North Korea's One Ton Bomb?

The Financial Times reports a North Korean defector claims "Kim Jong-il's regime has made a one-tonne nuclear bomb and is working on lighter weapons that could be fired more reliably, according to a South Korean magazine."Is this plausible? Yeah, kinda.I wrote a blog post about this a while back, as did my co-blogger Paul Kerr in Arms Control Today.The unclassified testimony on North Korea and the CTBT suggests Pyongyang has "simple fission-type nuclear weapons ... validated ... without conducting yield-producing nuclear tests."Simple fission-type" is a term of art that means FRICKIN' HEAVY.Simple_fission_type_devices.jpgNot heavy like Liz Taylor, but heavy like the Nagaski device (left, with a friend), which weighed 9,000 lbs. In practice, "simple fission-type" means too heavy for a long-range ballistic missile, although the emminent John Holdren allowed that a new nuclear state might produce an unreliable warhead that needs testing in the 1,0002,000 pound range.Rowan Scarborough (of the Washington Times) reported on a classified DIA report that estimated the NORKs couldn't do better than 650-750 kg (1,400-1,700 lbs).So, one ton is at the edge of plausible, but my guess is they aren't that good.-- posted by Jeffrey Lewis.

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