Well, the French are the first to drop the F-bomb on North Korea—failure.
Speaking to reporters, French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie (right) said “it was an explosion with a force of about half a kiloton, which is not an extremely powerful explosion, or it shows that there could have been a failure.”
AP’s Katherine Schrader paraphrased the official statement from the US Director of National Intelligence simply noting the subkiloton yield was ahistorical. Would it kill AP to run the full quote?
The Intelligence Community detected a Sub-Kiloton explosive event in North Korea. We cannot confirm if it was a nuclear explosion. For an initial test a yield of several Kilotons has been historically observed. The NK Mission Manager will continue to monitor and gather analysis throughout the day.
See, full quote run; no harm done.
Anyway, IRIS has the seismograms online. And no, that is way beyond my skillset.
AFP has a very competent summary of the debate about the test. One possibility is that North Korea faked a test, with a huge amount of conventional explosives—about 1,000 tons, come to think of it. That seems unlikely to me—after all, why fake an explosion that casts doubt on your nuclear capability? Did I mention that was a lot of explosive?
Anway, we should know from radionuclide monitoring in a couple of days.
Update: Kevin Drum brings in a big gun with the chops to deal with data that makes me squeamish.
More Updates: I don’t mean to countenance the idea that the test was staged—after all, why stage a failure?