Confirmed by space radar: North Korea's nuclear test site collapsed

Study: Radar imaging shows how the mountain collapsed after North Korea’s most recent nuclear test

As North Korea’s president pledges to “denuclearize” the Korean peninsula, an international team of scientists is publishing the most detailed view yet of the site of the country’s latest and largest underground nuclear test on Sept. 3, 2017.

The new picture of how the  altered the mountain above the detonation highlights the importance of using satellite radar imaging, called SAR (synthetic aperture radar), in addition to seismic recordings to more precisely monitor the location and yield of nuclear tests in North Korea and around the world.

The researchers—Teng Wang, Qibin Shi, Shengji Wei and Sylvain Barbot from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Douglas Dreger and Roland Bürgmann from the University of California, Berkeley, Mehdi Nikkhoo from the German Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, Mahdi Motagh from the Leibniz Universität Hannover, and Qi-Fu Chen from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing—will report their results online this week in advance of publication in the journal Science.

Fig. 1
Three-dimensional (3D) displacement associated with the 3 September 2017 North Korean Nuclear Test (NKNT 6).
(A) 3D displacements derived from radar imagery with arrows indicating horizontal, color indicating vertical motions spanning the explosion and ~1 week of additional deformation. The uncertainties are shown in fig. S4 and provided in data S1 with the displacements. Black outline derived from ALOS-2 coherence loss indicates the substantial surface disturbance and large displacement gradients caused by the explosion over an area of ~9 km2 (figs. S1 and S2). Thin gray lines are topographic contours at 100-m intervals. Red square in the upper right inset shows the location of Mt. Mantap. Red stars indicate the locations of NKNT 1-5 (1, 6, 9, 15, 37), among which NKNT 2-5 were all located within the NKNT-6 low-coherence region, NKNT 1 on 9 October 2006 was in a different location (5). Beach balls show locations and focal mechanisms of the Mw 5.24 and Mw 4.47 events on 3 September 2017. (B and C) 2D (horizontal along the profile and vertical) displacements along two profiles across the top of Mt Mantap from north to south, and from west to east respectively. The elevations along the vertical axis in (B) and (C) are on scale.

That explosion took place under Mt. Mantap at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the country’s north, rocking the area like a 5.2-magnitude earthquake. Based on  from global and regional networks, and before-and-after radar measurements of the ground surface from Germany’s TerraSAR-X and Japan’s ALOS-2 radar imaging satellites, the team showed that the underground nuclear blast pushed the surface of Mt. Mantap outward by as much as 11 feet (3.5 meters) and left the mountain about 20 inches (0.5 meters) shorter.

By modelling the event on a computer, they were able to pinpoint the location of the explosion, directly under the mile-high summit, and its depth, between a quarter and a third of a mile (400-600 meters) below the peak.

They also located more precisely another seismic event, or aftershock, that occurred 8.5 minutes after the nuclear explosion, putting it some 2,300 feet (700 meters) south of the bomb blast. This is about halfway between the site of the nuclear detonation and an access tunnel entrance and may have been caused by the collapse of part of the tunnel or of a cavity remaining from a previous nuclear explosion.

“This is the first time the complete three-dimensional surface displacements associated with an underground nuclear test were imaged and presented to the public,” said lead author Teng Wang of the Earth Observatory of Singapore at Nanyang Technological University.

Read more at:


From Science Magazine, the paper:

The rise, collapse, and compaction of Mt. Mantap from the 3 September 2017 North Korean nuclear test


Surveillance of clandestine nuclear tests relies on a global seismic network, but the potential of spaceborne monitoring has been underexploited. Here, we determined the complete surface displacement field of up to 3.5 m of divergent horizontal motion with 0.5 m of subsidence associated with North Korea’s largest underground nuclear test using satellite radar imagery. Combining insight from geodetic and seismological remote sensing, we found that the aftermath of the initial explosive deformation involved subsidence associated with sub-surface collapse and aseismic compaction of the damaged rocks of the test site. The explosive yield from the nuclear detonation with seismic modeling for 450m depth was between 120-304 kt of TNT equivalent. Our results demonstrate the capability of spaceborne remote sensing to help characterize large underground nuclear tests.


Fig. 2
Model geometry and fit to the observed surface displacements.
(A) Perspective view of the model with topography and variance reductions as a function of centroid position (both cross-sections are centered on the best fit location). We represent the first event, combining the explosion and immediate collapse, using a sphere of 300 m radius with a centroid located at a depth about 450 m below Mt Mantap. We model the aseismic subsidence detected with geodetic data about a week after the seismic events 1 and 2 with an ellipsoid of dimension 800 × 800 × 470 m semi-axes, centered at 100 m deeper than the explosive source. The isotropic components of the moment tensors are represented as beach balls. (B) The observed and simulated surface displacements. (C) The west-east and south-north profiles of the surface displacements from the SAR observations and the best-fitting models. The dashed profiles represent the contributions of the explosion/collapse (Event 1) and the subsequent aseismic compaction on the surface displacement. We ignore the deformation caused by Event 2.


Fig. 3
Analysis of seismic waves.
(A) Station map of broadband seismometers with four stations in (B) and (D) highlighted in red. The black and red stars are the epicenter location of the first and second event, respectively. (B) Moment tensor solutions for the first explosive (left) and the second implosive (right) event, with vertical component of two representative stations shown at the bottom. Both data and synthetics are filtered between 0.02 and 0.045 Hz. Station names are shown at the beginning of waveform pairs and distance (in km) and azimuth (in degree) are indicated below. (C) Grid search result (under L1 norm) for relocating the second event relative to the first event (black star). Marginal distribution for the epicentral position are plotted along the northing and easting axes. (D) Vertical component waveform comparison between the first (black) and the second (red) event at two representative stations, with the second event waveforms multiplied by -60. (E) Explosive yield with historical nuclear tests. The black dots and error bars show yields estimated based on the mean and standard deviation of tabulated moment within 95% of the best fitting solutions with depths of 300, 450 and 600 m respectively.

Combining the available space-borne geodetic and seismic records provided new insights into the mechanics of deformation surrounding North Korea’s sixth underground nuclear test, revealing the explosion, collapse, and subsequent compaction sequence (Fig. 4). The modeling of the geodetic observations reduces the epicentral and depth uncertainties that otherwise hinder the analysis of seismic waveforms. The derived horizontal location of the first event is important to relatively relocate the second event, which likely indicates the collapse of the tunnel system of the test site. The inclusion of geodetic data also helps resolving the aseismic deformation processes that may follow nuclear tests. Finally, our findings demonstrate the capability of monitoring shallow underground nuclear tests using remote-sensing observations and seismic sensors.

Fig. 4
Summary deformation scenario for the 3 September 2017 North Korea’s Nuclear test.
The unfolding of events includes the succession of (A) explosive, (B) collapse, and (D) compaction processes, with different associated surface displacements. The implosive source (C) may be shallow and only contribute localized surface displacements. The radar imagery reveals the deformation (arrows in (D)] resulting from the three processes.
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May 10, 2018 11:17 am

I wondered why his sudden interest in letting it all go.

Reply to  Sunsettommy
May 10, 2018 11:41 am

I think North Korea’s overtures are a ruse. Kim Jong Un has achieved his goal of developing a nuclear weapon, he’s not going to give it up. Now he wants economic assistance. The thought that he is going to give up his nuclear development is nothing more than a shiny distraction to get the world powers to come to the negotiating table.

Reply to  SMC
May 10, 2018 11:47 am

I hope that the Trump administration won’t make a deal that doesn’t include verifiable Nork denuking, with free range, no notice inspections of suspicious sites.
China has already backed off its sanctions, so just offering to talk has achieved part of Kim’s goals.

Reply to  SMC
May 10, 2018 11:51 am


T. Fry
Reply to  SMC
May 10, 2018 12:52 pm

They might be, but Trump has shown that he’s no dummy at negotiating, repeatedly.
Having been stationed in South Korea and having some exposure to how things work in the North, recent events with Un and North Korea are extraordinary. I think they are getting extremely desperate to simply keep the country running.

Reply to  SMC
May 10, 2018 12:53 pm

Aw come on.
The guys heading for socialism.
Nothing but rampant Capitalism will satisfy him.
Ruling a nation whilst unbelievably wealthy, AND popular?
What manically deranged despot could resist?
Seriously, gotta give the wee shite a chance, at least.

Reply to  SMC
May 10, 2018 1:03 pm

I agree. I also think that time is on our side in that there is a good chance that their region of the world will be negatively impacted in the years ahead by severely cold winters. That will complicate food security for the region for Russia, China, and the NK. All of the nations which sit around the region where the deep cold sets in every winter in Siberia will be impacted, imo.
Patience then , would be the best strategy going forward. Don’t give them what they want at this time. Wait until nature squeezes them, as then they can not lay blame on the US through the international media.

Reply to  SMC
May 12, 2018 3:33 pm

Fox News is reporting that No Korea is planning to blow up their test site prior to the Singapore meeting. No mention that this may be a cover-up for the site having already been blown up! News agencies don’t have this info, yet?

J Mac
May 10, 2018 11:20 am

Mercy! I wonder if we’ll ever how many people died in that Kim Jong Un-necessary disaster?

J Mac
Reply to  J Mac
May 10, 2018 11:22 am

….ever ‘know’ how many…

Reply to  J Mac
May 10, 2018 1:01 pm

J Mac
There are no ‘people’ in N. Korea, just Komrads.
Y’see, it’s a bit like ISIS. All deaths are for the common good.
Unless of course, one is a member of the privileged few, for which death never comes, merely immortality in stone. And unimaginable family wealth at the expense of the Komrads…….in arms, that is. Despite removing oneself from the battlefield at the earliest opportunity, to spend said unimaginable wealth.
Syphilis anyone?

Reply to  J Mac
May 10, 2018 1:07 pm

From what I have read there were several hundred deaths in the initial cave-in. Then there were 200 more killed during a rescue operation. They did not attempt a second rescue mission. But who knows, if that was the full extent.

Reply to  goldminor
May 10, 2018 1:08 pm

I wonder if they lost some of their key scientists?

May 10, 2018 11:21 am

Dear old Kim, making a molehill out of a mountain.

Reply to  ShrNfr
May 10, 2018 12:47 pm

Good, made me chuckle.

Reply to  ShrNfr
May 10, 2018 1:08 pm


May 10, 2018 11:21 am

Rods from God …
Thank you, President Trump!

Robbie Depp
Reply to  kenji
May 10, 2018 12:26 pm

Could be…or just a strike from USS Jimmy Carter. Lots of stuff goes on we’ll never hear about. To get Kim to negotiate, it would be important that the army leaders were also killed. Kim has been given opportunities to appear more humane, such as the Olympics, photo-ops, release of hostages, etc. Grain of salt, of course.

Reply to  Robbie Depp
May 10, 2018 1:15 pm

Robbie Depp
Interesting, assuming the timings were right.
Who knows what goes on under the covers of international diplomacy. Could Kim complain he suffered a nuclear strike on an illegal nuclear facility? Would satellites pick the strike up, and would confirmation be released if they did?
What a delicious way of forcing a nasty little despot to negotiations. F**k him up the arse quietly, then smile and wave as he approaches the table.
Complete fantasy, I know. But nice thought.

Tom Halla
May 10, 2018 11:26 am

If it was at the high end of the estimate of 120 to 304 kt, the bomb was probably thermonuclear.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 10, 2018 11:45 am

Probably, although the US tested a 500 Kt HEU implosion fission bomb:
At 60 kg of U, it was very wasteful of fissile material.

The Original Mike M
May 10, 2018 11:31 am

Things were much simpler back in the “good” ole days, we just set ’em off in the ocean!comment image

Reply to  The Original Mike M
May 10, 2018 2:30 pm

Yes, I remember that one quite well. Saw it in boot camp and a nicely done special FX movie following the first one. The Bikini lagoon site is still radioactive but full of fish – lots of fish of all kinds and other sea creatures.
Okay, da Fat Boy Kim is out of cash. Whatever his Den of Thieves stole last year and the year before from government bank accounts – he has an entire group devoted to such things – he is out of cash. Nukes cost money to build. Yes, he does have uranium ore and he does have mountains, but when he chose to pop that cork underground, instead of above ground, his badly science guys underestimated the shock wave from a 0.5 megaton detonation and the facility collapsed in on itself. There were USGS reports of a 5.9M quake from it. 5.2 sounds like a revised estimate, but that original report may have included the effect of a landslide that occurred shortly after the detonation. There were photographs, but they seem to have gone bye-bye.
The real problem is that the Dork of the Nork did not truly understand what he was messing with when he started this gallop toward being a nuclear bomb nation. Maybe he thought he could sell the things to Iran or someone else. The upshot of it is that he is out of cash. His Army troops are literally starving. They are far too thin and loaded with parasites because human waste is being used as fertilizer on the fields. His mismanagement of the whole thing is glaringly obvious, and he knows it, because he was “privileged” to go to school in Switzerland, outside the boundaries of that closeted kingdom. He is out of cash, and is looking for a way to get some flowing again.
It’s also possible that Trump told him ‘Knock it off, Junior, or else.”

Reply to  Sara
May 10, 2018 5:14 pm

The Bikini lagoon site is still radioactive but full of fish – lots of fish of all kinds and other sea creatures.

It’s the ‘other sea creatures’ swimming in the radioactive lagoon that you need to worry about.comment image

May 10, 2018 11:32 am

The Trump effect lives!!!!

May 10, 2018 11:50 am

At least NK confirmed it is feasible to conduct mining and excavation work with nuclear bombs. Decades ago it was kicked around as an idea but now we have the real test.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
May 10, 2018 11:55 am

The Soviets used nuclear explosives on construction projects.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
May 10, 2018 12:37 pm

RG: The USA’s Plowshare Program definitely proved a nuclear bomb can evacuate a very large hole. I took the RERO (radiological emergency response) course at the Nevada Test site in the late ’70s and stood at the edge of the Sedan shot. It is a most impressive hole especially when you realize it was just one explosion. Tour guides would bet no one could hit the center of the crater with a thrown rock. None that tried could do it. As noted further down, some contamination via the chimney put the kibosh on the idea of using nukes to build a new Panama canal.

Reply to  aGrimm
May 10, 2018 12:50 pm

I’m not surprised at the collapse/shift of the mountain. If you look at the Sedan shot picture in the link above, you will see a bunch of craters due to the collapse of earth above the blast cavity. We do not know if the tunnel collapse involved any of the Nork’s major monitoring and analysis equipment or if it killed any critical nuclear personnel, but this mountain is not where they design and build the nukes.

Richard Kiser
May 10, 2018 11:51 am

So, in other words they destroyed their nuclear site before negotiating terms. Brilliant!

Reply to  Richard Kiser
May 10, 2018 12:18 pm

Perhaps the explosion rendered their nuclear site unusable and that is what prompted them to come to the bargaining table.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 10, 2018 12:24 pm

They could however keep testing missiles. The Norks haven’t yet perfected their reentry system.
IMO Chinese pressure and the threat of US attack has at least temporarily interrupted their ballistic missile test program.

NW sage
Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 11, 2018 5:41 pm

They may also have lost a bunch of important scientists making it difficult or impossible to continue the program in a reasonable time (like before the people starve). A graceful exit may be the best possible result – for N Korea and for the rest of the world.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Richard Kiser
May 10, 2018 12:32 pm

Their next test site has been assessed as high atmospheric riding on a ballistic missile to the edge of space.
Wo-Fat Kim-boy’s Foreign Minister actually threatened a high altitude burst over the Pacific.

“North Korea could test a powerful nuclear weapon over the Pacific Ocean in response to US President Donald Trump’s threats of military action, the country’s foreign minister has warned.”

Of course, this would likely generate a huge EMP burst, and trigger a strong military response from Japan and the US.

Reply to  Richard Kiser
May 10, 2018 12:57 pm

RK: remember this mountain is not where they design and build the nukes. NK does not have a lot of good areas to test bombs, so if this site is beyond salvage, it will slow down their nuke development. I see the situation as analogous to Iran: nuke program slowed but not stopped as evidenced by the recent Israeli intelligence coup.

May 10, 2018 11:56 am

All very interesting but is it really germane to WUWTs core raison d’être?

Reply to  Leo Smith
May 10, 2018 12:01 pm

Nuclear war would have some effect on WX, if not climate.

J Mac
Reply to  Leo Smith
May 10, 2018 12:03 pm

Keep them coming, Anthony!
I find the science very interesting!

Reply to  Leo Smith
May 10, 2018 1:12 pm

Other topics are covered here. It has always been that way.

Reply to  goldminor
May 10, 2018 2:28 pm

Good work much appreciated. Thank you, Anthony.

Reply to  Leo Smith
May 10, 2018 1:28 pm

Just had the same debate about Tesla car fires on another WUWT post.
I believe, from another, that Anthony’s blog is devoted to science, not just climate science.
And anything else Anthony finds interesting, it’s his blog, we are merely guests.

Reply to  Leo Smith
May 10, 2018 1:31 pm

Leo: stories like this, a non-climate story, allow experts from other science fields to share info that does impact climate studies. I have had the pleasure to provide basic radiation information such as: how a form of radiation imparts its energy to a molecule, how that energy is transferred, and other radiation information concerning the CO2 molecule when said molecule receives radiative energy. Basic radiative effects and outcomes are crucial to the “CO2 stores heat” debate. Many here are not well versed in radiation effects thus “off topic” articles oft times provide a forum to help educate. There are quite a few posters here who are well versed in radiation and its effects, and I recommend learning from all of them. You name the science and there is some impact on climate seen in all of the sciences. Each impact needs to be incorporated into the climate studies. From my perspective, the radiative reactions and effects often appear to be poorly understood by some climate scientists.
Anthony, et al: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: you folks are magnificent!

May 10, 2018 12:14 pm

After reading a couple of articles on this I began to wonder if this could cause further seismic activity in the region.
The point I also wonder about is how much of the research and development infrastructure was destroyed in this “event”. Did they accidentally destroy much of what they needed to continue making bombs? An odd chain of events, to say the least.

Reply to  2hotel9
May 10, 2018 1:40 pm

Seismic activity, nuclear weapons, climate change?
Can’t you see how these three are indisputably intertwined to cause cataclysmic polar melting, instantaneous sea level rise and, of course, the eruption of all naturally sequestered CO2 into the atmosphere which will further heat the planet to a glowing red blob.
Quick, shred this post before the Guardian and the NYT get wind of it!
And don’t speak of this to anyone.

Reply to  HotScot
May 10, 2018 6:43 pm

Ya mean like the pyramid on Venus in Total Recall? That would be pretty cool. 😉
I am under the impression that the region this mountain is in has rather active tectonic faults already. Just asking the local geology professionals here if it could. Is it deep enough or close enough to an active fault to trigger anything?

Reply to  HotScot
May 10, 2018 6:44 pm

My son points out it was Mars, not Venus. Oh, well.

Reply to  2hotel9
May 11, 2018 7:26 am

“2hotel9 May 10, 2018 at 12:14 pm
Did they accidentally destroy much of what they needed to continue making bombs?”
Excellent question. In addition, was there a loss of scientists, i.e. a brain drain during this event? It appears they were successful, and thus NKorea is now a nuclear nation… but if they destroyed their equipment and lost scientists in the process, that novelty could have been lost at the same time.

Reply to  RM25483
May 12, 2018 7:53 am

Another thought on the loss of needed personnel, I have wondered just how rigorous their operational safety standards are. Reports have surfaced that defectors had varying degrees of radiation poisoning. Could they also have killed themselves through carelessness and/or stupidity? And were there ancillary tunnels/passages between sections of primary test site and other facilities? They well could have been blowing radioactive dust throughout their entire complex. One last speculation, could individuals in the program have facilitated extensive contamination and covered it up from within? Trapped in Hell what lengths do the damned go to in order to strike back at their tormentors?

Joel O’Bryan
May 10, 2018 12:15 pm

The chimney of rubble collapsing into the detonation void of course is highly radioactive from fission daughter particle decay. Also in this debris is dust that contains the vaporized and deposited un-fissioned plutonium.
Probably 10 kilograms or more of Pu-239 mixed and re-deposited in the debris. Assuming the Pu pit was roughly 20 kg of Plutonium, and probably at best 1/3 fissioned into daughter nuclides, this leaves more than 10 Kg of Pu-239 with a half-life of 24,110 years. Thus due to forcing of explosive hot gasses into natural fissures and tunnels, the remaining, un-fissioned Pu is an extreme inhalation hazard for any mining attempt to work in the mountain. The high-level radioactive nuclides will decay over a few years, but the Pu-239 is there to stay for essentially forever.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 10, 2018 12:32 pm

If the test were a small thermonuclear device (fission-fusion-fission) rather than a big fission explosion, then there probably would have been less Pu and more HEU and DU. Typically an H-bomb gets about half its energy from fusion and half from fission, mainly in the DU jacket, but also in the fission trigger.
The 21-kt Fat Man used 14# (6.4 kg) of Pu. Modern core designs can contain eight or possibly even fewer pounds of Pu. The actual amount is classified.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Felix
May 10, 2018 12:39 pm

The assessed ~150 Kt yield of the Sept 3, 2017 device suggests boosted fission. That is a D-T gas injection into the pit for which Kim claims fusion.

Reply to  Felix
May 10, 2018 3:03 pm

I’m of that opinion, but some intelligence services have concluded that Kim actually has small but real, ie three-step, fission-fusion-fission thermonukes. He has a lot of DU from his U enrichment program.
The rule of thumb is to multiply the trigger yield by 11 to get the total yield, ie 220 kt from a 20 kt trigger. The standard Russian strategic warhead yields 550 kt from a 50 kt, boosted trigger. But Nork H-bombs might not be that efficient.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
May 10, 2018 1:45 pm

Chernobyl melts and we Scots go into panic mode because our sheep are eating grass contaminated by nuclear fallout (Eh!?)
Kim Jong Fuglyhaircut sets off a nuclear device and no one says anything about the fallout transported across the globe on the jetstream.
Where are our glowing sheep this time round?

Reply to  HotScot
May 10, 2018 1:52 pm

“no one says anything about the fallout transported across the globe on the jetstream.”
That’s because Kim Jong Un smartly detonated his devices underground. When you do that, the radiation is contained. There was no “fallout” from his explosions.

Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
May 10, 2018 2:21 pm

Ralph Dave Westfall
But a nuclear power station, melting, not exploding, by all accounts was the worst thing that ever happened since Nagasaki.
Give me peace.

Reply to  HotScot
May 10, 2018 5:50 pm

Ralph Dave Westfall
Cratering, collapse, subsidence all tend to wreak havoc on containment, if the nuclear event didn’t fracture rock to the surface to begin with.
more info on containment

Reply to  HotScot
May 10, 2018 8:22 pm

“But a nuclear power station, melting, not exploding, by all accounts was the worst thing that ever happened since Nagasaki.”
Bomb fallout pretty much decays to zero in about twenty-five years. Reactor fallout is less intense at first, but hangs around for much longer.
One of the biggest risks in a war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact was either side targeting the other side’s reactors and throwing very long-lived fallout clouds into the air. It could have made many areas uninhabitable for centuries or more.

Reply to  MarkG
May 11, 2018 1:36 am

Chernobyl is doing pretty well considering its only been 30 years or so, and the exclusion zone has now been opened to tourists. Some families have moved back into the area, and some never left.
I wouldn’t be happy moving back in for the reasons you give, but the long term effects on these people remains to be seen.
The most common effect seems to be Thyroid cancer amongst children: “Due in largest part from the ingestion of contaminated dairy products along with the inhalation of the short-lived and therefore highly radioactive isotope, Iodine-131” – Wikipedia (sorry, hate using it but it gives an overview). The worst effect seems to be mental health from exaggerated fears about the effects of radiation.

May 10, 2018 12:16 pm

I think this is the reason China wants him out. The radiaton is a threat to them. They want to make sure that this will be fixed asap.

Reply to  Scarface
May 10, 2018 12:22 pm

China doesn’t want Kim out, or at least doesn’t want North Korea to unite with the RoK. China and Russia both want Kim to keep threatening the US, but Xi has to play along with sanctions a little in order to avoid a trade war, or worse yet, suffer Chinese banks being cut off from the US dollar.
If China wanted Kim gone, he’d have been long gone.

Reply to  Felix
May 10, 2018 2:17 pm

My naive belief is that the only reason China supports N. Korea is, it doesn’t want a US military base on the border. N. Korea serves as a nice little buffer zone between it and S. Korea.
The fact ICBM’s respect no borders seems to completely pass them by, because of course, an invasion of China would take place across the skinny peninsula that is N. Korea, and it would be by blokes in WW2 battle gear waving the star spangled banner.
Perhaps Kim is the bright one here thinking “I aint putting up with this shit no more”. F**k you me old China, I’m off.
Nor am I sure China cares about the US dollar, it has enslaved its population before, and still runs the government on communist principles, sprinkled with a little capitalist opportunity to keep the population happy, momentarily.
Not that for a moment do I believe China has any aggressive intentions, it never really has (OK, it had it’s differences with Japan, but who hasn’t). But a bit like Germany (the allies won WW2, but Germany seems to be reaping the peace by industrial, and now political domination) China might just have them as an industrial and political model, sans the aggression.
Most of the western world is a pushover. We saddle ourselves with the guilt of two world wars, we didn’t start, and the dropping of the first nuclear weapons, that ended the second one. Then Germany, Italy and Japan can barely remember their war dead, whilst the UK and the US celebrate every war event there is to celebrate.
No wonder the world is f**ed up.

Reply to  Felix
May 10, 2018 2:48 pm

China knows that if the Kim regime went away, there would be no US base on their border. We have wanted to bring our troops home from Korea since 1953, and have largely done so. If China were to overthrow Kim and allow Korea to reunite, the US would leave the peninsula.
The Air Force still has a base in Korea, but the US Army division there is a shadow of its former self. It has an HQ and one maneuver brigade. Its armored brigade has been disbanded. Its other brigade is in Washington State, with its division artillery and aviation brigade. Not sure how much of its sustainment brigade is in Korea, if any.
We want out. Carter almost pulled out, but was persuaded not to do so. But now the RoK is capable of defending itself. The US ground forces are mainly symbolic, to act as a trigger and deter the North. It would take us weeks to build up enough forces there to participate in a counterattack. There are two Marine regiments (3rd Division, understrength) on Okinawa, which exercise with the RoK army and marines.

Reply to  Felix
May 10, 2018 2:50 pm

China very much has aggressive intentions, which is one reason why it’s building bases in Pakistan and Africa. It wants to control the Indian Ocean and own the East and South China Seas, so is rapidly building up its ground, air and naval forces to effect those goals.

Reply to  Felix
May 10, 2018 7:28 pm
Reply to  Felix
May 10, 2018 7:44 pm

Khwarizmi May 10, 2018 at 7:28 pm
Apparently the distinction between defensive alliances and offensive aggression escapes you.
Every single American base is in a country that wants us there for its own defense against aggressive neighbors.

Reply to  Felix
May 10, 2018 8:10 pm

The people of Okinawa democratically elected a candidate who ran exclusively on a platform opposing US military bases. That candidate won. But you don’t care about real democracy, and you intentionally fail to distinguish between suzerains appointed by the United Snakes of Captivity…comment image
…and the wishes of the people.
Mohammed Mossadegh was the democratically elected leader of Iran. His agenda to nationalize the nations oil resources posed a threat to Anglo_American predators. Hence “Operation Ajax”, to overthrow democracy and install yet another brutal dictator, as documented by the New York Times in a moment of unusual candor.
The CIA played a role in overthrowing a democratically elected Prime Minister in my country too — Australia. When I mentioned that fact once upon a time, Eric Worall chimed in to express his gratitude to the CIA for their anti-democratic actions!
But let’s just pretend all those bases are sprinkled across the world because the people there begged for the protection afforded by Captain America’s mighty shield.
You woldn’t dream of letting the lowly peasants have any say in the matter.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Felix
May 11, 2018 2:59 am

US military bases in Bolivia, in Delhi?? Get real.

Dr. Strangelove
Reply to  Felix
May 11, 2018 9:06 pm

Gen. MacArthur wanted to nuke North Korea during the Korean War but Pres. Truman stopped him. He was the real Captain America

Reply to  Felix
May 11, 2018 9:14 pm

Khwarizmi May 10, 2018 at 8:10 pm
If the democratically elected government of Japan wanted us out of Okinawa, we’d be gone.
Mossadegh was not democratically elected. Yet again your ignorance shows through. He stopped counting votes after districts favorable to him came in.

Reply to  Felix
May 11, 2018 9:16 pm

Dr. Strangelove May 11, 2018 at 9:06 pm
Actually, he wanted to lay a radiation belt along the Yalu River to keep Chicom hordes from invading Korea. Hideously cynically, the first wave of Red Chinese troops were captured Nationalists, whom the Chicoms hoped the UN troops would kill for them, allowing the Communist units then to overrun the UN positions after they had expended all their ammo on the enemies of the Red regime.

Reply to  Felix
May 12, 2018 8:26 am

When ever the Korean War comes up I take the opportunity to direct people to an excellent read on the subject, The River and The Gauntlet, by SLA Marshall. Does not delve into the larger geopolitical issues, documents those fateful days in November 1950, and gives one an idea why MacArthur wanted to nuke a line across North Korea.

Bill Treuren
May 10, 2018 12:17 pm

If the WUWT site is overly diverse it may add value if multiple threads were added.
A lot of very interesting people contribute and comment on WUWT. I’ll bet there is a diverse skill and knowledge base, multiple threads may flush out some good stories.

Pat Frank
May 10, 2018 12:24 pm

One might guess that any nuclear test will destroy its own access tunnel, and compact any mountain under which it is carried out.
So, I don’t see anything remarkable about the geological outcome, and can’t imagine the collapse was unanticipated or has anything to do with “Rocket-man” Kim’s recent openings. That’s not to say he doesn’t have some other noxious idea.
Here’s a question for David Middleton: does nuclear debris such as from that test — now present in locations worldwide (including South Africa) — constitute a geological criterion for an Anthropocene age? 🙂

May 10, 2018 12:36 pm

That was some quick work, now they should set their sights on Kilauea.
The geologists might need the insights 🙂

May 10, 2018 12:37 pm

Underground nuclear tests at Jackass Flats, Nevada would vaporize the underground rock, forming a cavity. Several minutes later the rock would cool and condense and the resulting vacuum would partially collapse the cavity, forming a sinkhole on the surface. Here is a Youtube video of the collapse:
I think what you are seeing in the video is not the blast itself, but the collapse several minutes later. The instrument package, which is directly over the blast hole and monitors the blast, is mounted on rails and is dragged off the site so it is not damaged by the collapse. It appears in the Youtube pictures that the instrument shed has already been taken away. The blast hole is sealed almost immediately after the blast to minimize atmospheric contamination. All the blast data needed for evaluation occurs in the first few milliseconds.
Some collapse would be expected in North Korea, but maybe it did not go exactly as anticipated.

May 10, 2018 1:36 pm

Kim may be negotiating because his test facility has been compromised and with the economic sanctions, Kim doesn’t have enough money to restart his program.
China may also have put pressure on Kim about the test facility, as the Chinese were voicing fears that further tests would blow the top of the mountain off and contaminate surrounding areas, some of which are Chinese.
I think Trump’s long-time agressive posture on North Korea’s nuke program may have given Kim pause. You can go back to 1998 and watch a “Meet the Press” program with Tim Russert where Tim interviewed Trump on many subjects including North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and Trump of 1998 sounded just like the Trump of 2018, so that might give Kim the idea that Trump is really serious about what he is saying and what he will do if Kim does not cooperate.
I also get the impression that Kim is liking all this attention. I bet he is feeling kind of like a rock star and may have decided he likes the adulation and Western lifestyle more than his own. Dennis Rodman may have gotten through to him. 🙂
Anyway, Kim seems serious about this negotiation and has already made numerous concessions to the U.S. without the U.S. giving anything in return. That sounds like a guy that wants to make a deal to me.
If Kim makes the right deal (giving up his nukes and missiles, and on-site, unfettered inspections by the U.S.) then he and North Korea can have a bright future. If Kim doesn’t make a deal, things will only get worse for him, and I think he can see that, and he sees that Trump is not going to do a deal unless Kim does those things.
The release of the three hostages was an initiative that the North Koreans took on themselves. Trump said he thought they might be released after a deal was made, but North Korea voluteered to release them now.
Trump may be in the process of saving hundreds of thousands, if not millions of innocent lives by getting Kim to give up his nukes. And what does the radical Left do about this? Why they try to undermine Trump at every opportunity, which is “par for the course” for these power-hungry, appeasing liars.
And Trump is going to get the Mad Mullahs of Iran straightened out, too. I love how he encourages the Iranian people to overthrow their masters.
George W. Bush should have done that back in 2003 when he had Iran surrounded by hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops both in Iraq and Afghanistan and could have applied tremedous pressure to the Mad Mullahs. Bush should have been agitating for the Iranian people to overthrow the Mad Mullahs, and we might not have these problems with Iran anymore. As it is, Iran is stronger, and richer, thanks to Mullah Obama, and spoiling for a fight. The Mad Mullahs should be careful what they wish for. Russia might not be as much of a friend as they think when the bullets starts flying.
Now we can all plainly see that it is not a good idea to ignore murderous dictators. We should not leave them to their own devices, as we have done with North Korea and Iran, until they become a huge threat. We should nip them in the bud before it requires a World War.
But it takes courage and an understanding of human nature, to nip them in the bud, something the radical Left does not have, and not only do they not have the courage to act, they want to prevent those who do have the courage from acting, and so do everything they can to undermine the efforts.
The radical Left has no credibilty when it comes to national defense. Fortunately, they are not in power right now and things seem to be heading in the right direction under Trump.

Reply to  TA
May 10, 2018 8:29 pm

“The radical Left has no credibilty when it comes to national defense.”
Defending the nation is the last thing they want. The Soviets funded many of them to undermine the national defense ready for the Red Army to invade, and those leftists didn’t go away just because the Soviet Union did.

Steve Zell
May 10, 2018 2:26 pm

This reminds me of Samson (of the Bible) crashing the Philistine temple down on himself. Only in this case, it crashed down on North Korea’s best scientists.
President Trump and Secretary Pompeo need to be careful, though. North Korea might have other nuke testing sites, and the US needs to demand unfettered access to inspect and dismantle all of them, for at least a year, before agreeing to lift sanctions. This would also be a good time to talk about North Korea removing the artillery that is aimed at Seoul.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Steve Zell
May 11, 2018 3:10 am

Those are all details. The thing the president should be going for, and I believe is going for, is a peace treaty to formally end the Korean war. Everything else follows from there.

May 10, 2018 2:43 pm

“Our results demonstrate the capability of spaceborne remote sensing to help characterize large underground nuclear tests.”
To demonstrate anything, measurements must be taken on the field and compared to computer outputs. No such basic things have been done so these armchair useless experts have “demonstrated” nothing, accept their fantasy that modelling could represent real world, without any validation whatsoever.

Stuart Nachman
May 10, 2018 2:52 pm

Again off topic, but I would appreciate the thoughts of the scientists commenting here regarding the effects on climate, if any, of the ongoing volcanic activity in Hawaii.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Stuart Nachman
May 11, 2018 3:07 am

Very little if any. It is a small eruption and the only reason we read about it is because some people living on top of it have been surprised by lava in the living, which they shouldn’t.

Gunga Din
May 10, 2018 3:51 pm

One thing I’m not quite clear on.
The site for their nuclear tests caved in, but how does that hinder their research or production?
Did they really have them all under the same mountain?

Reply to  Gunga Din
May 12, 2018 7:18 am

Supposedly, North Korea only has the one nuclear test site.

May 10, 2018 4:03 pm

When I was a kid in Hawaii, my best friend and I could buy huge bricks of firecrackers for next to nothing. Oh the countless hours of pure fun with our Tonka trucks and green army men and vivid imaginations. An endless cycle of creation and destruction.
Throw in raging infernos, guns, and molten lead, and you have two very happy boys.

Reply to  Max Photon
May 10, 2018 7:46 pm

Two happy boys on an island annexed from the unhappy natives.
There’s a country where no one knows
what’s going on in the rest of the world
There’s a country where minds are closed
with just a few asking questions
Like what do their leaders say
in sessions behind closed doors
and if this is the perfect way
why do we need these goddamn lies
This doesn’t go down too well
“We give you everything and you throw it back
Don’t like it here you can go to hell
You’re either with or against us…
There’s a country that’s great and wide
It’s got the biggest of everything
Try to attack it and you can’t hide
Don’t say that you haven’t been warned
You can’t hide in a gunman’s mask
or kill innocent folks and run
But if you’re good at it they might ask
“come on over to the other side”
There’s a country that’s tired of war
There’s a country that’s scared inside
But the bank is open and you can draw
for guns to fight in their backyard
I could go on but what’s the use
You can’t fight them with songs
But think of this as just
another tiny blow against the Empire

Reply to  Khwarizmi
May 10, 2018 7:51 pm

Have you ever been to Hawaii?
What share of Hawaiians want to restore the monarchy?
Did you know that if a normal Hawaiian looked at a member of the ali’i or his shadow fell over such a noble, it meant death?

Reply to  Khwarizmi
May 10, 2018 8:10 pm

“Two happy boys on an island annexed from the unhappy natives.”
Yeah, don’t worry, I got assaulted virtually every single day for something I didn’t do. Forgive me for trying to make the best of it.
You are so noble.

Reply to  Max Photon
May 10, 2018 8:27 pm

Have you been to the Crimean peninsula?
What share of Crimeans want to be part of the Ukraine after Vitoria “cookies’ Nuland’s violent coup?

Dr. Strangelove
Reply to  Khwarizmi
May 11, 2018 9:22 pm

The Crimeans are Russians according to Putin. C’mon even the bear loves him

Reply to  Khwarizmi
May 11, 2018 9:27 pm

Yes, I have. Have you?
I haven’t been to the Crimea since Russia occupied it, but I know that many if not most of its residents would rather have regular food, power and water supplies from the Ukraine than be controlled by Vlad the Invader’s Little Green Men.

May 10, 2018 5:29 pm

“If ifs and buts were candy and nuts we’d have a merry Christmas.” Size of depression reveals small nuclear explosion and nobody is going to be within range of safety so I find it less than believable that there’s been reported deaths. Political advantage gained with test and now they are out of money/resources to continue and know if they don’t start feeding the people there will be a revolution. He’ll be a bigger hero taking NK into the 21st century if he can survive realization of living standard differences between the north and south. Kim gave up because he had to. Trump? Give me another reason if you can.

Reply to  markl
May 10, 2018 5:48 pm

Per: Sun Tzu (The art of war)
“When you surround an army, leave an outlet free.”
“Do not press a desperate foe too hard.”

Ed Zuiderwijk
May 11, 2018 12:29 am

Did Kim lose his trump card?

May 11, 2018 5:34 am

What if the collapse resulted in a release of radioactivity or nearly did so. Would that prompt the Chinese to step in and say “no mas”?

David in Michigan
Reply to  Oatley
May 11, 2018 6:28 am

@ Oatley:
In answer to your question, YES. This has been my take for some time….. since it was first rumored that the site had collapsed. The Chinese are concerned about radioactive fallout and are putting heavy pressure on ‘Lil Kim.
What is surprising to me is that it took this long for the thread to come to this question.

Reply to  David in Michigan
May 12, 2018 7:23 am

“What is surprising to me is that it took this long for the thread to come to this question.”
It was addressed upthread by yours truly. You missed it.

May 11, 2018 7:55 am

Here is a thought. As noted above there was a rescue attempt to try and save the several hundred workers trapped in the collapsed tunnel. The question is would they have even mounted a rescue mission, if those trapped inside were merely replaceable workers? This could be a strong indicator that there were some important people inside when the tunnel collapsed.

Reply to  goldminor
May 12, 2018 7:25 am

“This could be a strong indicator that there were some important people inside when the tunnel collapsed.”
It would be too bad if some Iranian nuclear scientists got caught in the collapse of the North Korean nuclear test facility..

Reply to  TA
May 13, 2018 7:55 pm

Enough brainpower to make progress in nuclear field as well as in the rocket field, at a pace never seen in history, not enough brainpower to have some remote sensors and avoid getting crunched?

May 11, 2018 9:14 am

Forgive my ignorance…why would there even be people in the tunnel, let alone the entire mountain. Aren’t these things remotely monitored?

May 12, 2018 8:22 am

North Korea and Iran is the topic in this special addition of Hannity, starting at 36 min. 46 sec.
One of the 3 guests on the topic, Lt. Col. (Res) Michael Waltz said, “”Both N. Korea and Iran are linked in so many ways. There have been N. Korea chemical engineers in Syria. Don’t forget that the Israeli’s bombed a ‘N. Korean built’ nuclear reactor in Syria years ago, also backed by Iran. These are linkages, strategic linkages, that Amb. Bolton, Pres. Trump, Sec’y Mattis understand and know how to go after and that’s why you are seeing real results from the Trump administration.””
Gordon Chang says, “”As we know these two programs are linked. We have Iranian technicians in N. Korea. The Iranian technicians have seen the N. Korean nuclear detonations, they’ve been there. So, these two regimes are joined at the hip. Iran is supposed to pay N. Korea something like, 2 and a half to 3 billion dollars a year for their various forms of cooperation. And that’s a real indication that the two nations, the two regimes, are so close together.””

May 12, 2018 11:49 am

President Trump is announcing that if Kim Jung un cooperates and gets rid of his nukes, the U.S. will help North Korea to become an economy equal to South Korea.
Kim is going to need a lot of electricity. (place nightime satellite photo of Korea with the South lit up like a christmas tree, and the North in a blackout, here)

Reply to  TA
May 12, 2018 12:00 pm

That’s “Chairman Kim”, btw. Or at least that is what Secretary of State Pompeo called him the other day.
It’s funny, the radical Left were wringing their hands and telling Trump to stop it, when Trump was calling Kim “Little rocketman”.
Now that the Trump administration has moderated their tone towards Kim because of the upcoming summit, the radical Left is complaining that Trump is not being hard enough on Kim, rhetorically. Trump is not being harsh enough on Kim the Libs now claim.
It doesn’t matter what Trump does, the radical Left is not going to like it. TDS. Maybe I shouldn’t call it that since the radical Left does have a legitimate grip with Trump since he is dismantling their socialist agenda piece after piece. But they still have TDS really bad. 🙂

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