back to article Nature pulls ‘North Korean radioactivity’ story

Prestigious science journal Nature has had to scramble to kill a story that it says turned out to be mistaken. The piece – posted as “news” rather than peer-reviewed science – made the claim that measurements of Xenon-133 provided further evidence, if that was needed, that North Korea had indeed detonated a nuclear device as …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Conspiracy theories

    in 3, 2, 1,...

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Conspiracy theories

      Nature is in fact controlled by the North Korean government? That would explain the popularity of the anti-science brigade in the US!

      1. ukgnome Silver badge

        Re: Conspiracy theories

        This is so typical in the conspiracy communities - A+B=X

        Everyone knows that Nature is controlled by lizards from the lower fourth dimension, although I am not ruling out the Kims as humans controlled via the shadow method of imprinting. I don't believe they are true lizards like the rothchilds etc

        1. NomNomNom

          Re: Conspiracy theories

          "izards from the lower fourth dimension"

          lower FIFTH dimension.

          Try not to make silly errors or no-one will take you seriously.

          1. ukgnome Silver badge

            Re: Conspiracy theories

            No - I definitely meant lower 4th - don't they teach kids Icke these days

            not for the gullible

          2. AndrueC Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Conspiracy theories

            "izards from the lower fourth dimension"

            I never did trust Eddie :)

  2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Coat

    Worlds most handsome man...

    ...farts. Gets blamed for global warming. Pictures in Nature.

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: Worlds most handsome man...

      He's a North Korean who farts Xenon-133?

      I bet he's a bit sore. You wouldn't want to be in a confined space with him either.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Worlds most handsome man...

        Hey, don't knock it. I've had curries like that.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

    The former Minister of Defense and National Security Adviser of Japan, Yuriko Koike, even suggested last Spring that the previous NK nuclear tests were faked.

    "The ghost of North Korea"

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/201242373036724717.html

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

      No doubt the North Koreans will threaten to set off another nuke unless they receive foreign aid in the form of 10,000 tons of fuel oil and ammonium nitrate. You know, for transport and fertiliser.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

      Actually faking a nuclear test isn't as ridiculous as it sounds.

      Britain faked H-bomb tests in the 50s:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-hbomb-tests-in-1957-were-a-bluff-research-shows-even-us-was-fooled-by-uk-claims-to-have-thermonuclear-weapon-1557484.html

      If you can fake an H-bomb with an A-bomb then it is not inconceivable to fake an A-bomb underground test, where the only confirmation comes from seismic monitoring.

      1. Psyx

        Re: Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

        "If you can fake an H-bomb with an A-bomb then it is not inconceivable to fake an A-bomb underground test, where the only confirmation comes from seismic monitoring."

        Faking it in the 50s is a little different from faking it today, when there are eyes on the area, though.

        Obviously being underground makes it a whole lot easier, but you can bet that there is little that's not being done to verify and analyse the blast.

      2. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

        Fission-derived isotopes were detected after the first test from as far away as Canada, so it was definitely nuclear.

        The real question this raises is why is North Korea so bad at making bombs? Every other country has been able to get 12-20kt out of their first nuclear test. NK's first test was 500t, their second 2.4kt, their third might be as much as 7kt.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Previous NK tests yeilded zero radioactivity

          Be very worried. Koreans are like that. Early Hyundais were pretty crap, then they were quite good, now they are heading up to be a world beating car maker.

          Before long North Korea will be selling really cheap but quite adequate nukes, the next thing is they will be offering to build a plant in the US to supply the American market, and recruiting all those unemployed nuclear engineers. Then every survival nut in the US will want their own H-bomb in case the bad guys also have one.

          I just hope to die of natural causes before the mass extinction event that will cause such puzzlement among the cockroaches when they eventually evolve civilisation.

          1. The Indomitable Gall

            Re: "Koreans are like that"

            There are some very major differences between North and South Korea -- to compare the two is just like dismissing the differences between West Germany (vorsprung durch technik) and East Germany (vault-spring durch espionage) in the 1980s.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Koreans are like that"

              I know that. The entire post is not to be taken seriously.

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

    With Al Qaeda dead and/or dying on the vine, is it only right and proper that a new bogeyman be invented for tormenting.

    Wake up, sleepy heads, to the reality of your sublime, sub-prime programming.

    This Informative is brought to you from the Office Space of CyberIntelAigent Security and Virtual Protection, and One and All are Free to Use IT as the Future decides IT and its Fitness to Be.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

      Welcome back! Feeling better today?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

        > Welcome back! Feeling better today?

        Has he had a major upgrade or overhaul or something? He's been making way more grammatical sense lately.

        Hopefully he's not going all Skynet on us though....

    2. LPF

      Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

      Your kind of stupidity is why Mars is a dead planet now!

    3. Psyx
      FAIL

      Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

      "With Al Qaeda dead and/or dying on the vine"

      I wished I lived in the alternative universe where that was true. But as far as I can see it there are more armed Islamic factions actively engaged in warfare in more parts of the world than there were ten years ago.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Reading between the battle lines .... for chaos rules

        I wished I lived in the alternative universe where that was true. But as far as I can see it there are more armed Islamic factions actively engaged in warfare in more parts of the world than there were ten years ago. ... Psyx Posted Wednesday 20th February 2013 11:35 GMT

        Has the West been arming them to justify fighting against them, Psyx, whenever homeland security systems respond to insurgence and undemocratic mobs baying for change which destroys everything they built over generations before ..... to be left in chaos with nothing working without foreign intervention and leadership.

        Sounds like a mighty fine, sinister Master Plan to take over whole nations to me, Psyx. Or is it a pioneering Eastern plot?

        Things are never as they seem or as how media presents them? That is the madness which prevails and makes fools of ignorant tools and tools of ignorant fools.

        1. Psyx
          Facepalm

          Re: Reading between the battle lines .... for chaos rules

          "Has the West been arming them to justify fighting against them, Psyx"

          No. Got any evidence otherwise?

          " ..... to be left in chaos with nothing working without foreign intervention and leadership. Sounds like a mighty fine, sinister Master Plan to take over whole nations to me, Psyx. Or is it a pioneering Eastern plot? Things are never as they seem or as how media presents them? That is the madness which prevails and makes fools of ignorant tools and tools of ignorant fools...."

          That's about 5,000 words short of the usual thing found scrawled on asylum walls.

          I'd lay off the caffeine.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

      With Al Qaeda dead and/or dying on the vine, is it only right and proper that a new bogeyman be invented for tormenting.

      Sadly, I suspect you're actually right on the button here. At present, signs are that the whole terrorist activity is now shifting to Africa, and while that shift is taking place, nothing happens that justifies the continuation of the massive budgets all the anti-terror setup have gotten comfortable with.

      Ergo the need for a new bogeyman. If nothing else, it will distract from the stark reality that practically nobody has been brought to justice for the real threat to our societies: Wall Street bankers and their supporting cast of well paid politicians.

      1. Psyx
        Stop

        Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

        "Sadly, I suspect you're actually right on the button here."

        WTF? No.

        It might have been out of the scope of tabloid headlines, but DPRK have been a major issue for about decades. In case you didn't notice, they are the reason the US still supports the use of land-mines and has spent untold millions stationing a crap-ton of troops in South Korea for the last 50 years. DPRK were fingered in the bombing of airliners and other terrorist activity over 30 years ago.

        Just because it's been outside of your own awareness, it doesn't mean that they're a 'new' threat or bogeyman in any way whatsoever, so far as Western governments are concerned. DPRK has always been a sabre-rattling bunch of maniacs. Remember a couple of years ago when they decided to shell South Korea? Or when they decided to torpedo a patrol boat? Or the last bunch of nuclear testing they did?

        "At present, signs are that the whole terrorist activity is now shifting to Africa, and while that shift is taking place,"

        Again: Old news. Terrorism and Islamic extremism has been a massive issue for 30 years. Lochabie bombing? Somalia? US bombing the crap out of Libya 20 years ago? That is not a new threat. At all.

        "nothing happens that justifies the continuation of the massive budgets all the anti-terror setup have gotten comfortable with.""

        Huh? In what way is the threat diminished. anti-terrorism budgets are there to combat domestic attacks. Please explain how there is less threat now than there was ten years ago. Are there currently either more or less people in the world who have been inspired by religion / pissed off enough / have nothing left to lose enough to consider attacking Western interests?

        "Ergo the need for a new bogeyman."

        Please tell me how North Korea threatening 'total annihilation' of South Korea and owning nuclear weapons justifies counter-terrorism spending.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

          I have always assumed that Locherbie was Iranian retaliation for a US missile cruiser shooting down an Iranian passenger aircraft - and for which nobody in the US was ever brought to trial, let alone convicted. Libya may have given the Iranians access, but surely it wasn't on their own account.

          Locherbie was nothing to do with Islamic terrorism and everything to do with a monstrous crime committed by the US. And I write that as someone who agrees 100% with Salman Rushdie on the Iranian theocracy.

          1. Psyx

            Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

            "I have always assumed that Locherbie was Iranian retaliation ... Libya may have given the Iranians access, but surely it wasn't on their own account."

            Why 'surely'?

            Iran weren't the only people hating on the West. Libya spent twenty years giving money to terrorists (including PIRA) independently of Iran. It was Libya, just like over a dozen other terrorist attacks in the West.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Tale spinning is the new breaking news ..... same as the old broken news

              "hating on" - I hate that Americanism.Just a thought.

              Iran doesn't hate the West. The Iranian Government has very anti-American elements in it, and some anti-British elements. Shooting down a passenger plane is likely to give ammunition to the anti-Americans who wanted to make a retaliatory gesture - but not so obviously that the US would then bomb them. One assumes it was meant to happen over water, leaving the cause as a mystery, but the bomb went off too soon.

              Libya supported PIRA because the PIRA told Quadhafi that they were Trotskyites and committed to world revolution. They forgot to mention the bit about Catholicism. Quadhafi thought he was helping liberate a small oppressed country from the Imperial yoke. There was logic, although crazy logic, in what he was doing. Bringing down a plane, what was the point of that?

        2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: Ranting and Raving

          Psyx, you do realise that you are outing yourself as a prime example of the efficacy of brainwashing aka Neuro-Linguistic Programming [NLP] ..... a MkUltra Sensitive Discipline for Manchurian Candidate type operations, trolls and shills?

          You do know how easy it is to make up news and spin a tall tale, surely? Did WMD in Iraq on a 45 minute trigger not teach you anything about everything? Oh well, I suppose that it just what the system relies on, .... ignorance and arrogance in spades which allows wonderful wacky wizards to cast their spells and feed their sells and cells. But hey, and I know it is only cold comfort, don't worry unduly about it, for you are certainly not alone with those thoughts.

          1. Psyx

            Re: Ranting and Raving

            "Psyx, you do realise that you are outing yourself as a prime example of the efficacy of brainwashing aka Neuro-Linguistic Programming [NLP] ..... a MkUltra Sensitive Discipline for Manchurian Candidate type operations, trolls and shills?"

            Brainwashing is not NLP.

            Nor does NLP owe anything to any of the alleged MKU experiments.

            "Oh well, I suppose that it just what the system relies on, .... ignorance and arrogance in spades which allows wonderful wacky wizards to cast their spells and feed their sells and cells. But hey, and I know it is only cold comfort, don't worry unduly about it, for you are certainly not alone with those thoughts."

            So you condemn people for being arrogant, but then arrogantly assert your own supremacy for being wise to conspiracy. Which is the crux of conspiracy theory really: The desire for control. The desire to somehow posses some inner knowledge that makes one superior and which makes everything ordered and controlled. Odd really that people would rather believe in malign strategy than they would in chaos and ill fortune.

            1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

              Re: Ranting and Raving .... with further comment on novel virtual control?

              Methinks, Psyx, really odd people would rather believe in malign strategy than they would in chaos and ill fortune because it then delivers the very exciting likelihood that the future is controlled and life for those into play in that great game are overwhelmingly more powerful than would normally be generally imagined ...... especially, and quite probably only, whenever they somehow possess some inner knowledge that enables them to exercise it with ...... well, Remote and Relatively Anonymous Virtually Real Cyber Command and Creative Control of Computers and Communications would be quite an ideal achievement and worthy aspiration in a world with myriad worlds of mediocrity and sub-prime toxicity.

              And we'll have to agree to disagree on the views that brainwashing is not NLP, nor does NLP owe anything to any of the alleged MKU experiments, for surely an increased awareness and super hyperactive psychotropic state can result from all of them.

              Thanks for the chats, Psyx, teasing and easing all of that out into the wild for further open source development. It is much appreciated.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    North Korea?

    Does that place still exist?

    I thought they had all crawled up the ass of the great leader and disappeared.

  6. Wzrd1

    Let's see now.

    Xenon-133 has a half-life of 5.2475(5) days.

    "The artificial isotope 135Xe is of considerable significance in the operation of nuclear fission reactors."

    A nuclear warhead is a sort of nuclear reactor, though on steroids to the point of *BANG*.

    Or is it boom.

    First off, it's not a natural isotope. Blast away at Earth with the chemical mixture of your choice to insanity's content, it'll not be released.

    Set off a nuke or vaporize a nuclear reactor or its rods, literally, find it in some quantity.

    Considering recent news cycle information, considering this result, considering overall reality of North Korea playing brinksmanship in a game that they cannot win if it became real, it is reality as usual.

    A group of idiots hoping China supports them in that which China wishes to not play in that game.

    And will be mutually treated as such, complete with potential sanctions.

    Much later.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Pump up the Volume, Stoke up the Fires of Paranoia, Feel the Heat and Reap the World Wide Whirlwinds

      :-) IT's Magic, Wzard1 .... but not as tele-vision shows it and news pimps and pumps and dumps it on the masses with sub optimal trails to toxic waste and crazy intelligence leads ...... false hopes in failed and fading dreams and vivid nightmares and mad fears?

    2. John Deeb
      Boffin

      Wzrd1 "Set off a nuke or vaporize a nuclear reactor or its rods, literally, find it in some quantity."

      Xenon-133 with its five days of half-life is a common medical isotope as well, not that difficult to produce by primitive research reactors (which NK has one probably operational but certainly available from partner in nuke Iran) or to import at various black markets (if you can transport it quickly enough).

      The point is that NK has just as much to gain from deception as from an actual nuclear explosion. The only difference is that deception might be the easier and cheaper route! This is why this story was interesting but the bet is well played in every case: nobody is going to take risks to call this type of bluff. But the political game is well understood and it's one that is always extremely defensive, calculating and deceptive. It always was like that.

    3. TeeCee Gold badge
      Mushroom

      I believe that the correct term for the effect of a nuclear warhead is; "KABOOM!!".

      The yield is identified by the number of trailing exclamation marks, so something like the Tsar Bomba gets; "KABOOM!!!111!!!!!!one!!11!!OMFG!"

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        "Kaboom"....?

        "I believe that the correct term for the effect of a nuclear warhead is; "KABOOM!!"."

        No, it's K. By the time the A starts, your eardrums have been vaporised. By the B, your genes have been torn apart to the point where even Findus wouldn't be able to tell the difference between you and horsemeat.

      2. hplasm Silver badge
        Mushroom

        The correct term-

        for the NK bombs so far seems to be PHUT!!!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    The Kim Dynasty

    Never underestimate the Kims. This has all the earmarks of a coverup.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Local G
    Happy

    The United States warned North Korea not to detonate a nuclear device.

    And they were so afraid of us that they didn't. (check memory hole for alternate version)

  10. The Jase

    Norks

    Having been up to the DMZ, you know the difference between the elite North Korean and South Korean guards there?

    The South are about 2 inches taller.

    The Elite Norks are still starving...

    1. Richard Wharram
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Norks

      Norks.

      Teehee

  11. David Pollard

    'Nature' simply made a mistake

    It looked to me as though the original report was of nothing more than a slight increase in background levels. There wasn't any data on xenon 135m and 133 levels which might have indicated if it was a plutonium or uranium device that had been set off. Nature probably removed their 'news' item when someone realised it how embarrassing it was and hoped no one would notice.

    1. Dave Bell

      Re: 'Nature' simply made a mistake

      Since the link to the original report simply puts up a log-in page, I confess to feeling a bit wary about this.

      What I wonder is where the raw data came from. Is it somebody jumping the gun, or what? Knowing how politics can warp what comes out of the think-tanks, I wonder what pushed this story out.

  12. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Mere deletion [...] would seem more sensible

    "Whether or not the story was in error, mere deletion rather than a correction alongside the original would seem more sensible than offering the world a chance to scour up copies of the original story to see what the fuss was all about."

    Sorry, but I don't understand that at all. In science, retractions should make at least as much of a splash as the original. Nature have presumably taken the view that no-one at all viewed the original article and therefore there is no mis-apprehension to correct. The fact that El Reg is able to dredge up the original story shows that this isn't the case and a proper retraction should have been posted.

  13. bearded bear can
    Childcatcher

    And what about that "stone" that crashed into Russia?

    Don't you see the obvious?!?!

    1. JohnG Silver badge

      Re: And what about that "stone" that crashed into Russia?

      In a poll on the RIA Novosti website, just over a third of voters apparently believe that the object over Chelyabinsk last week was some kind of US secret weapon.

  14. Silverburn

    We played this wrong.

    When we (the civilised world) declared we were going to test for evidence of the detonation, then later admitted we'd found jack shit, we ended up looking stupid.

    What we should have done was use NK's own tactics against them, and just made some shit up. Like:

    "oh yeah, we found *tons* of Xenon-133 in the atmosphere. Definitely. We should therefore crush the evil communist devils under our mighty tank tracks and free the world from their nuclear menace."

    It worked for Iraq and WMD...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: We played this wrong.

      Surely the correct response would be to say our nuclear explosion detectors said that there was no explosion. Nothing to see here, no problem.

      As for the Iraq thing, you do realise that Iraq did have WMDs. It's not as if they had any great intelligence of what Iraq had, they simply took the figures from the UN inspectors in the 1990s (mostly of what they'd bought or produced), subtracted what the inspectors had found and destroyed and took the remainder to be the current stockpile.

      Despite the crap about 45 minutes, if you read the original dossier from the UK government, that's pretty much all it said. I read a history of the early Cold War just after reading it, and it was amazing just how little intel they had on Soviet Union with which to form policy. And clear from that, just how little they seemed to have on Iraq too. The book was by Peter Hennessy called 'The Secret State' - which I highly recommend. It was quite an eye-opener on the early Cold War stuff - and I'm even more amazed that we didn't have an accidental nuclear war, given the confusion.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We played this wrong.

        "I read a history of the early Cold War just after reading it, and it was amazing just how little intel they had on Soviet Union with which to form policy."

        Wrong way around - the policy was decided on and the intel made to fit. My personal highlight was the CIA showing Kennedy multiple shots of the same ICBM silo in the USSR taken at different angles and seasons to make him believe that they were a credible threat when in fact, as far as anyone could tell, that was the only operational silo they actually had at the time.

        The pentagon staff didn't get the salaries they have today by waiting around for actual threats to show up (although they are welcome when they do, of course).

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: We played this wrong.

          Wrong way around - the policy was decided on and the intel made to fit.

          Robert,

          I assumed when I read that sentence, you were going to talk about Iraq. Because it doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone that Iraq could have destroyed its remaining WMD stockpiles, or that maybe the UN inspectors had over-estimated how much they'd made before the 90s. Although the latter seems unlikely as they had purchase and manufacturing data.

          I wasn't aware of that story about the Soviet ICBMs. However, the CIA's threat estimates were surely correct. Given that the USSR had a massive nuclear force. They may have got the timing slightly wrong in the deployment of a new ICBM, but it's not as if the Soviets didn't then go on to build lots of them.

          Also it was the CIA (and MI6) that got the data to Kennedy that the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces weren't ready for war - during the Cuban missile crisis. That was intel from Oleg Penkovsky. Given the danger involved, what's scary is how little political intelligence both sides had. In the case of the West we were finding things out about the military all the time, but the Soviet political system was opaque. Unless something comes out that's still secret, our highest sources appear to have been KGB or military and not political. Weirdly most of the information the Soviets needed was totally open to them, but the KGB don't seem to have been passing that on to their political masters - either due to groupthink, self-interest, stupidity or something else.

      2. Steen Hive

        Re: We played this wrong.

        "As for the Iraq thing, you do realise that Iraq did have WMDs"

        Maybe they'd actually used up the ones 'we' sold them while arming both sides in the Iran-Iraq war?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: We played this wrong.

          Maybe they'd actually used up the ones 'we' sold them while arming both sides in the Iran-Iraq war?

          Steen Hive,

          Ah yes, the old bollocks. Don't bother finding out the facts, it's all the West's fault...

          Not that we're totally blameless, and certainly having screwed up in Iran it looks like an equally bad decision was made to try and contain Iran by supporting Iraq. But for some factual background:

          Iraq used Russian rifles and pistols. Iraq had Russian artillery and rocket launchers. Iraq used Russian SAMs and anti-aircraft guns. They used Russian radars, tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and other military vehicles. Iraq had FROG and SCUD missiles (shall I tell you where they bought them? Yup, Russia.). They then had some upgraded SCUDs with the range to hit Israel (which they built/modified themselves). Now when it came to the air-force they had MiG and Sukhoi aircraft, and Russian helicopters, but yep, they did have some nice French Mirages as well. And it was Chirac that sold them the nuclear reactor that Israel bombed in the 80s. Co-incidentally it was France and Russia that vetoed most attempts to tighten sanctions throughout the 90s (and of course war in 2003) and that French and Russian officials (amongst others) were taking bribes in the form of UN oil export credits.

          I believe that German companies sold Iraq a bunch of machine tools and chemicals plant. Which were used in the process of making chemical weapons. But that stuff could have been, and was, used in the Iraqi civilian economy for things like making fertilizer. No-one (not even the Russians) sold the Iraqis their chemical weapons, they built them themselves. Even after whatever happened to their remaining stockpiles in the late 90s had happened, Iraq still had the know-how to rebuild their chemical arsenal. As for the biological stuff, I don't think they ever managed to weaponise that successfully.

          So nope, the US didn't arm Iraq in the 1980s, although they also didn't stop them arming. The Kuwaitis in particular (along with the other Gulf states) did loan them loads of cash to buy Russian weapons - I guess Kuwait didn't fancy having Iran as a neighbour. The French sold them multiple billions worth of kit (mostly aeroplanes), but the Russians were their main weapons supplier. I know we in the UK sold them some stuff, not sure if it was dual-use or actual military stuff, but I think they had a couple of British patrol boats. The Americans didn't supply much stuff at all. Also Iraq bought some of its kit via Syria and Jordan, to confuse the issue further.

          However, no-one sold Iraq any chemical weapons. They built those themselves. I've still not seen anything to say what happened to the stuff the UN inspectors didn't destroy in the 90s. It would seem that there was some stuff found dangerously corroded that were leftovers from the Iran-Iraq or 1991 wars. And Iraq declared some sites when it signed up to the convention on chemical weapons, but they got bombed and were too dangerous to inspect, let alone clean up. I wonder if we'll find out when the Syrian regime collapses? Did Saddam destroy them, given them away, or did the UN Inspectors over-estimate the stockpiles?

          1. Steen Hive
            FAIL

            Re: We played this wrong.

            Total comprehension fail. Where did I mention "the West" or "the US"? "We" was in quotes, see?

            That said we know the US sold arms to Iran and issued 771 dual-use technology export licenses, and that the UK & Germany sold pralidoxine and VX precursors to Iraq, as well as biological agents, up to 1992.

            Furthermore, the UN didn't over-estimate anything leading up to the 2003 invasion They estimated zero.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We played this wrong.

      You f**ked that up when you said 'We (the civilised world) ... which world would that be then? Surely not American with it's lunatic religious nuts ... nothing civilised about believing in ghosts and shit.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: We played this wrong. (@AC 11:44)

        Be careful where you're lobbing stones. At least the USA-ians don't tend toward the belief of fairies in the garden. You have your nutters, we have ours.

        Although to be fair, your fairies aren't telling people to go bomb 3rd world countries.

  15. bonkers

    Streisand effect?

    What has this story got to do with staring at the back of a spoon and noticing that you look like Barbara Streisand?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Jan 0
    Holmes

    How did they measure the <sup>133</sup>Xe?

    Presumably the North Koreans didn't release the map of 133Xe concentrations? Unless some North Korean leaked the data, this report doesn't ring true. Since 133Xe emits β- , which will be rapidly attenuated in the atmosphere, satellite observation doesn't seem promising*. I guess that North Korea takes steps to ensure that other nations can't fly over North Korea to take atmospheric samples?

    *unless North Korea is so dark at night, that a satellite can measure atmospheric Cherenkov radiation.

    1. David Pollard

      Re: How did they measure the 133Xe?

      There's a description of the SAUNA equipment developed for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty here. This looks to be beyond the capacity of most casual observers.

      http://144.206.159.178/ft/787/183944/4699966.pdf

      The technology is remarkable: initial capture using activated charcoal, concentration and separation using gas chromatography and a molecular sieve, then analysis with a carefully shielded dual scintillation beta gamma coincidence detector..

      1. Eddie Edwards
        Joke

        Re: How did they measure the 133Xe?

        Yeah but the coincidence detector goes haywire every time the Heart of Gold flies past.

  17. cortland
    Mushroom

    The simple answer is

    NK set off 7.5 million buried tons of TNT and *claimed* it was a nuke.

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/hlmencke129796.html

    Or Duke Nukem has struck again.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The simple answer is

      Presumably you'd use a fuel-air explosive mixture in a sealed tunnel. As opposed to a nuke in a sealed tunnel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The simple answer is

        Lots of mining explosive would do the job. Basically oil and an oxidising agent. Getting 10kt yield out of a fuel air mixture would require a very, very big cavern, about 1/50 of a cubic kilometre. The requirements for mining explosive are much more modest.

        Perhaps that's why the North Koreans train all those people in mass gymnastics; the North Korean Bomb will weigh about 10 kilotonnes and have to be lugged down South on a huge trailer pulled by the entire population, possibly shaped like a very large horse. They're working on the basis that the border guards won't suspect several million people pulling a big cart all the way to the centre of Seoul, before they all run off in various directions.

        As a plot it sucks, but then the North Korean government is delusional.

  18. Downside
    FAIL

    I'd annoy NK a bit more

    I'd insult the NK's a bit more, get them to use up ALL their stockpile of weapons grade fissile material in ever bigger underground tests. That would leave them with nothing to threaten anyone with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd annoy NK a bit more

      Isn't NK China's Israel? When China wants to annoy the West, don't they call Pyongyang with instructions? And when China condemns NK, they are no more serious than we are when we criticize Israel.

      Living next door to China, NK can get all the fizzy stuff they need.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In short..

    .. no glowing reviews for "Nature" this month.

    There, I said it.

  20. another_vulture

    radionuclides

    CTBTO detected radionuclides after the 2006 test, but not after the 2009 test, and lots of folks think the 2009 test was faked. There is not yet a report of radionuclide detection for the 2013 test, but we need to wait a few more days at least before we get a definite statement from CTBTO. My guess is this one was also a fake.

    They were observed to have dug two tunnels. My guess is that one has a real A-bomb, while the other was filled with conventional explosive. The real test failed and they then blew the conventional bomb as a cover-up. This was not to fool the world, but rather to fool the upper echelon of NK, to avoid being executed for failure. It is not possible to fake the radionuclide signature, which is not just Xenon 133. It is, however, just possible that an underground test completely seals all of the cracks and that there is therefore no radionuclide signature at all.

  21. Knochen Brittle
    Mushroom

    Oh Happy Day ... the World MafiaPoliceMan just took a Nuke to the knee

    .. further cramping that PeeNACker ideological swagger to more of an arthritic hop ";0))

    Cue much deflationary baaawwing from the Blowhard Bryant-class WMBs [White Man's Burdenites].

    Congratulations to DPRK on fielding the only 'legal argument' today's cloth-eared NATO warcrims care to comprehend -- a verified readiness to pack their already prolapsing jacksies with a fissile punch at the first sign of trying on any business-as-usual aggression.

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