- U.S. learns from nuclear tests
Explosions tell much about capabilities of India, Pakistan
Date: Sun, 31 May 1998
Subject: Very interesting report to keep in mind
The attached report is very important because if the claims it makes are true, then it clearly shows why we are probably not yet finished with testing by either India or Pakistan, especially Pakistan.
From personal experience I can also see that in reality things did not go as they were claimed by the media with regard to Pakistan's tests. During the Reagan years the issue of test verification via seismic signals from underground testing was a major debate, along with charges all the time of the Soviet's exceeding the 150 Kiloton limit among other things. Because of this, and in an effort to monitor worldwide testing activity, Downwinders spent considerable time and resources gathering seismic data from around the world and establishing network contacts at various seismic facilities in order to analyze and understand what was actually occurring.
As a result some of us became very familiar with reading the seismic signals from underground tests. We also received extensive coaching and personal training from some of the world's leading experts on the subject. Based on that, after studying the signals given off by Pakistan's tests, it is clear to me that there were not five explosions, and no more than two at the most, and most likely only one. The yield estimates place them far behind those of India and not over 15 kilotons at most.
Because of this I would lean towards accepting the claim in this article that Pakistan had major problems and not all their weapons fired as planned, and those that did had some problems reaching planned yield. Therefore no matter what Pakistan says about having finished its series, I would expect additional tests fairly soon as they try to solve their technical problems. I also would expect an attempt by them to match India by exploding a full fledged H-bomb.
Pakistan claimed its devices were "boosted fission weapons", which is a weapon where the core contains a small amount of tritium that when the fission core -- plutonium or uranium 235 -- undergoes a chain reaction, it is heated and compressed, allowing for some limited fusion reactions which boost the yield dramatically. Most US and Russian weapons used this approach almost from the beginning which allowed a bomb like that used in WWII to have its yield boosted from, say, 20 Kilotons to 100 or more depending on how it was designed. This is not a full fledged 2-stage hydrogen device, but is a quick way to get a bigger bang for the bucks.
Clearly Pakistan's low maximum yield rules out "boosted weapons".
Bottom line in all this is that both sides are still going to have to do more actual tests to perfect weapons systems more advanced than simple gravity bombs dropped for aircraft like the U.S. first did, and I doubt either nation is going to stop now until they reach the goal of usable, proven weapons to put on their missiles, and especially until they can have significant yields in the 100-200 Kiloton range.
I hope my personal conclusions are in error and that we have seen the end, but I seriously doubt it!
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