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 [F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  /

    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

Earliest Messages Previous Messages Recent Messages Outline (5462 previous messages)

manjumicha - 01:32am Nov 5, 2002 EST (# 5463 of 5470)

mazza & robert

In a strange way, you guys are perfect illustrations of how American left and right are so into each other's presumptious world views that both succeed in distracting each other from seeing the "Here I prove you are foolishly wrong so I must be right" discourses are typical hubris of citizens of empire who think too highly of themselves.

I wouldn't waste space here pointing out mazza's comical howlings, huffings and puffings....since it has become rather boring exercise (i.e. repetitive). But here is my little critique on yours:

Robert, the entire german nation became a huge "rape camp" of victorious and vengeful Russian army (one of the more famous victim-survivors of such crimes being Helmut Kohl's wife who recently passed away), that didn't make west germans to cut a deal with russians to finance their post-soviet redevelopments...nor did it prevent east germans from joining red camp. Your approach of personalizing the nations' conflicts into human terms are NOT always so rational and can often lead to "ugly contortion" instead of "beautifully balanced" perspective. Despite your humanistic spin, you do not deviate much from the central presumption that American can militarily attack NK and win without unbearable cost to itself.

So here is a claim that I hope might cause to retool your presumptions.....

Does North Korea Have H-Bombs? October 25, 2002


The US CIA has known for several years that North Korea has one or two (or even three) plutonium implosion bombs of the type the United States dropped on Nagasaki in1945. The Nagasaki bomb (the Fat Man) had the destructive power of mere 22 kt and killed about 70,000 residents. The 15 kt Hiroshima bomb (the Little Boy), a uranium gun-assembly, killed about 200,000. More people were killed in Hiroshima, although the bomb was smaller, due to the bombardier's error of dropping the Fat Man one and half miles off its target.

Though sounds scary, plutonium bombs are limited in destructive power unless one exploded several hundreds of them at the same time. One or two (or even 50) plutonium bombs would do little damage to a large nation such as Japan and the United Sates: at best, they could take out a few hundred blocks of a city and kill a few hundred thousands people - a drop in the bucket.

A crude plutonium bomb requires 35.2 lbs (16 kg) but this critical mass drops sharply with the fissile density (inverse of the square of the density) achieved with better bomb designs. A critical mass of less than one kg has been achieved by the United States, Russia and China. The Nagasaki bomb had 6.2 kg of plutonium. The US CIA estimates that North Korea has at least 70 lbs (31.5 kg) of plutonium and so it could theoretically have made 1-3 plutonium bombs. It has been reported that China has told the United States that North Korea has 3-5 plutonium bombs and that these bombs are small enough to be carried by North Korean missiles aimed at the US military bases in the Far East. How many nukes North Korea has depends on how advanced their bomb technology is. The 207,000 American soldiers in the Far East are in danger of getting hit by 1-5 plutonium bombs and biochemical warheads. This is an acceptable risk for the United States.

But this is not the end of the story. North Korea told the US that it has more 'powerful' weapons. What would be more powerful than A-bombs? The answer is H-bombs. It is no secret that North Korea has a large stockpile of bio-chemical weapons. Chemical weapons are limited in range and so, they are used mainly for tactical purposes. For example, North Korea would use chemicals to disable US forces dug in along the DMZ or Inchon-style landing. Biological weapons are more effective as psywar weapons. Germ bombs dropped on large population centers would cause panic among civilians and

manjumicha - 01:35am Nov 5, 2002 EST (# 5464 of 5470)


On the other hand, even a handful of H-bombs, with mega-tons of TNT, could wipe out large cities and would present unacceptable risks to the United Stated.

Fission bombs ('A-bombs') are notoriously inefficient. For example, the two bombs dropped in Japan burned less than 0.1 per cent of the fissile material. Practically the entire fissile matters obtained at a huge expense turned into worthless dust without killing a single Japanese. How would one go about increasing the efficiency and at the same time reduce the cost? The H-bomb is the answer for getting more bang cheaper using less fissile expensive materials. H-bombs use only a small amount of costly plutonium and use cheap uranium-238 and light elements for the main punch. North Korea is known to have two active uranium mines and a huge recoverable deposits of U-238. Since an H-bomb requires only a tiny amount of plutonium to trigger U-238 explosion, North Korea's suspected stock pile of 70 lbs of plutonium and virtually unlimited supply of U-238 may mean scores, if not hundreds, of H-bombs hidden in some of the 11,000 underground facilities in North Korea.

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