Thursday, October 02, 2003

good God, Spock-- a LETTER!

John Moore of Useful Fools writes in!

I'm not sure why I haven't blogrolled this gentleman yet. He's got a great blog. Hell, it's going on the blogroll tonight.

[Mr. Moore's email follows]

A couple of comments from a non-expert who reads your blog and many others, and who has a physics background and has gathered a bunch of info about nukes ( ).

First, I (like many, probably) invented the term Norks earlier this year for my blog... and then was a bit amused to discover that it is Aussie slang for tits ( ). Thus you may get a few weird web hits as a result of horny aussies.

Regarding limited war like striking the Yongbyon reactor... several things...

1) It is my guess that the reactor is not essential to the Nork nuke program. Neither is the above ground plutonium extraction facility. The reason is that, like the Iranians, the Norks are known to have a uranium enrichment program, which is probably deep underground. They also have uranium mines, so they have the raw material.

I recently read a book ( Victory and Deceit: Deception and Trickery at War by James F. Dunnigan, Albert A. Nofi ) that reminds me of how critical deception is in warfare, and that the Russians have long been the masters of this. And guess who trained the Norks and the Iraqi's (and we are now seeing, with the WMD hunt, that some sort of very serious deception by Iraq was involved there, although we don't know exactly what it was).

Thus I think the reactor and above-ground extraction plants are, today, sort of decoys. Certainly if we had bombed immediately after the inspectors were thrown out, we could have destroyed (or at least scattered widely) NK's plutonium, before it was taken to a probably underground extraction facility.

This analysis is somewhat based on the following facts: it is easy to put uranium enrichment and plutonium extraction facilities underground. However, reactors generate large amounts of heat that must be removed, making them harder to put underground unless there is a large underground river.

Uranium enrichment is hard and expensive compared to creating plutonium in a reactor and extracting it. However, crude enriched uranium bombs are easy to make, while plutonium bombs require very precise electronics and explosives to work (the US never even tested the uranium bombwe dropped on Japan, while we did test the Plutonium bomb first). But uranium enrichment doesn't require reactors, doesn't generate much heat, and NK has its own supplies of uranium from its own mines (it used to export uranium to the USSR).

Finally... a guess... I suspect that we could strike the reactor and enrichment facility with no escalation resulting. In fact, the Norks might welcome it as a rallying point for the population. The reason for no escalation is that they know that their nice comfy existence (of the elite, of course) would be blown to bits if they started a real war. Hence I think it likely that they never, ever intend to actually get into armed combat with the US. To take over the South, they probably figure that having nuke tipped ICBM's pointed at the US, and US troops out of SK (via long term political agitation) would be enough to allow them to take the south by nuclear blackmail.

John Moore (Useful Fools Blog -


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