The United States has been working on space-based sensors since the late fifties. The nuclear Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) and earlier VELA HOTEL satellites. There have been public acknowledgements over the functional aspects of those satellites as well as some advanced VELA HOTEL satellites. You brought to light technologies used on the border now. Given we've been playing at theories here- I wouldn't discount how advanced these systems have become to detection and tracking when a device isn't being experimented on in hardened bunkers underground.
Then again, there hasn't been any examples of military advancements only recently coming to light that have been classified and actively in use for long periods of time. You know- stealth transport helicopters, different DARPA projects, etc. Anyway, I'm not guaranteeing they could anymore than you can guarantee to me that the capabilities aren't already deployed.
You linked an article where the, "conventional explosives", were separated from the fissile materials. You linked an article that even highlights this as a reason that chain reaction was not possible. Now assemble the device- have the, "conventional explosives", and the fissile materials assembled and armed, repeat the accident, and recognize the risk.
Hercanic wrote:The conventional explosives used could accidentally go off, but as long as you're using a cone design and not a hemisphere design it's relatively safe.
As for, "no nuke don't work like that"; when a nuclear weapon is being transported it's not armed. Any modern weapon is relatively stable when it has not been armed. Accidents have occurred on devices in transport (i.e. United States, Israel, some shot down, lost, dropped, etc.). None of them were entirely assembled and armed. I'll use the article you linked to highlight something,
"Though a chain reaction was impossible, because the plutonium pits were stored separately on the plane, the incident spread radioactive contamination and debris over a mile-wide area.
Although the military cleaned up the site in secret, a few fragments of the bomb - some radioactive still - may be found in the area. It is one of more than 30 known "Broken Arrow" incidents involving the accidental loss or destruction of a nuclear weapon."
I am simply highlighting the fact that nuclear weapon components are generally not entirely assembled/ armed during transport. In this fictitious scenario that we've been establishing here where North Korea would use some sort of suicidal transport as a delivery method; the device would likely be immediately assembled and armed in order to maximize the destructive outcome no matter what was the resulting outcome. It is not as stable or risk-free in this state. You wouldn't want to end up under anti-air fire conducting evasive maneuvers in this state.
If they didn't immediately assemble and have the device armed the transport could immediately be destroyed with relatively minor chance of serious fallout. If the device were assembled and armed; the outcome could be much more calamitous.
Furthermore, I don't remember suggesting low orbit detonations weren't dangerous. I just don't see the feasibility considering any North Korean threat would be immediately tracked and as you can imagine rather quickly dealt with before it could immediately endanger allied regions. Any commercial transport or flight would raise red flags as soon as it had deviated from a set flight plan, in the scenario where they try loading it in to some kind of commercial transport. Any military plane wouldn't be anymore likely to deviate into allied airspace. There's a long history of planes wandering in to neighboring airspaces in that region of the world- examples exist of commercial airliners or military flights being shot down.
So what, North Korea is going to load an armed
nuclear weapon, aim itself towards the south, and be shot down over top its own region? It's kind of a ludicrous plan. Also as far as orbital detonations being calamitous to electronics and so on. Sure, commercial technologies might be in for some pain, but military components have had a long history of improving EMP shielding. The same research that DARPA has been performing since the 50's for different bombs, etc., has also been conducted to handle EMPs (i.e. MIL-STD-2169 (Classified) (High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse Environment, etc.)).
They could do anything they want; that's true. They've just invested their full attention to an ICBM. I'm not suggesting they can't do an about face and load planes, use agents- or what have you. Their plans so far as a nuclear weapon has been mounting it on a missile. They don't have any hope in hell of using a conventional bomber or these ludicrous transport plane suicide missions to really have an impact in any strategic sense. The fallout on themselves would likely be incredible at the mercy of their own weapon if they tried detonating it mid-air at whatever point they knew that they would get no further (i.e. about to be shot down or what have you). Conventionally you would escort a bomber with escort squadrons. None of these really pose a risk to allied forces whose technology and capabilities are decades ahead. It's reflected in North Korea's own decisions thus far that they recognize that they won't be able to handle equipping a bomber with a nuclear weapon and putting it to any real use. They have also recognized their incapability at inventing a functional stealth technology whereby a bomber could become feasible once again. They have positioned themselves to attain the only form of technology that could potentially pose a legitimate risk of nuclear attack in the region with nuclear mounted missiles and ICBM technologies. That's where they're banking things, and that's probably where it's going to perish.
Also, I'll probably checkout of this discussion soon. Whereas in earlier posts I said there was something to be gained by this discussion; eventually the discussion does need to change before it gets stale. We're not running 24 hour news here people! Oh, and it's true, I'm writing a lot right now, partially because I know Hercanic won't read half of it, and mostly because I'm just having some fun now. <3