Jeffrey LewisNuclear Volleyball

Normally I don’t bother with Gertz, but this is priceless:

Nuclear volleyball

Intelligence photographs of North Korea’s nuclear test site showed technicians playing volleyball this week near the tunnel where a nuclear device was unsuccessfully set off on Sunday.

The facility where the test took place was identified by U.S. officials as a North Korean science and technology research center near the town of Kilchu and the northeastern coast.

Very high-resolution satellite images obtained by the Defense Intelligence Agency showed the volleyball game being played near dormitories at the facility.

The Japanese intelligence agency also had access to the photographs, and according to U.S. defense officials, they reported that a sports activity so close to a nuclear site was inconsistent with post-nuclear testing precautions, since the underground tunnel where the test took place was located several hundred yards away.

I don’t know if we can draw all that much from a volleyball game, but I love imagining a disatisfied Kim Jong Il ordering a volleyball game among failed technicians adjacent to a forthcoming nuclear device—a little over the left … A little more …


  1. Lab Lemming (History)

    Do you know if the Japanese neutrino detectors are sensitive enough to directly detect the radiation from a primitive blast, or a fizzle? I have a back-of-the-envelope calculation here, but it isn’t my field…

  2. Muskrat (History)

    Wasn’t the nuclear volleyball a joint Air Force/U.S. Olympic Committee program in the late ‘50s?

  3. Ray Duray (History)


    You might appreciate this Asia Times article on the North Korea test dud:

    I very much enjoy reading your insightful analysis of this and other “enemy” , i.e. Iranian, efforts. Thanks for helping put the utter nonsense and rubbishy propaganda published by the liars and court stenographers in TV land and the MSM press into realistic perspective.

    All the best, Ray

  4. Rip (History)

    What was the score? Damned intelligence – not doing the total job!

  5. azrael (History)

    The current state of the art in neutrino detectors barely records any of the neutrinos emmited by the sun. Such facilities would not be able to detect the tiny neutrino burst of a hydrogen fusion device, which the north korean device was not.

  6. 2hotel9 (History)

    This is pretty funny, billions of dollars worth of equipment used to watch volleyball. The baseball playoffs must have been blackedout for their veiwing area! Even with todays report of radiolgical spoor being detected, I am still leaning towards calling this a faked shot. Jong Il stamping his diminutive little feet and screeching for everyone to pay attention to him. And it is working. Oh, and by the by, I have been recommending ACW to various people all week. Hope your counter is climbing!

  7. lawnorder (History)

    tee-hee-hee. You are funny!

    Me thinks the technicians know better about the danger around their facilities than their King. Which means that the dud didn’t vent anything…

    OTOH, it wouldn’t be the first time technicians and scientists get cavalier about risks…

  8. sunbin (History)

    agree with azreal.1) neutrino is the hardest to detect (among other particles)2) given the distance of japan from the epicener (inverse cube law), the noise (i.e. sun/cosmic ray/nuclear power plants in japan/korea). the noise/signal ratio will be too high.

  9. sunbin (History)

    more1) neutrinos from these fission processes have maximum energy per particle (quantum mechanic set the upper bound, 2 particle decay splits the bound into a continuous spectrum), which is different (i think lower than) those from cosmic radiation.the energy profile of nuke is the same as that of nuclear power plant nearby. (hence subject to noise)2) since the blast is underground, and so is the detector in japn, and that neutrinoes travel in straight lines, the neutrinos that reaches the detector would have penetrated much more solid material than those from nearby nuclear plants (or even from supernovas – from directly above)). that may contribute to the weakening of the signal/noise ratio as well.