2006-10-08

North Korea: Nuclear Bomb Test?

Little Green Footballs is following the story.
The Belmont Club is reporting here.
Seismic data from Inchon.
Fox News:
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Monday it has performed its first-ever nuclear weapons test and the blast had been successfully set off underground with no radioactive leakage from the site.

An official at South Korea's seismic monitoring center confirmed a magnitude-3.6 tremor felt at the time North Korea said it conducted the test was not a natural occurrence. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition his name not be used, because he was not authorized to talk about the sensitive information to the media.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that information still needs to collected and analyzed to determine whether North Korea truly conducted its first nuclear test.

UPDATE: Fox News confirms.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea successfully completed a test of a nuclear weapon late Sunday night, a senior Bush administration official confirmed to FOX News.

The official said, however, that the underground blast only measured a registered a 3.58 seismic reaction, which was smaller than the 400-kiloton explosion the Axis of Evil nation sought.

"North Korea may not have got what they wanted," the official said.

Possibly related: Syria, Iran gearing up for Syrian strike on Israel.
Tehran and Damascus are gearing up for a pre-emptive Syrian attack on Israel to ward off a US strike on Iran’s nuclear sites. Our military and Washington sources read as preparatory justification the Syrian ruler Bashar Asad’s statement Saturday, Oct. 7, that he expects an Israeli attack. He was speaking in an interview to Kuwaiti paper al-Anba. Asad’s Iranian-backed war plan would serve the purpose of forcing the Americans to divide their military assets between a strike against Iran and the defense of their allies in the Persia Gulf, Israel and US forces in Iraq. Both are seriously looking at a Syrian attack on the Golan which would escalate into a full-blown Syrian-Israeli war and a second Hizballah assault from Lebanon. ... According to DEBKAfile’s sources, Asad and Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are prompted by the following motives: 1. Tehran is not prepared to wait passively for the Americans to build up their assault force in the Gulf and strike its nuclear facilities. A pre-emptive attack would suit them better. 2. Tehran and Damascus have not missed the debilitating crisis in which Israel’s political and military leadership are sunk since the Lebanon war. They do not propose to wait until the IDF pulls itself together enough to handle fresh aggression. 3. Both accept Israel’s deputy prime minister Shimon Peres’ assessment that Israel’s cities are not prepared for missile attack. Iran and Syria take it for granted that Israeli leaders understand they cannot afford to launch missiles against either one of them for fear of reprisal in kind. 4. Syria believes that if Hizballah could stand up to the Israeli army in Lebanon, its commandoes can capture sections of the Golan and walk off with an easy victory. 5. Tehran figures that the Bush administration is coming to the end of its patience in Iraq and preparing for a major review of its position there. The influential U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman, John Warner, said Friday that Iraq`s government had 60 to 90 days to control the violence that threatens civil war or the United States would have to reconsider its options. This gives the Maliki government in Baghdad up to December or January to de-escalate if not halt the sectarian war engulfing the country. Iran, Syria and Hizballah would not be averse to disrupting the American Iraq timeline by attacking Israel and putting the Bush administration on the spot, forced to address three warfronts simultaneously.

Or four warfronts, if you include North Korea. Whether or not a successful nuclear test took place, I think it's likely that Pyongyang is co-ordinating with Damascus and Tehran to try to stretch US defense resources. On October 6, an analyst at Stratfor (subscription service) wrote that 'There does not appear to be anything particular about Sunday (the date is Oct. 8) that makes it a good day for a nuclear test' and proposed that Pyongyang might be playing Washington for concessions; or if (as we now know to be the case) North Korea did actually test, that the intent and effect would be to put the Republicans in a tight spot.

BREAKING from the Jerusalem Post:
A US official said China received 20 minutes' warning from North Korea of the nuclear test it apparently conducted Monday morning, CNN reported.

South Korean seismologists confirmed a 3.6 magnitude tremor at the time of the test, and that it was not of natural origin.


UPDATE via Gateway Pundit. Korea Liberator:
First, that North Korea tested a nuke is not confirmed. The could have merely detonated a large amount of conventional explosives in deep (est. ~2km) mine to simulate a nuclear test; after all, the Taepodong 2 ICBM was an abject failure. It’s a possibility, but I doubt it as satellites will probably be able to differentiate between the two. Second, militarily I don’t see any action coming soon; Pakistan/India, but with more sanctions. Seoul didn’t even raise the military alert level. Third, mid-to-long term, UN sections are on the way that may finally topple the Kim regime; let’s hope so. Fourth, North Korea once again a) made China look the fool for conveying its offer not to test, and b) showed that it makes such offers in bad faith to begin with.


Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail:
The implications for North Asia and beyond are dire. Not only will the armed forces of Japan and South Korea be placed on high alert, but these nations will be forced to seriously consider building their own nuclear deterrent. Defensive measure such as AEGIS cruisers may not be enough. The United States will be forced to devote additional diplomatic and military assets to deal with the threat, siphoning resources away form the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and the looming crisis with Iran.