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Thursday, June 04, 2015

Did a nuke go off in Yemen? (UPDATED)



I honestly don't know what to make of this one.

Several YouTube channels, along with a handful of "iffy" websites (including the often-outlandish Veterans Today), have alleged that a tactical nuclear explosion went off somewhere in Yemen on May 20 of this year. Although we have multiple videos showing the event from different angles and distances, we are never told the exact location of the bomb: See here and here.

[See the update at the end of this post for details about the location and date.]


Several sources say that "nuclear experts" have confirmed that this device was, in fact, nuclear. Oddly, these "experts" are never named.

YouTubers have identified this device as a neutron bomb, an assessment which I find very doubtful. The whole point of a neutron weapon is to minimize property damage while killing living organisms via the release of neutron radiation. We have no reports indicating that the inhabitants of a city in Yemen died from radioactivity exposure.

Other "experts" have suggested that the device is a bunker-buster designed to destroy a target buried deep underground. This suggestion makes a little more sense, especially when we consider the location of the explosion. A seemingly barren hillside located just outside of a large city would seem a reasonable location for an underground installation.

However, a bunker-buster works by burrowing beneath the surface and exploding under the ground, causing the earth to bubble upward. This does not seem to be happening in the footage from Yemen. Compare the videos embedded above to the series of photos visible to your right.

Side note: As noted above, one of the key promoters of this story has been Veteran's Today, a site which has, in the past, made a number of dubious assertions. For example, they published a story claiming that documents released by Edward Snowden revealed that the head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is a Mossad agent named Simon Elliot. Although Baghdadi is indeed a very mysterious fellow, this story is a hoax: No such revelation came from Snowden. (I don't see how he could have gained access to such a document in the first place.)

According to this blog, the Baghdadi/Elliot claim originated with an Iranian source. The Iranians either concocted a piece of disinformation, or they were themselves taken in by a hoax.

The afore-linked blog is a bit of a mystery in its own right, since it exists for the sole purpose of debunking the Baghdadi/Elliot claim. Although the argument is persuasive, the writing seems rather too professional. The enigmatic creator of the site is one Alan Kurtz, author of two obscure books attacking Bradley/Chelsea Manning and the Occupy movement. This rabbit hole may be worth exploring in greater depth at a later time.

Back to the Yemen mystery. Let's have no misunderstandings: I am not convinced that these videos depict a small-yield nuclear explosion. Nevertheless, I have decided to bring the matter to your attention, for three should-be-obvious reasons:

1. The explosion does seem to be extremely large -- and I can certainly understand why so many people consider it too large to be conventional.

2. I am hoping that one of my readers may be able to shed light on this mystery. Aside from the "Is this a nuke?" controversy, I would also like to know why there is a smaller "precursor" fireball in the same spot, just before the big boom. (The white "pixels" surrounding this precursor bomb have given rise to some rather weird claims.) The "pre-bomb" leads me to suspect that a weapons storage facility was targeted, and that the big explosion occurred when everything in that facility detonated all at once.

3. The visuals are just plain spectacular. Not to mention horrifying.

The fullest video is the one embedded at the top of this post; below, I shall embed other views. I'm not responsible for the claims made by the people who made these videos.

Although this video claims to debunk the "nuke" claim, the filmmaker doesn't really have much to say. He doesn't care much for Veteran's Today. Neither do I. But I'd still like to know more about what happened in Yemen.

There have also been claims that a nuclear explosion rocked Ukraine three months ago. If a nuclear device had detonated in that country, we would have had confirmation from monitors in Russia, the U.S., and elsewhere. This YouTube video indicates that a chemical plant was bombed.

Added note: Someone should write a book about the various "questioned nuke" claims that have been made over the years. If you search the byways of the internets, you'll find claims that there were at least three nuclear events before the Trinity explosion: One of them was allegedly the work of the Japanese while the other was a German bomb. The third alleged "proto-nuke" was, of course, the Port Chicago explosion near San Francisco. (I once had a landlady who had received a minor injury during that event. It was one hell of a blast, but I don't think that it was atomic.) Much later, in 1979, the ever-mysterious "Vela" event took place in the ocean between Africa and Antarctica. That tale will probably be told in a future post.

UPDATE: I have found out a little more about the Yemen explosion. Although a number of sites say that the event took place on May 20 of the this year, the same explosion appears in a YouTube video uploaded on May 12. We are told that what exploded was a Houthi weapons cache located in the hills overlooking the city of Sanaa. (Also see here.)

There was some coverage of the incident in mainstream sources -- see here. Weirdly, the WP dealt with the event at some length but edited their video to excise anything that looked nuke-ish. (No shockwave, no mushroom cloud.) The overall situation in Sanaa is covered in this remarkable VICE News mini-documentary.

The first YouTube video to claim that the explosion was nuclear may be found here. The uploader claims that the explosion took place on May 11.

So we now have a likely date -- May 11 -- and we know that the location was Sanaa. Although I doubt that we're dealing with a nuke, I'd still like to know just what happened.



Comments:
FAE: "Fuel Air Explosive."
 
Anon: Does your theory explain the "pre-bomb" fireball on the ground?

Maybe so, maybe so. It seems possible that the "pixels" might be the magnesium or aluminum particles used by an FAE.
 

No, but think of it this way: If someone seriously detonated an actual nuclear bomb it wouldn't be reported only in fringe publications.

Even a tiny tac nuke is going to cause very big waves because it means someone uncorked the bottle. Every nation would goto battle stations, the newswires would be filled with saber rattling, and things would change.

An FAE creates a very large explosion. It would create a mushroom cloud as it went up. It's relatively low-tech enough that any nation can do it, and it's not a nuclear weapon so it won't cause worldwide condemnation and the utter destruction of whatever state was stupid enough to do it.

Nukes are great as a deterrent. Great as a terror source. Great as a political expedient. They're also the one thing universally feared and reviled.

They're the only weapon better when unused.
 
Anon: Let's presume, for the sake of argument, that a small tactical nuke went off in Yemen. Let us further presume that the US was in on it, and therefore the government -- and its allies -- will not spill the beans about what really happened. Just how WOULD unfriendly nations find out that the bottle was uncorked?

I'm simply curious. As I said, that question is a hypothetical. Personally, right now I think that the FAE theory makes more sense.
 
[Let me begin by saying while it's irritating Blogger only mentions after the fact there is a 4,096-character limit on comment length, it's really irritating IT CAN'T COUNT!]


Speaking as someone who 'curated' hours of nuclear test footage for use in VJing (all of which is now in the possession of the FBI following last month's raid and seizure -- but that's a totally different story), I can say this looks nothing like an nuke footage I've seen. Granted, that's pretty much the equivalent of my claiming all photos of Flemish giant rabbits must be faked because I'd never seen one despite years of watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, but that still makes me Edward Teller compared to the assclowns on VT.

For pete's sake, fellows, if you're going to claim the 'scintillation' caused by 'neutrons' striking the CCD proves this to be a nuke, you should first (a) understand what such scintillation looks like and realize the video doesn't depict any of this, and (b) understand that neutrons striking the CCD don't cause scintillation: If anything, they cause dead (black) pixels. (CCD-based neutron cameras contain a special scintillator screen consisting of a phosphor-based material that converts neutrons to light; the CCD records the light flare, not the neutron.) A consumer-grade camera's CCD will scintillate in the presence of alpha particles -- if you were to disassemble the camera and expose the bare, unfiltered CCD to an alpha source; in situ, the camera's optics would most likely block them. As we saw at Fukushima, CCDs will also scintillate if exposed to extremely high -- as in 'lethal' -- levels of beta or gamma radiation. If the sparks recorded in the video were actually beta- or gamma-generated scintillation, the photographer and everyone else within miles of him or her would have been dead within minutes -- and during their last few moments on Earth would have had far more pressing concerns than logging onto YouTube.

While I'm at it, even though thermonuclear weapons (which a neutron bomb ain't) are two-stage devices, we're talking microseconds between stage 1 and stage 2: You don't get to count mississippis between the primary and secondary, as we see here.

And do I even need to point out that "mushroom cloud" <> "nuke?" (here's one from 1782.)

I also don't think this is a thermobaric weapon, such as an FAE. True, they are also two-stage devices, and the interval between stages is much longer than for a nuke -- possibly several mississippis or more -- they don't generate dual fireballs. In fact, they can't generate dual fireballs. The whole point of the first stage is to create a cloud of vaporized explosive that is then ignited by the second stage, so a flaming first stage would obviously be suboptimal. Similarly, only a pretty crappy thermobaric device would contain large enough particles of magnesium or aluminum to register as individual sparks. Instead, the goal is to create what is essentially magnesium or aluminum vapor with particle size verging on the atomic.

[continued]
 
[Let me begin by saying while it's irritating Blogger only mentions after the fact there is a 4,096-character limit on comment length, it's really irritating IT CAN'T COUNT!]

[Actually, what is really, really irritating is when it chokes because 'multiple attempts were made to edit the resource,' and then dumps the form, causing one to lose all of one's time and effort. Fortunately, I had dumped my unpublished comment into an offline editor -- in order to get it under the 4,096-character limit, not that that made the least damn difference -- so I'm not breaking things.]

[But I'm not here to talk about that: I'm here to talk about the draft....]


Speaking as someone who 'curated' hours of nuclear test footage for use in VJing (all of which is now in the possession of the FBI following last month's raid and seizure -- but that's a totally different story), I can say this looks nothing like an nuke footage I've seen. Granted, that's pretty much the equivalent of my claiming all photos of Flemish giant rabbits must be faked because I'd never seen one despite years of watching Bugs Bunny cartoons, but that still makes me Edward Teller compared to the assclowns on VT.

For pete's sake, fellows, if you're going to claim the 'scintillation' caused by 'neutrons' striking the CCD proves this to be a nuke, you should first (a) understand what such scintillation looks like and realize the video doesn't depict any of this, and (b) understand that neutrons striking the CCD don't cause scintillation: If anything, they cause dead (black) pixels. (CCD-based neutron cameras contain a special scintillator screen consisting of a phosphor-based material that converts neutrons to light; the CCD records the light flare, not the neutron.) A consumer-grade camera's CCD will scintillate in the presence of alpha particles -- if you were to disassemble the camera and expose the bare, unfiltered CCD to an alpha source; in situ, the camera's optics would most likely block them. As we saw at Fukushima, CCDs will also scintillate if exposed to extremely high -- as in 'lethal' -- levels of beta or gamma radiation. If the sparks recorded in the video were actually beta- or gamma-generated scintillation, the photographer and everyone else within miles of him or her would have been dead within minutes -- and during their last few moments on Earth would have had far more pressing concerns than logging onto YouTube.

While I'm at it, even though thermonuclear weapons (which a neutron bomb ain't) are two-stage devices, we're talking microseconds between stage 1 and stage 2: You don't get to count mississippis between the primary and secondary, as we see here.

And do I even need to point out that "mushroom cloud" <> "nuke?" (here's one from 1782.)

I also don't think this is a thermobaric weapon, such as an FAE. True, they are also two-stage devices, and the interval between stages is much longer than for a nuke -- possibly several mississippis or more -- they don't generate dual fireballs. In fact, they can't generate dual fireballs. The whole point of the first stage is to create a cloud of vaporized explosive that is then ignited by the second stage, so a flaming first stage would obviously be suboptimal. Similarly, only a pretty crappy thermobaric device would contain large enough particles of magnesium or aluminum to register as individual sparks. Instead, the goal is to create what is essentially magnesium or aluminum vapor with particle size verging on the atomic.

[continued]
 
[continued from previous]

No, I think you called it correctly: This is an airstrike on a munitions dump (or, possibly, a Scud site -- see below). The initial explosion is the dropped ordnance, while the much larger blast is everything stored at the site going up in flames.

In fact, it looks very similar to this video of a Saudi strike against a Scud site in Sanaa, Yemen -- posted on May 19th. I don't think it's the same event -- the Sanaa one doesn't have a noticeable first fireball -- but I won't swear to it. If these were indeed Scud sites, what we're seeing is mainly rocket fuel with a soup├žon of warheads blended in. Not something I'd feel particularly safe living next to -- or downwind of -- but also not a symbol of Saudi-Zionist genocide, despite what 'nuclear physicist and former IAEA inspector' [and I'm the frigging Queen of England] Jeff Smith may think.

(Incidentally, on May 20, 2001, a munitions dump in Al-Bayda province, Yemen, exploded, killing 14 and injuring 50. Daniel Estulin has probably already taken note of the date.)
 
The FAE theory still has the problem of why they would unleash it on a desolate hillside. An accident seems more likely. A fire sets off a weapons cache. If it was a nuke there would be identifiable fall out. The Americans knew when the Soviets developed a nuke because test detonations released radiation that could be detected a continent away. If even a small nuke went off in Yemem I'm confident the major powers and regional powers like Iran would know about it.
 

OK, so if the US did it don't you think that the Russian or Chinese media would be all over it? They'd know if it happened, and it wouldn't be a secret. The Yemenis would be screaming about it. Etc.

Replace the US with your choice of state, and the story is still the same. Sure the players change, but there's always someone hostile waiting to make political win out of it. "Can you believe the warlike Americans would do this?"

Using a nuke will provide every other nation with all the ammo in the world because the nuclear bomb is still forbidden.

This is strictly paranoids making a mountain out of a FAE .
 
I've appreciated your numerous previous posts, but this was an awesome post Maz. Sorry for not commenting on the original article, which documents a non-nuclear event....I mean large expletive explosion. So serene, yet so many dead people.
 
As the Anon of the FAE theory, I don't want to sound like an all encompassing expert on the matter, other than to suggest that FAEs generate a terriffically massive explosion, including a classic mushroom cloud, with very little in the way of high tech, and that second portion of the explosion looks like a fuel cloud going up.

I am perfectly fine to defer to others' opinions on any point of this matter except the tactical nuclear one, coz that's just bullshit paranoia.

As I said, and so did others, if someone uses a nuke it's not going to be a secret. It be.
 
The whole point of a neutron weapon is to minimize property damage while killing living organisms via the release of neutron radiation.

More precisely: the whole purpose of a neutron bomb is to stop a rapidly invading column of Russian tanks without rendering large portions of Germany uninhabitable or killing large numbers of German civilians (just speaking as someone who spent part of his career thinking about such things). Probably the single most effective piece of Cold War propaganda conducted by either side was the Soviet effort to paint "enhanced radiation" warheads as bombs that "destroy people and not property".

They'd be pretty much useless in Yemen.
 
While I'm pretty sure now that the "big boom" was a weapons cache going up, I'm still intrigued by the fireball that precedes it. Or fireballS, since more than one was on that mountain side.

It IS strange. I wasn't aware of a weapon that causes a contained fireball to burn in a barren area where there seems to be no vegetation to fuel the fire. And those sparks do look unusual.

I think that this is something new.

Notice that the mainstream news in the US made no mention of these fireballs, even though the big conventional explosion that DID happen on May 20 received coverage in the New York Times.

So -- no nuke. But...what?
 
Definitely an ammo dump, watch the last video, a lot of subsequent smaller explosions of ordinance not initially detonated continue to go off for some time.
 
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