Wednesday, January 6, 2016

North Korean H-Bomb

Obama is focused on gun control, but seems to have missed a bigger problem.  From CNBC:
North Korea claimed it detonated a hydrogen bomb in a test Wednesday, a move that was condemned by the U.S., Britain, Japan and even China. It was the politically isolated country's first nuclear weapons test explosion in three years.

Experts said the claim that the test involved a hydrogen bomb, which is more powerful than an atomic bomb, could not be confirmed. Determining what kind of device North Korea tested would take several days, U.S. government sources told Reuters.
A lot are skeptical that they did this, but my understanding is that the U.S. managed to enhance yield on some of the immediate post-war atomic bombs by just adding tritium to them.  It isn't that hard.  


James Gibson said...

The real concern is whether this was the test of the core fission bomb for a hydrogen bomb. When we went to underground testing we had to limit the test to the "Key" components. To detonate a full yield bomb would have caused a blow out undermining the logic of underground testing.

For over a year now even the anti-nukes have been wondering if North Korea was doing the tests for a low yield, small size, bomb that they could mount on a missile. If they are now hydrogen boosting they can reduce the amount of Fissile material used while retaining the yield. Thus they could then dismantle say two of their bombs and then make from them three boosted of similar yield. Either situation is not good: (1) they are working on boosted weapons which can mean a rapid increase in the number of nuclear weapons, or (2) they are working on a hydrogen bomb which would mean very high yield.

StormCchaser said...

Yes, tritium boosting of fission bombs is not hard. It also doesn't bring them to the yield that hydrogen bombs are capable of. Technically, a tritium boosted fission bomb also has fusion. It is quite different from a two stage thermonuclear weapon, which has a small fission trigger (itself perhaps boosted) and then a fusion secondary that can be as big as you want. Tsar Bomba was something like 44 MT.

Apparently this latest Nork Nuke was quite small - 5kt or something, so if it was tritium boosted, the boosting didn't work.