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North Korean Nuclear Facilities, From 30,000 Feet

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  • by DCTech (2545590) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @05:00AM (#38627894)
    North Korea knows fully well people are constantly spying their area. That's why much more interesting thing is that they're likely developing nuclear sites with Burma/Myanmar [bbc.co.uk], deeply within the jungle and inside caves in mountains. They were doing business together back in 2004 too.

    The North Koreans, aided by Burmese workers, are constructing a concrete-reinforced underground facility that is '500ft from the top of the cave to the top of the hill above'," reads the cable, published by the Guardian newspaper.

    Some 300 North Koreans were working at the site, the authors said, although the cable suggested this number was improbably high.

    The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says that for months there have been persistent reports in the press and specialised journals suggesting that Burma is building a nuclear facility with North Korean help.

    Another cable released by the whistle-blowing site suggests that China, Burma's most powerful ally, is growing impatient with the country's leaders.

    Frankly, this is what happens when powerful nations have nuclear weapons and smaller ones want them too to defend themselves. And remember that U.s. is still the only nation on planet to ever have used nuclear weapons. Against civilians, no less.

    • N. Korea and Burma are oppressive dictatorships. It is in no one's desire to let these countries have or retain nuclear weapons. The democracies of the world should do all they can (and thankfully they are) to disarm and dissuade these nations from their nuclear weapons. Thankfully, the US shows no intention of giving up this fight.
      • From what I've seen in history, only democracies nuke civilians.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:01AM (#38628078)
          If that's the case then democracies only nuke Japan, so they have nothing to worry about.
          • by Burning1 (204959)

            Actually, there was a strong call to nuke Russia before they could develop nukes as well.

        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:21AM (#38628136) Homepage Journal

          Could you please compare the bombing of Hiroshima with something more "acceptable", such as the repeated firebombings of Dresden? In your comparison, please include comparisons of number of lives lost, percentages of military to civilian deaths, personal property losses, infrastructure losses, and the military value of all those losses.

          Perhaps, if you have enough background, you could compare the overall losses to both German and Japan during and immediately after World War 2.

          And, if you're up to the task, maybe you could explain why the US military still has a surplus of Purple Heart medals, to the tune of a quarter million of them.

          Nuclear weapons are terrible, I'll grant that. But, so is a 500 pound incindiary bomb landing in your living room. To the dead people, there is no difference.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Nuclear weapons are terrible, I'll grant that. But, so is a 500 pound incindiary bomb landing in your living room. To the dead people, there is no difference.

            There's a big difference to the dying. All things considered, it's less horrible to bleed out in a couple hours than to die of radiation poisoning over a couple weeks.

            • by khallow (566160)

              There's a big difference to the dying. All things considered, it's less horrible to bleed out in a couple hours than to die of radiation poisoning over a couple weeks.

              How about dying over a couple of weeks to an otherwise treatable infection? How about dying over a couple of years to hunger? The pro-nuke side has plenty of room for escalation here.

            • Firebombing can produce some pretty nasty slow deaths too, like being roasted alive in your own house. IIRC, Vonnegut described one case where civilians were boiled alive when they hid in a water tank.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Could you please compare the bombing of Hiroshima with something more "acceptable", such as the repeated firebombings of Dresden?

            The arguably Dresden was more necessary because it really was "us or them". If Britain had lost the war then Europe would have fallen completely to the Axis and we would have be subjugated totally. At first the US found area bombing and targeting civilians unpalatable so refused to join in, but we really were desperate and didn't have many options. And eventually the US did fire bomb Japan anyway.

            The US, on the other hand, was never in any real danger of losing to Japan. Merely starting the war is regarded as a huge blunder by the Japanese because they could never win it, especially once their fleet in the Pacific had been decimated. The US also had lots of options available with its nuclear weapons. They could have been detonated on remote islands or high up in the atmosphere to demonstrate their power. As it happened the reason for surrendering was the fear that Tokyo would be attacked, and that same reasoning would have existed if targets other than cities had been destroyed.

            The US wanted to test nukes on people though. At the time no-one knew what the effects would be, particularly long term. Presumably other countries would develop their own nuclear weapons and the US wanted to know what the likely effects on its cities and citizens would be. So they did some tests on the Japanese people. Morally there is no equivalence between Dresden and Hiroshima/Nagasaki.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Could you please compare the bombing of Hiroshima with something more "acceptable", such as the repeated firebombings of Dresden?

            The arguably Dresden was more necessary because it really was "us or them". If Britain had lost the war then Europe would have fallen completely to the Axis and we would have be subjugated totally. At first the US found area bombing and targeting civilians with incendiaries unpalatable so refused to join in, but we really were desperate and didn't have many options. And eventually the US did fire bomb Japan anyway.

            The US, on the other hand, was never in any real danger of losing to Japan. Merely starting th

            • You, Sir, win the prize, for the most educated, and most intelligent response.

              I happen to disagree with you, slightly. I believe that it was necessary to defeat the Japanese. As for those options you mention - hmmmm. How many bombs were available at that time? And, what would the cost have been to acquire more? Remember, this was new technology, then. Wasting a bomb on a non-military target for the purposes of demonstrating the power of the bombs was probably seen as "Not an option!"

              Testing nuclear de

            • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @02:01PM (#38630556) Homepage Journal

              Oh - I must add one thing that is often overlooked in discussions of this type. Japan had already been subjected to some of the more conventional firebombings, such as Dresden experienced. Those more typical bombings were even more horrible than Dresden, because the Japanese military-industrial complex was more spread out into poor neighborhoods, than Germany had been. They were more terrible, in that Japanese construction was vastly more flammable than German construction, causing the damage to be even more widespread, and more deadly.

              And, those firebombings had not even put a dent in their will to fight.

              Invading Japanese islands and mainland would have been a nightmare indeed. I personally believe that the bombs were a necessary evil.

              • Like, say, the bombing of Tokyo. It was firebombed and was the deadliest single air raid of the war. More than the atomic bombs. In terms of lives lost, buildings destroyed, people injured, etc, it was worse.

                The reason that the atomic bomb raids worked so well is not their massive destruction, but the fact that one bomb could do that. The US did a god job convincing Japan it had a fleet of these bombs and would just keep doing it. They didn't say they only had three of them (one for the test, and the two th

      • by bug1 (96678) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @05:33AM (#38628008)

        "N. Korea and Burma are oppressive dictatorships. It is in no one's desire to let these countries have or retain nuclear weapons."

        Indeed, its only oppressive democracies that should be allowed to have nuclear weapons.

        A more important question is, should fair and relaxed dictatorships/democracies be allowed to have them ? Hmm, but i guess they wouldnt need them, because they dont go around trying to bully people all the time.

        Perhaps having nuclear weapons is a sign that a country is oppressive ?

        • Perhaps having nuclear weapons is a sign that a country is oppressive ?

          Let's see....

          India
          France
          United Kingdom
          United States

          No, that doesn't seem to correlate.

      • by neokushan (932374)

        I don't really want to troll or anything, but with the NDAA and SOPA, I worry that the USA is heading that way as well.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by wmac1 (2478314)
        Yes, and the US government has been very much better. The track record of at least 50 wars in less than half a century, Nuking civilian cities and killing or causing the death of millions in those wars is a very good record for your so called democracy.

        If there is one country which should not have the right of having nukes, that's the US. The US has used it before.... will use it again ... possibly
    • by F69631 (2421974) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:17AM (#38628124)

      You often hear about the nuclear bombs and the horrors caused by those. It's a sexy story: A new weapon so powerful that nobody truly understood what it would do... A single massacre of civilians to end a war... It makes for great movies and great ethical arguments. Nothing like the cold and calculated cruelty, such as firebombing [wikipedia.org], that was utilized by both sides but perfected by allies when effectively destroying [alien8.de] European cities.

      For those too lazy to go to Wikipedia, Firebombing is a nasty tactic: The first wave of bombers attacks infrastructure (roads, electricity, firefighters, roofs of buildings), the second one contains powerful incendiary bombs. The fires are difficult to put out (due to the first wave) but there is also an added benefit: The people who managed to get into shelters have pretty good chance of suffocating to death as the whole city block is in flames for hours. This was used over and over again against civilian targets.

      Not that ordinary bombing wasn't bad enough: It's nothing like the romanticized idea of a couple of people in a small bunker in their backyard. I've visited the old bomb shelters of Berlin: There are airtight rooms that can't be opened from the inside (if they run out of air there, opening the door would just result in them consuming all the oxygen from the rest of the shelter, too. It's better to just open the door from the outside after the raid is over and see if the people are still alive or not). There were dozens of people tightly packed into relatively small space, being very still and hoping that the air would last. At the beginning of the wars, there were indicators to tell how much oxygen was left (three at different levels and they'd change color when the oxygen was out near the roof, near the center and near the floor) but those just caused panic and were removed soon. As the number of raids grew, it no longer made sense to leave the shelter for extended time periods. The managers removed doors from toilets because by removing all the privacy, they were able to somewhat lower the amount of suicides (Several each day) that people committed in the shelter. This was all caused by the good guys.

      To point out something "nice" from the Axis portfolio... The siege of Leningrad: The only place and time (as far as I'm aware of) in the modern western world where cannibalism actually became a widespread problem among the civilian population of a major city.

      So... yeah. Nuclear weapons were bad but I don't think they're nearly the worst things that happened in those wars. I wouldn't even list them in top 3 (though they would get into top 10). This is also why I always feel a small amount of outrage when Americans talk about how they're at war (or even two wars): USA pays some people to risk their life overseas, some of which then end up dying. That's an invasion or perhaps expensive armed conflict or something, but hardly equivalent to being in war.

      • Is that bombs were really, REALLY inaccurate back in the day. These days we (in the US at least) think about sending a single, small, bomber like an F-15E to do multiple missions. Go bomb this, then this, then come back kind of thing. A couple bombs per target at most.

        In WWII that isn't how it worked. You wanted to take out an industrial plant inside a city you leveled a large part of the city around it. That was the only way to do it. Deploy a bunch of bombers and release hundreds of bombs. Statistically s

    • Myanmar has partially democratized since then, and is pursuing stronger relations with the United States.
      • Myanmar has partially democratized since then, and is pursuing stronger relations with the United States.

        Myanmar has made minor, if promising, moves in a democratic direction. "Partially democratized"? Not hardly.

    • by fred911 (83970)

      And by using them the US saved hundreds of thousands of lives, world wide.

    • by dbIII (701233)

      Some 300 North Koreans were working at the site, the authors said, although the cable suggested this number was improbably high.

      Slave labour is not very efficient :(
      That place is one of several reminders that you don't have to go back half a century to find true evil.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08, 2012 @06:41AM (#38628192)

    Is making the error to think countries like NK and Iran will use nukes because dictators are irrational madmen. Sure, they're 'mad' enough but that doesn't make 'm irrational. Launching nukes would mean imminent self-destruction and is akin to walking up to a battalion of tank with a single round of .22.
    The only motivation pursuing nukes is for gaining more means to play the political game. Dictators use ideology (ie. Stanilism, religion) to mobilize citizens to maintain or expand power and/or resources. The rest is a game.

    If you are so naive to believe entire countries act as suicidal maniacs then you're being fooled by the same tools dictators use, only we call it 'peace', 'democracy' and 'stability'.

    • by khallow (566160)

      If you are so naive to believe entire countries act as suicidal maniacs

      I'd be "naive" until it happens again. Several countries suicided during the Second World War, not all of them run by crazy dictators. The Third Republic of France crumbled like a wet paper bag. I can't see the construction of the obviously and deeply flawed Maginot line and the inexplicable inaction for years of the French government in the face of Germany's growing military power, as anything other than a fairly elaborate ritual of suicide.

      Personally, I think we will see numerous uses of nuclear weapon

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @07:04AM (#38628254) Homepage Journal
    See, the North Koreans DID disarm and were working with the US to develop nuclear power that was capable of producing power, but very hard to weaponize. But apparently doing so actually required thought and subtlety to international relations, something Republicans are apparently incapable of actually comprehending. Come in our cowboy man-child president who scrapped the whole deal, called North Korea "evil", and then was shocked when they re-started their weapons program. Same with Iran, and then he, and Obama for that matter, decided to go after the people who WERENT developing WMDs, letting all dictators round the world know that if they develop WMDs they are safe, if they don't, then they will get killed so the president can prove what a "man" he is. Bush was the biggest failure of a president in the post-civil war era, and Obama is only SLIGHTLY better.
    • by Pecisk (688001)

      For crying out loud, would someone stop this Slashdot groupthinking?

      Yes, there is blame to share with China, US or any other superpower for North Korea situation. However, in nutshell, most of it falls upon crazy leadership of NK. For normal country, amount of provocations from outside world to NK would be laughable. But these guys know that they are simply bad, and they will be towed away if any little chance is given away.

      Was Bush warmongering when claiming North Korea, Iran and what else (I don't even do

      • I also get tired of this idea that the US is supposed to be all nice and polite and caring all the time when other countries can get away with being complete fucking assholes in response.

        I mean it with North Korea it would be like having someone over for dinner who screams about how evil you are, pees on your furniture, kicks your cat, and so on yet you are told you just need to be "more polite" to him.

        Politeness, civility, etc, all two way streets. It is unreasonable to demand that one side be polite and c

      • I believe it because they did abandon them, part of the Agreed Framework was that inspectors would be allowed in and any impedance of the inspectors would have resulted in penalties. It was working, until the man-child came in with his axis of evil bullshit North Korea had suspended it's program, and we have plenty of evidence to show that they did. If Bush had proof that they had violated the Agreed Framework, then I wouldn't have had any issues with him abandoning the program. But he didn't abandon it
  • Anyone want to tell those guys that SketchUp isn't open source? This is slashdot after all, and we care about these things don't we?

    • by jon3k (691256)
      I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed that. If you can't even get facts right regarding something that takes about 2 seconds to search for on google, it kind of calls into question their ability to analyze complex intelligence. For what it's worth, you can use the Feedback link to let them know.
  • didn't you get the memo? The Norks are just on re-runs. Switch before you miss the live bombing

  • by PPH (736903) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @12:13PM (#38629724)

    ... what the view through a B-52 bombsite looks like.

  • by redelm (54142) on Sunday January 08, 2012 @02:00PM (#38630554) Homepage

    No direct complaint about TFA (pretty pictures, nice analysis) but just _why_ were USAF recon photos released? This smells like more propaganda blackwash, like the [non] nukes.

    Sure, everyone says NK has nukes after two tests. But look carefuly at those tests -- both sub-kiloton in yield. 0.5 - 0.7 kt . AFAIK, it is _extremely_ difficult to design reliable pits in that range. Much easier and safer to go for the typical 15 kt yield (less Pu/HEU). OTOH, it would be simple to make 0.5 kt from ANFO (ammonium nitrate - fuel oil) explosive in a mine with chosen radiowaste at the mine-mouth to leave the desired radioisotope signature.

    The US mil-ind complex must be desperate to keep that bogeyman alive. China needs both whipping boys (NK, Burma) to corral its peoples.

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