Tuesday, May 26, 2009

North Korea’s Nuclear Test: Another Fizzle?

Via FAS Strategic Security Blog -

The Korean Central News Agency reportedly has announced that North Korea “successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of measures to bolster its nuclear deterrent for self-defense.” Several news media reported that the Russian Ministry of Defense estimating the test had a yield of approximately 10 to 20 kilotons.

Yet the preliminary seismic data published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the test had a seismic magnitude of 4.7, only slightly more powerful than the 4.3 of the 2006 test.

Was it another fizzle? We’ll have to wait for more analysis of the seismic data, but so far the early news media reports about a “Hiroshima-size” nuclear explosion seem to be overblown.

Update: CTBTO’s initial findings.

1 comment:

  1. Check the FAS blog updates to see why this is a bit misleading.

    Using CTBTO's numbers, (10 ^ ((4.51 - 4.1) * 1.5) = 4.1 times as much energy was released

    Using Wikipedia's numbers (10 & ((4.7 - 4.2) * 1.5) = 5.6 times as much energy was released

    This is quite plausibly a 10-15 kiloton event, in the same order of magnitude as the Hiroshima bomb.