they found out about the Chernobyl accident way before anyone in the Swedish government.

              I've actually worked there, and I remember that day. Now I really wish I hadn't spent a good part of that day outside in the rain. For years afterward there was a bit of a "hotspot" just north of Stockholm where that rainstorm had washed a bunch of stuff out of the cloud and onto the ground.

              As for the possibility of civilians detecting a nuclear test - that depends on a lot of variables such as how the wind blows. Given the geography of the location, the cloud might go out over open ocean or over China, in which case you won't hear anything from civilians. Or it could blow over Japan, in which case some university scientists might notice something.

              Certainly the U.S. knows if it was a nuke thanks to our satellite systems; but the current regime may not wish to publicise such a failure of their anti-proliferation policy just before an election.

              In any case, I would have thought that the North Koreans would make an announcement if they had actually had a successful test. Why wouldn't they? I know they certainly trumpeted up their attempts at a space launch.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2004 @02:45AM (#10225835)
            Those in power know as of right now whether or not it was a nuke, the question is - what will they tell us?

            Well according to CNN [cnn.com] those in power have told us what it is, and I quote:
            The U.S. official said the cloud could be the result of a forest fire.
            Ya...right...forest fire...

            And they wonder why everyone thinks that the government is involved in so many conspiracies. A forest fire is going to create a mushroom cloud and a crater [yahoo.com]? A forest fire is going to create a seismic event [slashdot.org]? I so can't stand the lies anymore. I can't wait until November 2nd, and I can get rid of them!
      • by timeOday (582209) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:59AM (#10225103)
        Searching around, the NY Times [reuters.com] recently reported conflicting expert opinion in recent days over signs that the N Koreans were preparing to detonate a nuclear weapon, and what the implications would be.
        One senior intelligence official noted that preparations the North knew could be detected by the United States might be a scare or a negotiating tactic by North Korea, while other officials speculated a test could be intended to influence the U.S. presidential election in November.
        This is going to be an issue in the election starting now. Do we have any choice but to play ball with the N Koreans?
        • by Cryptnotic (154382) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:50AM (#10225498) Homepage
          Of course we have a choice:

          Would you like to play a game?
          >list games
          Ball
          Global Thermonuclear War
          >play Global Thermonuclear War
          How about a nice game of Ball?
          >No, I would like to play Global Thermonuclear War.
          Very well...

          Seriously though, of course we have a choice. We didn't cave in to the USSR, I don't expect us to give a cowtow to N. Korea. Seriously, expect a carrier battle group in the Sea of Japan ASAP if there isn't one there already. Expect half of the U.S. Navy including a dozen submarines loaded with 60 ICBM's each sitting off the coast of North Korea very soon. Oh, we'll be playing "ball" all right.

          • by Aadain2001 (684036) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @04:06AM (#10226250) Journal
            Ya, let's provoke a nation that is under the leadership of a crazy guy who probably wouldn't bat an eye at killing all this citizens by launching a nuke at a bunch of US carriers or at Seoul. When the crazy guy has a gun you don't point your gun at him and start yelling at him. You talk very nicely and don't make any sudden moves until you are sure you can get the gun away from him before he shots you, himself, or any of the innocent people who happen to be nearby. We can't use the same tactics against NK that we did with USSR; at least they weren't crazy. Power hungry and a little mean, but not crazy like the leader of NK.
            • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Sunday September 12, 2004 @06:48AM (#10226729) Homepage
              by launching a nuke at a bunch of US carriers or at Seoul.

              They don't have the technology to hit a ship, much less a battleship in the open sea. All they can do is blackmail us by threatening Japan and South Korea.

              We can keep waiting for them to build longer range missiles capable of hitting North America too (while we and others supply them with food and fuel) or tell South Korea and Japan to deploy a lot of Patriot missiles, pray to various deities and kick the crap out of North Korea.

              You talk very nicely and don't make any sudden moves until you are sure you can get the gun away from him before he shots you.

              Very good analogy -- while you "talk very nicely", you better have the snipers deployed around... The nuclear armed submarines suggested by the grandparent article are the "snipers"...

        • by Guppy06 (410832) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @02:49AM (#10225864)
          "One senior intelligence official noted that preparations the North knew could be detected by the United States might be a scare or a negotiating tactic by North Korea"

          Which means that the "ho-hum" we're publicly seeing might simply be Washington's response. "Oh, that was supposed to be your bomb? It was kinda hard to tell. See, we thought you guys were working on nuclear weapons over there, and... well, shucks, we've seen bigger conventional explosions."

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:07AM (#10225169)
      • by Mycroft_VIII (572950) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:24AM (#10225308) Journal
        Mushroom clouds are an artifact of big explosions, not just atomic/hydrogen bombs.
        One interesting ordinance is the fule-air explosive devices. Take two gases that are explosive when combined and ignigted and put them in two big tanks at a great presure then release it all at once and a split second later when the expaning mix covers a football field, but is still at very high (80+ atmospheres iirc) detonate them.
        When first developed generals and such warned that thier use might be mistaken for an neuclear weapons.
        If you've seen the movie outbreak the bomb they were going to drop to stop that plauge was a FAE munition.
        The tell tale in this case of course would be the gamma radation signature as well as other factors, by itself a mushroom cloud just means a very big bang.

        Mycroft

        Mycroft
    • by kfg (145172) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:39AM (#10224918)
      Reminds me of those WWII era Civil Defense movies I saw once in a history class...

      Yeah, I saw that one in school too. Then we all went into the cloak room, got our coats, then marched into the school basement to practice ducking and protecting ourselves by holding our coats over our heads.

      You weren't paying enough attention in class though, it wasn't a WWII era movie. It was. . .are you ready for it?

      A Korean Conflict era movie.

      KFG
    • by Read Icculus (606527) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:41AM (#10224939)
      What's China going to do? Those nukes aren't for protection against China I can tell you that... although they work for that too.

      No the ball is in our court now, and as they have nukes... well I'm not too sure what the move is. It just goes to show other nations (Iran), that stepping things up is probably the way to go if you don't want to be the next Iraq.
    • by tmasssey (546878) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:41AM (#10224941) Homepage Journal
      Nuclear blasts create a double pulse of light due to the physics of the blast itself. Read more here [fact-index.com].

      See? I *knew* that reading all 1800 pages of Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears would come in handy...

      I know, it was only 800 pages. It just *felt* like 18000... That book would have been much better as a 400 page book.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:29AM (#10224842)
    . . . they'll be more mushroom clouds over North Korea, and soon.

    ~~~

  • by Alcohol Fueled (603402) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:30AM (#10224848) Homepage
    Someone set us up the bomb!

  • by wardomon (213812) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:31AM (#10224857)
    all of our troups are in Iraq.
    • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:53AM (#10225044)
      Nowhere near "all of our troops" are in Iraq. We've got about 125,000 troops in Iraq. That includes Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, and significant numbers of National Guard troops.

      That's about two Canadian Armed Forces' worth of troops, but only a fraction of our total force strength.

      And here's a big, big question for everyone who's going to bleat "Well why'd we send those troops to Iraq instead of North Korea?":

      The city of Seoul is home to eleven million people. The city of Seoul is also within artillery range of North Korea. Artillery is cheap and ubiquitous, and as North Korea's army is arrayed along Soviet lines, they have scads of it. Until it fires, it's damned hard to spot camoflaged artillery from the air, and even if you could spot all of it, the sheer number of artillery pieces they have is quite staggering.

      If you have a plan for military intervention in North Korea that doesn't lead to the virtual annihilation of Seoul within hours of the start of the war, please, we're all ears.
      • Troop numbers... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:05AM (#10225161) Journal
        134,000: Number of US troops sent to Iraq [usatoday.com], to topple Saddam Hussein's regime, which had nothing to do with September 11th.

        17,900: Number of US troops sent to Afghanistan, to hunt down Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the people responsible for September 11th and other terrorist attacks against the US. [globalsecurity.org]

        That give you an indication of what the Bush adminstrations priorities have been?
      • by rampant mac (561036) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @02:35AM (#10225781)
        "If you have a plan for military intervention in North Korea that doesn't lead to the virtual annihilation of Seoul within hours of the start of the war, please, we're all ears."

        I know this is probably too late to get modded up, but I spent a year in Osan, Make no mistake, we weren't there to to protect South Korean. In fact, after arriving at Osan, we were briefed that we were, literally, nothing more than speed bumps, preventing the North's troops from advancing too quickly through the South. We were there to hold off the North's attack until reinforcements could arrive from Japan.

        To get an idea how large their army was, they gave us a rough estimate that we would be outnumbered 100 to 1. Needless to say, during exercises, we would be laden down with about 15 pounds of ammo; Not because we didn't need it, but because it made us aware of what we were up against.

  • Misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by b0lt (729408) <b0lt@ls.qc.to> on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:31AM (#10224859)
    This probably isn't a nuclear detonation, since they would be instantly detected, due to the huge flash created. Back in the 80s, we had satellite technology to detect nuclear explosions. Don't you think we have it now?
    • Re:Misleading (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dameron (307970) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:37AM (#10224903) Homepage
      If is it nuclear then yes, the U.S. military would likely know about it, but I highly doubt they would make this information available to the public so quickly.

      It would be highly embarassing to the current administration to have to N. Korea's insane nuclear ambitions (which is a back burner issue for them) dominate the news during the 9/11 observance.

      Behind one these curtains is an weird, probably psychotic dictator with weapons of mass destruction? Can you guess which one?

      Wrong again George.

      -dameron
      • by s-orbital (598727) <slashdot@org.arthurk@com> on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:52AM (#10225036) Homepage Journal
        Behind one these curtains is a weird, probably psychotic dictator with weapons of mass destruction? Can you guess which one?

        A: Behind our curtain!
      • Re:Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Blakey Rat (99501) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:58AM (#10225095)
        Yes, but here's the fundamental issue:

        What do you DO about North Korea?

        You can invade Iraq and dismantle their government with relatively few casualties.

        But if you even START to THINK about invading North Korea, Seoul gets hit by 50,000 missiles before our troops can even step across the border. Sure, North Korea would fall in a matter of days, but not until after they'd done tons of damage.

        The ONLY way to deal with North Korea is diplomacy. Any other dealing will reduce Seoul to rubble in a matter of minutes. THAT is why nobody has done anything about that particular psychotic dictator, except met with him diplomatically.
        • Re:Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

          by flacco (324089) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:44AM (#10225455)
          But if you even START to THINK about invading North Korea, Seoul gets hit by 50,000 missiles before our troops can even step across the border. Sure, North Korea would fall in a matter of days, but not until after they'd done tons of damage.

          and i'm sure he'll become more sane, have less weapons, and become less desperate as time goes on.

        • Re:Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

          by quax (19371) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @03:12AM (#10225982)
          If you have to deal with them diplomatically it would have really helped if the president did not includ them into the axis of evil when giving a puplic speech. Not very diplomatic now, is it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:31AM (#10224860)
    But the cloud was produced by MS word...
  • by dameron (307970) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:31AM (#10224864) Homepage
    Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

    How long can we ignore this crazy bastard, Kim Jong-il I mean? Are we gonna have to wait until he strikes oil?

    -dameron
    • by Wind_Walker (83965) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @02:09AM (#10225634) Homepage Journal
      How long can we ignore this crazy bastard, Kim Jong-il I mean?

      I'm glad you cleared that up. I thought you were talking about Bush.

  • by voisine (153062) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:33AM (#10224872)
    Those wacky North Koreans... at it again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:34AM (#10224878)
    Nuclear Launch... Detected
  • by rel4x (783238) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:34AM (#10224881)
    ....who looked at the title of this article, and wondered whether it was North Korea or the U.S. who dropped it?
  • The Time Frame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Caraig (186934) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:41AM (#10224932)
    Something interesting to note. This took place on Thursday, 09 September. Two days ago. The news is only getting out now.

    Anyone else think it quite remarkable that we live in an age where information travels at incredible speeds all over the world... but it took two days for the (at least mainstream) media to report this? Think about it. There are still places in the world where something equivalent to a small nuke can go off -- mushroom cloud and all -- and we don't NOTICE it right away.

    It's kind of humbling.
  • Hey now, maybe it's a good mushroom cloud. You know, like umm... err... a cotton candy factory exploding. That wouldn't be too bad, right?
  • Yeah, right... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:52AM (#10225027)
    From an CNN story post a few minutes ago:

    The U.S. official said the cloud could be the result of a forest fire.

    Damn, we must look stupid to gov't officials.

    Cheers,

    Erick

    • by theolein (316044) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @02:07AM (#10225626) Journal
      From the BBC article: "A crater caused by the blast could be seen from a satellite, an unnamed official in Beijing was quoted by Yonhap as saying."

      Forest fires cause lots of damage, but generally they don't make huge craters visible from space. ;)
    • Well I would note (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @02:20AM (#10225704)
      That you have NO idea what the fuck happened over there. You are sitting in front of your computer, relying on third or fourth hand stories of the event. So trying to declare that you know which is true and false, at this point, is pretty stupid. I would also note that CNN is a considerable more credible news source than Yahoo news.

      So, what really happened? Well, I dunno, but neither do you. If you assume that it was a nuclear blast, you are taking that on faith. There is little in the way of second hand confirmation and you sure as hell have NO first hand information.

      So while I'm not saying that CNN isn't wrong, please let's lay off the bashing until there is more information.
  • by scupper (687418) * on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:52AM (#10225032) Homepage
    New York Times
    Atomic Activity in North Korea Raises Concerns
    By DAVID E. SANGER and WILLIAM J. BROAD
    September 12, 2004
    http://tinyurl.com/5kb3d [tinyurl.com]

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 - President Bush and his top advisers have received intelligence reports in recent days describing a confusing series of actions by North Korea that some experts believe could indicate the country is preparing to conduct its first test explosion of a nuclear weapon, according to senior officials with access to the intelligence.

    While the indications were viewed as serious enough to warrant a warning to the White House, American intelligence agencies appear divided about the significance of the new North Korean actions, much as they were about the evidence concerning Iraq's alleged weapons stockpiles.

    Some analysts in agencies that were the most cautious about the Iraq findings have cautioned that they do not believe the activity detected in North Korea in the past three weeks is necessarily the harbinger of a test. A senior scientist who assesses nuclear intelligence says the new evidence "is not conclusive," but is potentially worrisome.

    If successful, a test would end a debate that stretches back more than a decade over whether North Korea has a rudimentary arsenal, as it has boasted in recent years. Some analysts also fear that a test could change the balance of power in Asia, perhaps leading to a new nuclear arms race there.

    In interviews on Friday and Saturday, senior officials were reluctant to provide many details of the new activities they have detected, but some of the information appears to have come from satellite intelligence.

    One official with access to the intelligence called it "a series of indicators of increased activity that we believe would be associated with a test," saying that the "likelihood" of a North Korean test had risen significantly in just the past four weeks. It was that changed assessment that led to the decision to give an update to President Bush, the officials said.

    The activities included the movement of materials around several suspected test sites, including one near a location where intelligence agencies reported last year that conventional explosives were being tested that could compress a plutonium core and set off a nuclear blast. But officials have not seen the classic indicators of preparations at a test site, in which cables are laid to measure an explosion in a deep test pit.

    "I'm not sure you would see that in a country that has tunnels everywhere," said one senior official who has reviewed the data. Officials said if North Korea proceeded with a test, it would probably be with a plutonium bomb, perhaps one fabricated from the 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods that the North has boasted in the past few months have been reprocessed into bomb fuel.

    A senior intelligence official noted Saturday that even if "they are doing something, it doesn't mean they will" conduct a test, noting that preparations that the North knew could be detected by the United States might be a scare tactic or negotiating tactic by the North Korean government.

    Several officials speculated that the test, if it occurred, could be intended to influence the presidential election, though a senior military official said while "an election surprise" could be the motive, "I'm not sure what that would buy them."

    While the intelligence community's experience in Iraq colors how it assesses threats in places like North Korea, the comparisons are inexact. Inspectors have seen and measured the raw material that the North could turn into bomb fuel; the only question is whether they have done so in the 20 months since arms inspectors were ousted. While Iraq denied it has weapons, the North boasts about them - perhaps too loudly, suggesting they may have less than they say.

    On the other hand, the divisions within the administration over how to deal with North Korea mirrors some of the old debate about Iraq. Hard-l
  • Little Known Fact (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:56AM (#10225082)
    All GPS satellites have detectors for a nuclear flash.

    http://ares.redsword.com/GPS/old/sum_sat.htm
  • by Omega Hacker (6676) <omega.omegacs@net> on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:02AM (#10225134)

    This CNN story [cnn.com] claims that a US official suggests that the mushroom cloud might be caused by a forest fire. A little bit of physics knowledge [layman/common-sense] makes this suggestion laughable: a mushroom cloud is caused by a large amount of superheated gasses, concentrated and hot enough to rise miles into the atmosphere before dissipating enough to break the cap. Unless they have had a multi-year drought and a forest dense enough to flash to many thousand degrees C in a very short period of time, there's no possible way the mushroom cloud was created that way.

    Now, it's entirely possible that it is not a mushroom cloud, as it sounds like all the indications of its presence so far are satellite shots. AFAIK very few, if any, satellites can shoot pictures at a sufficiently low angle to actually get enough outline to confirm a mushroom cloud. Basic physics again: too low and angle, you get a massively distored image because there's a) more air in the way, and b) angle of incidence causes wild refraction.

    If anyone can elaborate on (or correct) these two issues, please comment. I'd be glad to be proven wrong in some way, as a verified nuclear N.Korea is not a good thing. However, what we know so far is not promising.

  • Other possibilities (Score:5, Informative)

    by r_j_prahad (309298) <r_j_prahad&hotmail,com> on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:26AM (#10225328)
    Paektu-san (Mount Paektu or White Head Mountain), is an extinct volcano and Korea's highest mountain (2,744 meters). It's located on North Korea's northern land border. It may have sprung violently back to life like North America's own Mount St. Helens.

    Also, forest fires occur there with some regularity (more than 130 at once this summer), and can produce large white mushroom shaped clouds under the right atmospheric conditions.

    Let's not jump to conclusions. Oh wait, this is Slashdot....
  • Possibly volcanic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NeuroManson (214835) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:33AM (#10225373) Homepage
    While I don't have a degree in geophysics, I wonder if the mushroom cloud was volcanic in nature? N. Korea *is* close enough to the ring of fire that it could, perhaps in a fluke, have experienced a volcanic eruption, resulting in both a crater, and a miles wide mushroom cloud.

    If I remember correctly, Mt. St. Helens wasn't expected to erupt either, except by geophysicists, and in comparison was a relatively unprecedented event (being that the only volconoes to erupt in a US territory within recent history were in Hawaii).
  • by theolein (316044) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @01:59AM (#10225560) Journal
    Oh, for crying out loud! Everyone and his mom are speculating about "teh bomb". Consider the options in a rational manner, for once, please. Even if this is the /dot:

    Possibility number 1: A nuclear explosion. If it was a nuclear explosion, remember that it happened close North Koreas's north eastern border with China. If that is the case, remember that the prevailing winds will blow the fallout either north or west, in which case the fallout will cross over into China, and you can bet your sweet apple pie that China will not take lightly to radioactive fallout from a neighbouring country, or the winds blow the fallout east in which case both Japan and Russia (Yes, George, Russia is just across the way over there) will raise living hell, or the winds blow the fallout south in which case South Korea gets to crap their collective pants. Either way, the international media will find out really fast about it.

    2. It was an accident such as the one a few months ago, when a train laden with chemicals went up into the air. Given that NK is poor as hell and workplace safety not a major concern, this is the most likely cause. If this is the case, it is possible that it will take a long while until the media discover it.

    3. It was a military accident at a missile site, where one exploding missile set off the rest, a la Chinese firecrackers. If this is the case, the NK's will probably try to keep it as secret as possible as it would be hugely embarrassing to the fuckers who routinely make huge boasts about their military and have this obsession with saving face.
  • NK != Iraq (Score:5, Informative)

    by rlp (11898) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @04:00AM (#10226221)
    A little history - In 1994 Clinton sent Carter to negotiate a treaty with North Korea. The North Koreans agreed not to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars of aid in the form of food and oil, and assistance in developing a "peaceful" nuclear program. The North Koreans then used their "peaceful" nuclear program with assistance from Abdul Qadeer Khan from Pakistan to develop their own nukes thus secretly breaking their agreement. North Korea also has an active missile programs and has conducted "test firings" of multi-stage missiles - shooting them over Japan. Japan is not very happy about this.

    The U.S. with U.N. backing (the Soviet Union's UN ambassador had walked out - thus avoiding a veto) fought a war with the North Koreans in the 1950's. The war ended with an armistice in 1953 - not a peace treaty. North Korea has a 1.1 million man army out of a population of 22 million. They spend about 23% of their GDP on the military. The South Korean capital - Seoul is within easy artillery range of the North Korean border, and the North Koreans are believed to have a lot of hidden artillery in bunkers on the border. In the event of war, a lot of civilians in South Korea would die quickly. Finally, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il is a wacko. While his people starve, he imports large quantities of large items for himself (he favors Hennessy cognac). He's had Japanese citizens kidnapped to teach the Japanese language to North Koreans spies . He's a movie nut (owns 20,000 films) and kidnapped a South Korean movie director to make films about himself.

    China is North Korea's largest trade partner and patron. However, with China's economic boom - China now trades far more with South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. Nevertheless, China is still wary of Japan - remembering the horrors inflicted on China by the Japaneses during WWII. Since the war, Japan has become an economic rather than military power, and it's pacifistic constitution (written by the US) ensures that it will not again become a threat to it's neighbors.

    A nuclear North Korea threatens the balance in the region. It is not in the interest of China for South Korea to develop it's own nukes. It is not in the interest of anyone for the Japanese to develop nukes to counter the threat of nuclear armed missiles from North Korea. China's real nightmare - is if the region starts a nuclear arms race and Taiwan goes nuclear.

    So, the choices are as follows:

    1) Cut a deal similar to the 1994 Carter deal that the North Koreans violated (fool me once ...)
    2) Attack North Korea and risk immediate massive civilian casualties in South Korea.
    3) Drag China into the negotiations with North Korea and convince them to "curb your dog".
    4) Close our eyes, put our fingers in our ears and shout "La La La La La ...".

    Personally, I think the only viable answer is number three - and that's what we're doing.
  • by Ranger (1783) on Sunday September 12, 2004 @12:33PM (#10228096) Homepage
    They probably buried to much kimchee together and it reached critical mass. Rotting cabbage in an enclosed container produces highly explosive gasses. And when you bury them in a collective farm they usually pack them too close together. Then blammo. An enourmous cabbage cloud, not mushroom cloud, shoots skyward. I do understand that any kimchee that survives the inferno is pretty tasty.

    Thank God they didn't do that on the Moon or it we would have lost it.

Always think of something new; this helps you forget your last rotten idea. -- Seth Frankel

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