Did the Aum Shinrikyo Detonate a Nuclear Bomb in the Australian Outback?

This thread on Reddit investigates the terrifying possibility that the Japanese Doomsday Cult Aum Shinrikyo, most famous for their gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, got their hands on a nuclear bomb and set it off in the Australian outback in 1993.

Everyone agrees that something cataclysmic happened out there that year:

Late on the evening of May 28, 1993, something shattered the calm of the Australian outback and radiated shock waves outward across hundreds of miles of scrub and desert. Around the same time, truck drivers crossing the region and gold prospectors camping nearby saw the dark sky illuminated by bright flashes, and they and other people heard the distant rumble of loud explosions.*

But while many chalk up the event a meteor. Others, including the United States Government have activly investigated the possibility Aum Shinrikyo’s involvement. From the Reddit post:

-Senate investigators say the cult recruited at least two nuclear scientists in Russia.

-Notebooks later seized from Mr. Hayakawa show he wanted to buy the ultimate munition there. In one entry, he asked, ”How much is a nuclear warhead?” and listed several prices.

-Aum Shinrikyo, or Supreme Truth, turned out to have accumulated some $1 billion and to have won more than 50,000 converts in at least six countries.

-Dr. Gregory van der Vink, head of the science investigation, said in an interview. ”But the group was into biological and chemical weapons and was attempting to acquire nuclear ones. I’m still amazed.”

-At the ranch, investigators found that the sect had been mining uranium.

-Investigators discovered that the cult, Aum Shinrikyo, had tried to buy Russian nuclear warheads and had set up an advanced laboratory

-The site has a known uranium deposit.

-Documents seized from Mr. Hayakawa include some 10 pages written during his visit to Australia in April and May 1993 that refer to the whereabouts of Australian properties rich in uranium, including one reference praising the high quality of the ore.

-Seismic observatories in Australia tracked the event to a location 28.47 degrees south latitude, 121.73 degrees east longitude, a remote area near the cult’s ranch.

-People in the area saw the sky blaze, heard loud explosions and felt the ground shake, in one case knocking beer cans off a table.

-Mr. Mason noted that earthquakes were very rare in the region and that mining explosions were illegal at night. ”I currently believe that a nuke is a very real possibility but a meteorite and an earthquake cannot be ruled out either,” he wrote Senate investigators in October 1995.

-Eventually, the IRIS team calculated that the event was 170 times larger than the largest mining explosion ever recorded in the Australian region, to helping rule out that possibility. The disturbance was calculated as having the force of a small nuclear explosion.


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