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September 21, 2009 6:52 PM   Subscribe

Removing 600 kilos of enriched U-235: the story of how, in 1994, the United States secretly removed from Kazakhstan enough purified uranium to make 24 nuclear weapons. (Full article with one photo.) Russian bomb-grade uranium is now being used in U.S. power plants.
posted by exogenous (50 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
...Yoink.
posted by mockjovial at 6:54 PM on September 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


Nuclear weapons are upsetting. So I'm going to forget this and think about Spies Like Us instead.

Great post though.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:59 PM on September 21, 2009


"Epilogue: Since that 1994 report, many of the facilities with unguarded nuclear material in the former Soviet Union have undergone security upgrades. By 2008, more than 70 percent of the buildings with weapons-usable nuclear materials had been fortified, although the uranium and plutonium were still spread across more than 200 locations."

In the words of Blake*, "I've gone to bed with happier thoughts."

Henry, that is.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:09 PM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nuclear weapons used as power plant material is good, though. Oh, the quandry!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:10 PM on September 21, 2009


So.... if you need 55 pounds of the stuff for one bomb, is that really "bomb grade"?
posted by smackfu at 7:19 PM on September 21, 2009


Good post. I rely on MF for my daily update on how bleak our future is; the last bit of the article about how 30% of nuclear material in the former Soviet Union is still largely unprotected - and how that's a major improvement - topped me up for the night.
posted by pkingdesign at 7:20 PM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


You really don't want to know that there's a mid-East faction running about that has a nuclear bomb on its flag, then. They've said they intend to use one. I think it might have been a Hamas faction, but I'm not really sure on that. I remember the flag and mission statement being confirmed on-air on a show like TDS, Bill Maher, something like that, by someone who was in a position to have seen it with his own eyes.

Anyhoo, I find that to be really scary.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:25 PM on September 21, 2009


To be honest, I'm not really used to hearing any sort of silver lining to these things, so I'm going to file this under "optimism."

Also, re: the facilities being horribly unguarded, would it be possible to lay landmines around them or something so that we would at least make the places so inhospitable to humans in the interim before we figure out some way to either move the materials or get the facility properly guarded? Presumably, we have the technology to make a mine that can reliably be wirelessly shut off. Or maybe we could just have lightly armed UAVs fly over.

I know these are the kind of solutions drunk relatives come up with at Thanksgiving, but I'd seriously feel more comfortable even having this kind of stuff go on. One nuclear attack would be so awful that I can't really bring myself to worry too much about humanity.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:31 PM on September 21, 2009


It's kind of strange that the stuff is still going to Paducah, Kentucky for receiving, which has been processing uranium for almost 60 years. You would expect it to go to a secret underground fortress miles below the earth's crust, but it's just .. Kentucky. Kinda comforting in a way.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:32 PM on September 21, 2009


So there has been all this nuclear material lying around for almost 20 years and states that we are told want to build bombs and yet they haven't.

Why didn't Syria, Iran or Iraq just obtain the stuff if there is so much poorly protected stuff there.

Or did India, Pakistan and North Korea use it as well? Israel? China?

Curious.
posted by sien at 7:42 PM on September 21, 2009


RobotVoodooPower, you would be surprised that most of the US nuclear fuel and arsenal is housed in the most innocuous of places. Idaho, New Mexico and Kentucky. We followed the same path as the Soviets, put it all in places that are remote and out of the way.
posted by rabbitsnake at 7:43 PM on September 21, 2009


The loose nuclear material in the former Soviet republics is a huge huge threat.

Guess who cut the funding to the programs to clean it up? George W. "National Security" Bush. Haven't paid attention to Obama's stance on this; gonna assume that like his predecessor he prefers to focus on fake security threats like Afghanistan, rather than real ones.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:49 PM on September 21, 2009 [4 favorites]



So there has been all this nuclear material lying around for almost 20 years and states that we are told want to build bombs and yet they haven't.

Why didn't Syria, Iran or Iraq just obtain the stuff if there is so much poorly protected stuff there.


I assume all those states have or can get uranium. Having nuclear material is not the same as knowing how to make a bomb out of it. Thus the "dirty bomb" threat, which is basically the kind of "nuclear bomb" any jerk can make, because you just fling nuclear material about and hope someone gets sick. It's extraordinary ineffective, and no one would even consider it if they knew how to build a real nuke.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:53 PM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


So.... if you need 55 pounds of the stuff for one bomb, is that really "bomb grade"?

"A rough estimate of average plutonium and HEU in deployed thermonuclear weapons can be obtained by dividing the estimated total stock of weapons fissile materials possessed by Russia and the United States at the end of the Cold War by the sum of the maximum numbers of nuclear weapons that each deployed during the Cold War: about 3 kg of plutonium and 25 kg of HEU." -IFPM International Panel on Fissile Materials

So, yeah.
posted by cog_nate at 7:53 PM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I assume all those states have or can get uranium. Having nuclear material is not the same as knowing how to make a bomb out of it.

My (limited) understanding is that it's not terribly difficult to make a nuclear bomb out of enriched Uranium; the Uranium enrichment process itself is a far more complicated affair. I could have that wrong though.
posted by Brak at 8:32 PM on September 21, 2009


So.... if you need 55 pounds of the stuff for one bomb, is that really "bomb grade"?

Uranium is stupidly dense.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:34 PM on September 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Six and a half baseball-size spheres is 55 pounds of uranium, more-or-less.
posted by maxwelton at 8:36 PM on September 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is pretty sweet. Thanks for posting.

When it was over, the U.S. government paid Kazakhstan about $27 million for the cache.

That is....surprisingly classy for official US business!

Also, re: scary nuclear weapons: Meh...making an atomic bomb is easy. The tricky part is launching it into space so it will rain death upon your enemies halfway around the world. There's a very short list of countries which have figured that part out.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:00 PM on September 21, 2009


In a White House ceremony, Clinton praised Nazarbayev's "great courage, vision and leadership" and announced that U.S. aid to Kazakhstan would triple, to $311 million. No mention was made of uranium.

I KNEW this sort of thing went on in international politics, but you rarely get conclusive verification of it. Cool. Sort of.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:03 PM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Six and a half baseball-size spheres is 55 pounds of uranium, more-or-less.

I was going to say that seems like way more than you need but then I realized everything I know about building nuclear bombs is from Tom Clancy books so.... yeah.
posted by smackfu at 9:04 PM on September 21, 2009


The actual process of making a simple fission bomb really isn't difficult at all. It's apparently easy to find the plans for a 'slug' device. The uranium is machined extremely finely into two pieces. (it takes an extremely high-quality machine shop to get the tolerances fine enough, and of course they have to be able to work on freaking uranium.) One part has most of the mass, with a hole in the middle. The rest of it is mounted in a tube on an explosive charge.

When the bomb is detonated, the simple chemical charge hurls the small piece into the big chunk. The extremely carefully machined parts mesh up into a nearly perfect whole shape -- I presume a sphere, although I don't know for sure. It does not, of course, stay a sphere for very damn long after impact.

The problem with this kind of device is that it's large and heavy. It probably takes more than the 55kg mentioned; this type of bomb is supposed to be very big and very hard to move. There's no way to mount it on a missile; you can barely carry it with a huge bomber. The difficult part of making a nuclear bomb isn't making a boom, it's making a small package that goes boom.

Most of the advances in nuclear weapons were oriented around making them smaller. They basically had to come up with ways to compress subcritical masses of uranium tightly enough (and perfectly enough) that they would go critical and explode. Obviously, I don't know the details, but shaped charges around a sphere are one likely approach. The outer explosion happens, making a small boom and compressing the uranium, which then goes critical in its hypercompressed state, and makes a BIG boom. The more perfectly you can manage the compression, the more yield you can get out of a given amount of uranium.

This is also how they do fusion bombs, except now they use a uranium or plutonium bomb to compress another substance inside a perfectly-shaped sphere. This is, apparently, extremely difficult to get correct. I'm not sure how the uranium is detonated, but once it goes off, it compresses the hydrogen or tritium, which fuses, making a GIGANTIC explosion. These are the city-wrecker bombs; in theory, they could probably crack the Earth's crust.

Apparently, most modern nuclear weapons are dial-a-yield. There's a control on the outside where you set the megatonnage you want: the bomb injects the right amount of tritium into the center assembly right before detonation. So you could use the exact same bomb as either a regular nuclear weapon, or a fusion device that would go up to some obscene yield level.

Per Wikipedia, there are apparently even more complex ways to do dial-a-yield, using the energy of the nuke to drive particle accelerators to trigger fusion reactions at precisely the correct time during the detonation sequence, but I really have no clue how they work.

Overall: if you get enough uranium, you can easily make a physically large bomb that makes a big explosion. But making a SMALL nuke, that's hard. Iran can probably build a perfectly functional nuclear weapon right now, but they probably can't make them small enough to deliver via missile. Getting them small enough to be a threat to the United States is a long way off; getting them to the medium size they'd need to attack Israel would be much easier.
posted by Malor at 9:15 PM on September 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


"Why didn't Syria, Iran or Iraq just obtain the stuff if there is so much poorly protected stuff there."

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research are surprisingly well liked organizations.
And the IEA does a lot of inspections with the World Institute for Nuclear Security. Pretty easy to detect what you're enriching the stuff for.

(Always thought about a post on the CTR and related activities.)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:53 PM on September 21, 2009


once it goes off, it compresses the hydrogen or tritium, which fuses, making a GIGANTIC explosion

AFAIK, most of the energy in a thermonuclear explosion is coming from fission.

You set off a "small" device, which is a fusion-boosted fission bomb, using chemical explosives to compress the core. The primary sounds pretty much like you're describing a fusion bomb: concentric spheres of explosives, U-238, fusile material, U-235 or plutonium, and a neutron-spewing sparkplug. You compress it and the U-235 fissions which sets off fusion which then fissions the U-238 layer.

The resulting explosion then, in ways laypeople aren't sure about, compresses the secondary, which has both fission and fusion components, during those few nanoseconds while the primary's explosion is still contained within the warhead's casing. The secondary isn't inside the primary, though, it's a separate component within the warhead's casing.

In large part, it reads like the fusion components of primary and secondary are primarily intended to spray one holy whopping shitload of neutrons at the fissile components, which then fission like a motherfucker. Apparently you can even use U-238 as a fissile material here because there are that many neutrons flying around.

Anyway, it reads like it's not even as simple as "little bomb sets off fusion," which means that getting the design of an efficient bomb right is probably even harder than you or I think. Really interesting shit. Makes me glad I know fuck-all about physics because nuclear weapons design sounds like a really interesting, fussy project.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:00 PM on September 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Here's some news that will not improve your day: AQ Khan has apparently spilled the beans on a proliferation nexus between China, North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Libya.
posted by vanar sena at 10:02 PM on September 21, 2009


ROU_Xenophobe: It sounds like you understand it better than I do. :) I was under the impression that fusion weapons were just layered devices, and that the fusion did most of the work, but since I haven't spent all that much time on it, I'm inclined to take your opinion as likely better-informed.

Well, I was gonna leave it at that, but then I actually went and looked it up. As it turns out (per Wikipedia, anyway), there are three kinds of nuclear weapon. There's the standard sort I was talking about, and then 'hydrogen boosted' fission, which is what I was also talking about without fully realizing it. A small fusion reaction in the center of the mass generates a lot more neutrons. As you say, it's not the fusion itself that does the work. Rather, the fusion reaction spits out a ton of extra neutrons, which in turn set off a lot more of the plutonium, so the bomb explodes much more completely. Wikipedia says that arrangement can about double the yield from the same amount of fissile material.

Then the type of bomb that you're talking about uses the neutron flux from an initial, regular nuke to compress a second bomb much more thoroughly than any chemical explosive ever could. The neutrons physically slam into the second bomb, compressing it extraordinarily tightly. Both bombs are similar to one another, but because the secondary is compressed by a nuke instead of something vaguely C4-equivalent, it makes a REALLY big explosion from about the same amount of raw material. So you get little boom, big boom, earth-shattering kaboom. :)

All that, of course, is presuming that Wikipedia is actually correct, and it may not be, what with all the classified info involved. :)

It DOES sound like an absolutely fascinating problem, having to model things so perfectly at the microsecond scale. Everything has to happen so, so quickly, before the outer casing breaks apart. But man, what a dismal thing to have to go home with every night, knowing that you're making ways to kill millions of people. :( I'd much rather work on the simpler, but much less dangerous, nuclear power.
posted by Malor at 10:37 PM on September 21, 2009


Malor, I think you're correct, but you have the scale wrong on the "slug" (or "gun") device. All that is required is enough mass to start a supercritical chain reaction put together quickly enough that it doesn't blow apart before it really gets going (if it does, it just becomes a "dirty bomb" which spreads toxic radioactive material over a relatively small area).

The "little boy" easily fit within the confines of a regular B-29 engine bay; I think you could probably get the size down considerably with modern tech and explosives, but I'm just talking out of my ass on that point. Little boy was over-designed as it absolutely had to work. Interestingly, they fired a doughnut down to surround a plug, not the other way around. I'm sure there's an advantage to this.

I would guess any "homemade" nuke used by terrorists would be this design, as it is pretty easy, technically once you have the materials.

A supercritical mass of plutonium 239 is apparently a sphere less than 4" across; of uranium 235 it's a sphere less than 7" across (I guess practically you cannot make a gun-type weapon out of plutonium as it tends to decay into materials that will go critical in the masses you've assembled to make the gun). The challenge is getting the slug into the sphere as quickly as possible, which usually means firing it from a couple of feet away in what amounts to a gun barrel.

It's been a few years since I read about this, but I believe the absolute machining doesn't need to within microns, and you don't want to make any mistakes in your calculations of mass.

To help the device along, I recall you want to put a disc of material on the end of the slug which, when it strikes the bottom of the barrel releases a bunch of neutrons to get things going ASAP. I think polonium and beryllium were used in little boy.

To anyone at all interested in this stuff, I cannot recommend Richard Rhodes "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" highly enough.
posted by maxwelton at 10:57 PM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am also now on a terrorist watch list based on the last half hour's google searches.
posted by maxwelton at 11:01 PM on September 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


When the bomb is detonated, the simple chemical charge hurls the small piece into the big chunk.

actually, some beans were spilled semi-recently and it has been determined that the big chunk is/was fired into the small chunk.

This is due to the geometry of getting two supercritical masses together and the neutron tamper arrangement or something. It's in wikipedia.

I think you could probably get the size down considerably with modern tech and explosives

"The Davy Crockett's warhead was launched from either a 120-millimeter (M-28) or 155-millimeter (M-29) recoilless rifle. The 155 millimeter version, which became the standard issue, had a maximum range of 2.49 miles and could be fired from either a ground tripod mount or from a specially designed jeep mount. The system was deployed with U.S. Army from 1961 to 1971, and over 2,100 were produced."
posted by Palamedes at 11:11 PM on September 21, 2009



So what if the plane had crashed on the return home? Would it have been a local or more spread out fall out? (Or no fall out at all? I got a little lost in the explanations up thread.)
posted by dealing away at 11:24 PM on September 21, 2009


The conspiracy theorist in me says that much of the noise about how there is a whole lot of unsecured nuclear material laying around in the former USSR, ripe for the taking by determined terrorists and other unspecified bad actors, is a huge sting operation. That, in fact, it is incredibly hard to get this stuff and stories to the contrary are clever bait for a trap.

This is how the conspiracy theorist in me helps me sleep at night
posted by moonbiter at 12:30 AM on September 22, 2009


So what if the plane had crashed on the return home? Would it have been a local or more spread out fall out? (Or no fall out at all? I got a little lost in the explanations up thread.)
posted by dealing away at 11:24 PM on September 21 [+] [!]


Uranium is not that toxic and it's non-soluble. It would have just ended up as a few hard dense chunks of metal embedded near the crash site.
posted by atrazine at 1:29 AM on September 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Read the book 'Mushroom: The True Story of the A-Bomb Kid'. A Princeton student, John Aristotle Philips, designed a small fission bomb as a class assignment using mostly publicly available information, suitcase-sized more or less. He couldn't figure out one particular aspect of it (the shape of the explosive charge used to blow the two fissile pieces together or something like that), so he social-engineered someone working in the government, who GAVE him the final piece of the puzzle, and tada, he had the design for a functional suitcase nuke. Suddenly he was being stalked by Middle Easterners wanting to buy his design, and the U.S. government classified his paper (which is still classified and probably always will be). He opened up a pizza business on campus after that, then later went into politics where he was defeated by Republicans, and now he does some kind of political consulting or whatnot.

So it can't be THAT hard. Dude did it 32 years ago with publicly available information and one small helping hand from a (surely fired) gubment employee.
posted by jamstigator at 2:18 AM on September 22, 2009


So it can't be THAT hard. Dude did it 32 years ago...

Did he get to blow it up? Because this is kind of an important test of your design.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:37 AM on September 22, 2009


This information is so widely distributed that I can't imagine getting in trouble for it, so here's how to build a fusion bomb (along with a lot of discussion related to the publication of these instructions).
posted by exogenous at 5:13 AM on September 22, 2009


I am also now on a terrorist watch list based on the last half hour's google searches.

and

Read the book 'Mushroom: The True Story of the A-Bomb Kid'. A Princeton student, John Aristotle Philips, designed a small fission bomb as a class assignment using mostly publicly available information, suitcase-sized more or less.


We had a physics teacher in school who was pretty unflappable normally, but who'd go off on giddy tangents like maxwelton when the subject of nuclear weapons came up, speculating on hexafluoride and beryllium. To a bunch of 15 year olds. We started a rumour he was the Phillips guy mentioned above. Sorry about that, Mr. [redacted].
posted by kersplunk at 5:26 AM on September 22, 2009


it reads like the fusion components of primary and secondary are primarily intended to spray one holy whopping shitload of neutrons at the fissile components, which then fission like a motherfucker.

I wouldn't explain it to my mother like that, but yeah - that's the idea :)
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:06 AM on September 22, 2009


Why didn't Syria, Iran or Iraq just obtain the stuff if there is so much poorly protected stuff there.

A few reasons...
  • Because building a working device is a lot harder than it might appear from reading the internet.
  • Because it's easier to build a big working device than a small working device…
  • …but then you've got the problem of payload delivery. (rockets? not long-range enough; drones? don't have the technology; bombers? yeah, right; etc.)
  • Because, presumably if you've only got a few hundred kilograms of the stuff, you've only got a couple of "shots" (maybe 10 if you had the whole 600kg mentioned). So, you can't afford to waste material during the testing phase of construction, and you can't afford for it to not work if you've only got one or two of them to lob at an enemy.
The last point is probably the most critical (if you'll pardon the pun). If you don't have an entire enrichment industry ready and raring to go, you might as well not have anything. Because otherwise you've got giant crosshairs painted on your back.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:09 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because building a working device is a lot harder than it might appear from reading the internet.

Pretty hard to debug too. Your explosives almost certainly did go off, because that's the easy part, so the thing is in highly radioactive pieces after a failure.
posted by smackfu at 6:30 AM on September 22, 2009


The conspiracy theorist in me says that much of the noise about how there is a whole lot of unsecured nuclear material laying around in the former USSR, ripe for the taking by determined terrorists and other unspecified bad actors, is a huge sting operation. That, in fact, it is incredibly hard to get this stuff and stories to the contrary are clever bait for a trap.

See also "Red Mercury". Which I posted about once.
posted by rongorongo at 6:45 AM on September 22, 2009


Sure, blowing it up is THE most important test of a design. But a not-too-shabby secondary test is if you submit a design and the government shows up and disappears it and you're suddenly hounded by Middle Easterners loaded with cash. That's probably *some* indication that the design was scarily good. Apparently our government thought so, anyway, and I've heard they've produced a bomb or two themselves.
posted by jamstigator at 8:26 AM on September 22, 2009


The conspiracy theorist in me says that much of the noise about how there is a whole lot of unsecured nuclear material laying around in the former USSR, ripe for the taking by determined terrorists and other unspecified bad actors, is a huge sting operation. That, in fact, it is incredibly hard to get this stuff and stories to the contrary are clever bait for a trap.

I don't have a link because I read the story years and years ago, but there are quite a few people who suspect that some weird religious cult dentonated a nuclear bomb in the Australian outback... which struck me as just weird enough to be true.
posted by Deep Dish at 8:32 AM on September 22, 2009


"but then you've got the problem of payload delivery. (rockets? not long-range enough; drones? don't have the technology; bombers? yeah, right; etc.)"

For a terrorist organization though a bomber is pretty easy I would think. Even little single engine planes running regular gas can haul four people. Purchase of a DC-3 or it's semi modern equivalent and building the bomb inside would seem to be a simple matter.
posted by Mitheral at 8:38 AM on September 22, 2009


some weird religious cult dentonated a nuclear bomb in the Australian outback...

That was Aum Shinrikyo, and no, it very likely wasn't a nuclear bomb but rather a meteorite impact. They wanted to buy a bomb and also tried developing a program to make one -- they went so far as to purchase property in the Australian outback to mine for uranium, but that project failed. Interesting rundown of Aum Shinrikyo's various efforts here (pgs. 5-22).
posted by cog_nate at 9:03 AM on September 22, 2009


It is extremely unlikely that it was a meteorite:
Our analysis suggests the observations are consistent with a meteorite scenario - an intriguing but unconfirmed possibility …about every six years an iron meteor with 1 kT explosive power would be expected to impact on land and generate a seismic event comparable to the May 28 event.
And every bajillion years, said meteor would be expected to impact on Aum Shinrikyo land.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:33 AM on September 22, 2009


"But a not-too-shabby secondary test is if you submit a design and the government shows up and disappears it and you're suddenly hounded by Middle Easterners loaded with cash"

Skater buddy of mine and his weird uncle (or maybe he was just a pedophile or something?) did something like this only they substituted used pinball machine parts in a shiny bomb casing.

Somehow the Libyan terrorists he sold the stuff to had millions of dollars and could smuggle and openly use battlefield weaponry like RPGs in the suburbs but they really skimped on their transportation. Bought a used VW minibus from some hippie. And they must have bought some AK-47 knock offs because my uncle who's in the FBI was one of the guys who brought them in, he said that gun almost never jams.
Plus they were wearing Saudi head coverings. Weird.

Yeah, anyway the guy was some sort of mad genius. But he bought a DeLorean. Anyway, his dad was a real geek but he was this big writer or something, supposedly he was abducted by aliens, and he sued Chuck Berry over the rights to his music, I don't know it gets all mixed up in my head.
My dad knew the guy in high school back in the 50's and said he was a real loser. But I guess he was friends with the designer Calvin Klein who I guess was a real tough guy in high school. I thought Klein lived in New York as a kid....
Anyway, yeah, Doc Brown is still wanted for questioning in the matter of the theft of plutonium from the Pacific Nuclear Research Facility back in Oct., 1985.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:46 AM on September 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


But a not-too-shabby secondary test is if you submit a design and the government shows up and disappears it and you're suddenly hounded by Middle Easterners loaded with cash.

I don't mean to sound contrary, but I think this is a clear case of Hanlon's Razor: Neither governments nor cash-heavy Middle Easterners are known for their subtlety and discretion, and would rather err on the side of picking up a potential loose nuke versus expending some effort to come up with a dud. This was 1977 after all, and the Cold War was still on: a pretend bomb could be as dangerous as a real bomb if it made the people with their finger on the button feel twitchy.

Anyway, Wikipedia says Freeman Dyson thought the bomb was not functional, so I am obliged to agree or risk my Scientific Establishment Membership Card.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:03 PM on September 22, 2009


I suppose one of the "benefits" of all of the Cold War era technology the US maintains is that there's pretty much no way that a nation like Iran or North Korea can conduct any sort of test of a of nuclear weapon without it being detected. This would seem to make it much more likely that should they ever acquire one, we'll find out when it fails and turns into a (probably not very effective) dirty bomb.
posted by feloniousmonk at 6:39 PM on September 22, 2009


[sarcasm] I think we ought to just open source this. Find out all we can about making a nuclear bomb and make sure we put all that information on public forums so that the information makes it to as many people as possible. Yeah, this is all a really great idea. Nothing but good will come of it. And that's what I want to spend my effort in life doing: good things just like this. [/sarcasm]

[excuse] But the information is already out there. I'm just organnizing and repeating what can be found everywhere. [/excuse]
posted by eye of newt at 8:39 PM on September 22, 2009


Deadhand, the automatic nuclear response. If it detects an attack on Russia, all hell breaks loose.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:07 AM on September 23, 2009


You know, the thought occurs, a few days later: if the public plans for atomic devices on the Internet really worked, North Korea's first bomb probably wouldn't have been a fizzle.
posted by Malor at 5:40 PM on September 24, 2009


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