Why can't we detect a nuclear blast?

Post ImageAs I am sure you are well aware, tensions in North Korea are building as the rogue state threatened more tests if additional sanctions were placed on it. I have been keeping up on the news much like everyone else, but I haven’t really taken the time to do a lot of digging to understand the situation better. As such, I pretty much consider North Korea crazy, as I fail to see how provoking a war they could not possibly win will get them anywhere. This is not 1939, and the major powers of the day are not going to roll over and give North Korea what it wants.

Despite unified international pressure to disband plans for a test, North Korea apparently tested a nuclear weapon. I say apparently, because it is not yet clear:

“The working assumption is that this was a nuclear explosion of some kind,” one intelligence official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The conventional explosion theory doesnt make a hell of a lot of sense, even for the North Koreans.”

Working assumption is an improvement from a few days ago! So here’s my question: why can’t we detect a nuclear blast?

When I say “we”, I mean the current nuclear powers, especially the United States and Russia. How could the cold war have gone on for decades without a nuclear detection system being conceived?

Maybe I am letting my ignorance show here, but it seems to me we should have the ability to detect a nuclear blast anywhere. I don’t know how the science works or anything, but I would have thought such a detection system would have been developed a long time ago. I would have thought that a country like the United States would want to know immediately if a nuclear weapon was detonated somewhere.

It just seems strange to me that North Korea can say they detonated an atomic weapon, and we have no idea whether they are lying or not.

2 thoughts on “Why can't we detect a nuclear blast?

  1. We can’t detect it reliably because if it was in fact a nuclear bomb, it would be the smallest explosion of a nuclear device in history, and something that could possibly be recreated with a few hundred pounds of dynamite. Nuclear explosions are usually easy to detect by the shear fact that they’re so enormous.

  2. Yeah I suppose. I dunno, in my head I have it stuck that an atomic explosion is different and there must be some way to determine the difference. I guess I am just crazy heh!

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