Bill Gertz reports from the Washington Times:
U.S. intelligence agencies say, based on preliminary indications, that North Korea did not produce its first nuclear blast yesterday.
U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that seismic readings show that the conventional high explosives used to create a chain reaction in a plutonium-based device went off, but that the blast’s readings were shy of a typical nuclear detonation.
“We’re still evaluating the data, and as more data comes in, we hope to develop a clearer picture,” said one official familiar with intelligence reports.
“There was a seismic event that registered about 4 on the Richter scale, but it still isn’t clear if it was a nuclear test. You can get that kind of seismic reading from high explosives.”
The underground explosion, which Pyongyang dubbed a historic nuclear test, is thought to have been the equivalent of several hundred tons of TNT, far short of the several thousand tons of TNT, or kilotons, that are signs of a nuclear blast, the official said.
The official said that so far, “it appears there was more fizz than pop.”
Whether it really was a nuclear test, you can best believe that Washington, DC has taken notice. Which is exactly what Jong-il wanted, along with ‘concessions.’
Democrats, of course, are taking this opportunity to attempt to shore up their national security credentials, claiming the President has been ‘ignoring’ North Korea. Dafydd at Big Lizards rightly slams such Democrats, who simply cannot be trusted to tackle the problem that is Kim Jong-il.
More: Greg Tinti takes a look at the conflicting reports on whether or not this actually rose to the level of nuclear, and provides a reminder that this latest saber rattling on the part of the Norks is not going to be just a test of the US’ will, but the UN’s as well.
Update I: Please make sure to bookmark this Onion-esque site
The United States does not need a multi-billion-dollar national missile defense against the possibility of a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile.