“Why didn’t you tell the world?”

The Monkey’s Uncle thinks North Korea has the bomb. I don’t, and I’ll tell you why — they haven’t tested it.

An untested weapon is suicide to deploy against the enemy. If they haven’t tested it, it is because they don’t have it. What is the downside of testing? Once you have tested, you are in the club. There isn’t any doubt about whether or not you are a nuclear power, and once you are, the rules change. If you are just talking about having nukes and not testing them, then you are wasting your time.

Anyone that can make one bomb can make two. The value of the second bomb goes up by several magnitudes as soon as the first one blows up. Until the design is proven, all they are is expensive radioactive hunks of metal. The signature of a nuclear test is detectable worldwide and too distinctive to hide. They couldn’t have tested it in secret — and wouldn’t have wanted to in the first place.

History bears this out — the best thing Pakistan ever did in its war with India was test a nuke. It is sad but true. Once it was tested, India had to deal with them as a peer. This is the status that North Korea wants to have, and they can’t get there. They are trying to get the next best thing right now, and I don’t buy it. That is why we assumed that Saddam was going for chemical and biological weapons. Those can be tested and developed in secret. You can’t finish development of a nuke in secret because you can’t test it in secret.

This is pure bluster, because doing something would have a thousand times the impact of talking about doing something. They are playing the same old brinkmanship, and our best bet would be to do exactly what we are doing: ignore it. Treat them like a child threatening to hold his breath until he dies.

Even sitting all of that aside, this is still a stupid thing for North Korea to do. Our policy is clear — treat all nuclear blackmail as nuclear attacks. It has been our policy since the end of WW2 that if anyone ever told us “Do A or we will nuke you” that we nuke them first. That is the policy that North Korea is edging towards testing, and that is a test that I think will be successful.


  1. Brian says:

    Phelps, I agree with most of what you said except for a pre-emptive nuclear strike, or a pre-emptive strike of any kind. Okay, so I’m being selfish about this, being an airborne Korean linguist in the Air Force who flies on Special Operations aircraft. I’d rather not go there. But for the record, I too think this is brinkmanship. I’ve watched North Korea since I joined, and similar moves by them have never worried me, but this one does. Not just because of North Korea, but I have to be honest, this administration, while of course I stand behind them 100%, tends to be a little trigger-happy. I have NO idea what Kim Jong Il was thinking on this one. What POSSIBLY could he have to gain from this move? This is the worst move in the world that he could have made. Absolute idiocy.

  2. Brian says:

    This is true, but you never know with the “Jonger” as we call him. Truth be told, I think this was all planned, but that’s just me.

  3. Phelps says:

    Well, you have to remember that this wasn’t an official pronouncement from KJI. This was a minor diplomat in an interview telling stories out of school. This might not be policy. (And if it isn’t, that guy probably bought a bullet to the back of the head.)

  4. Alex D. says:

    Is it possible for a country to test nuclear arms underground without being detected? It’s a long-shot, but I sense that maybe the return of N. Korea’s weapons program, followed by the tsunamis, followed by this announcement seems to fit.

  5. The Fire Ant Gazette says:

    Good reads around the web

    Three links to worthwhile insights about some important issues of the day.

  6. Brian says:

    I don’t think it’s possible. You know that at the very least, South Korea’s got their seismographs set at “SUPER SENSITIVE”. There’s no way they could have gotten away with it. Which is what makes me nervous. I think the Jonger might be crazy enough to launch a nuke WITHOUT testing it first. And the fact that they have a nuke, or more than one, might not be the scariest part. What is their delivery vehicle capable of?

  7. Phelps says:

    Japan or Hawaii by missile, anywhere on a coastline via shipping container.

  8. The Commons at Paulie World says:

    I Concur With Phelps

    The Everlasting Phelps The Everlasting Phelps posits that North Korea says they have a bomb when in fact they don’t. His reason is: they haven’t tested it. My feeling is similar, and part of the game Kim Jung-il is playing….

  9. dustbury.com says:

    We will bury you, if we can borrow a shovel

    “Hey, everybody, we’ve got nukes!” sings the Dear Leader, or someone under his Glorious Thumb. Phelps isn’t buying: I’ll tell you why — they haven’t tested it. An untested weapon…

  10. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    Where are “Team America world Police” When you need them?

  11. cube says:

    “Until the design is proven, all they are is expensive radioactive hunks of metal.”

    I agree with you point. But what if the design has already been proven (just not by NK.). NK did not develope the technology all in house, they got it from other countires that we KNOW are nuclear powers. If i understand correctly their technology came from Pakistan and Pakistan’s technology came from china.

    Secondly, NK also has a base level of nuclear technology (remember that reactor they are running).

    While thier are many things that could go wrong, if the directions were specific enough they could get close enough that with a little luck they would not need to test it.