As we all know (at least, those of us who aren’t living under a rock) North Korea recently set off their largest nuclear explosion to date. They claimed that it was a full-blown thermonuclear device; some have accepted this statement at face value while others have been dubious. Rather than weighing in on North Korea’s truthfulness, let’s instead briefly discuss the different types of nuclear weapons (fission, fusion, and boosted fission) and then see how we might be able to tell the difference.
When a uranium atoms splits a tremendous amount of energy is released. Breaking a chemical bond (which is what happens to conventional explosives) releases a few electron volts worth of energy; breaking an atomic nucleus releases about a hundred million times more energy. So splitting a single atom releases as much energy as about ten to a hundred million molecules reacting in a block of, say, C4. The trick is getting the atoms to start fissioning, and then keeping them fissioning until you have enough to make an explosion.

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As the tensions in the Asia-Pacific escalate further, the latest nuclear test performed by North Korea on the 4th of September, causing the equivalent of a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, renewed international concern over Pyongyang’s belligerence and its military capabilities. The blast, the biggest so far and considered to have been over four time bigger than the one that hit Hiroshima in 1945, accompanied the claim of having developed a hydrogen bomb.  Although the grounds for this claim remain limited, the test does show an unprecedented level of military sophistication that, coupled with the successful testing of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) in July, suggests that great progress has been made towards the development of a missile that is able to carry a miniaturized nuclear warhead and directly target American soil.  

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Call for papers

North Korea’s latest nuclear threat represents a dark reminder of the progress made by Kim-Joung-Un’s towards his military aspirations. When discussing its WMD development program and its growing threat to the region, however, the focus remains mostly on Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic capabilities, often at the expense of the issue of its Chemical and Biological stockpiles.

To get a better overview of the current concerns and countermeasures in place in South Korea, IB Consultancy had the pleasure to speak with Brig. Gen. (ret.) Woon Goh, Former CBR Defense Commander, as well Former Commander of the ROK Army CBRN School. Brig. Gen. (ret.) Goh graduated from the Korean Military Academy in 1985, where he received his Bachelor in Chemistry. In 2003, he became a Chemical Operational Officer in the Korean Army Headquarters and one year later Chemical Control Officer in the President Security Service for 3 years. He became the Head of Academic Affairs of the CBR School of the Korean Army and later the Head of Battle Development. He moved to the CBR Defense Command in 2009 as the Head J2/3 and he joined the Joint Chiefs Command in 2011 as the Head of the Chemical Branch J3

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During the NCT Europe 2017 event in Sonthofen, Germany, which took place from the 27th of June until the 29th of June, military, government and industry stakeholders had a unique chance to exchange thoughts and ideas with Syrian experts. The audience was honored by the presence of: Mr. Abdul Elah Fahed, former Secretary General of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, His Excellency Dr. Nizar Al Haraki, Ambassador to Qatar on behalf of the Coalition and Dr. Houssam Alnahhas, Coordinator for the CBRN Taskforce at the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), who joined us via a skype connection.

Two issues were identified and discussed. First Mr. Fahed appealed to the audience that “the inaction of the international community” poses a great challenge in getting rid of chemical weapons, which are clearly still being used. The Coalition’s Ambassador to Qatar, Nizar Haraki, stressed that the international community must set accountability for the use of these weapons as a top priority, adding that the repeated use of this type of warfare by the Assad regime poses a serious threat to international peace and security. >>>read more>>>.

This is the 29th issue of the new feature called the IBC Threat Assessment (IBC-TA) which we initiated in November 2014. It is intended to inform our readers about ongoing and emerging CRBNe-threats that need the attention of policymakers, experts and ordinary citizens. If left unattended these threats may result in grave consequences for different sectors of our societies and/or the security of ordinary citizens. As the threat environment is constantly changing existing regulations, crisis plans or security protocols are often insufficient and in need of adaptation or review. Every TA will cover a threat for each CBRNe category. The TA’s are based on open sources.

Topics covered in this issue:

  • Significant release of harmful chemical pollutants results in environmental threat in Texas
  • As 22 EU countries are hit by Fipronil pesticide scandal in the poultry sector questions are raised about the effectiveness of food security systems
  • Indonesian Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) terror cell dismantled that reportedly was involved in the development of a dirty bomb
  • In new provocation at the anniversary of its founding North Korea executes its 6th nuclear test
  • British Blockbuster bomb successfully dismantled outside city center of Frankfurt

The Threat Assessments are based on open sources. End date of collection: September 3, 2017.>>>read more>>>

Issue 49 | September 2017


The full listing of all CBRNe related events can be found at the

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