The Corner

Ambiguity

From a reader:

Jonah, I’ve been visiting the sites I normally go to when I want to see the

actual seismic signature of an event, and none of them have the NoKo

explosion up.

That’s very peculiar, because the signature of a nuke explosion is

distinctive – it spikes upward very steeply, then pretty much drops down

again, because all of the energy is released at once.  No other kind of

explosion matches that signature.  Both the US and Russia had technology to

identify this signature thirty years ago –  it was how we tracked each

other’s nuclear testing.

I have to think we knew within a few minutes whether it was nuclear or not,

and the fact that we haven’t announced it means that it suits the government

to be ambigious.  What I can’t figure out is whether we’re using that

ambiguity in order to pressure the ChiComs to be useful.  It suited them

quite well for NoKo to be a problem for the US, but this has caused a loss

of face, far more than the NoKos keeping the Chinese trains bringing aid.  I

don’t think the ChiComs actually care if NoKo has nukes, because it would

let them claim deniability if NoKo hands some to al Qaeda, and the NoKos

surely know that if they really did something to which China objected, China

would wipe them off the face of the earth.

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