Thursday, April 15, 2010

HEU another shibboleth

A comment in response a new post by DV82XL from Bravenewclimate.
Turning the HEU issue into a shibboleth is not a good idea. The most likely way HEU is going to pass into the hands of terrorists is for a nuclear armed state to break down. In that case, HEU might be given or sold to terrorists. But what the terrorists would prefer in those circumstances would be nuclear weapons drawn from existing stockpiles. An existing nuclear weapon is just going to ne so much more reliable, than a made from scratch, untested, crude nuclear weapon, made by terrorists in some jungle lab. It would be far better, in the eyes of our terrorists, to acquire say, a warhead made in Pakistan, and built by following a detailed design and manufacturing instructions to a pre-tested warhead, acquired by Pakistan from China. Not that China would ever sell or give Pakistan details on how to build a nuclear weapon, of course. And not that any member of the Pakistani military would ever have the slightest sympathy with the goals and methods of terrorists, of if such a person did exist, would have access to the Pakistani stockpile of nuclear weapons.

The HEU shibboleth is likely to bite the future of nuclear power. The preferred fuel for LFTRs is pure U-233. It is possible to denature the core U-233 with U-238, but this would have some undesirable consequences, including the production of plutonium.

Would building LFTRs in nuclear armed nations lead to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorists? I would argue that LFTR construction in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, India, Brazil. Mexico, Canada, Poland, etc., would not increase the likelihood that terrorists will acquire nuclear weapons. But if we don’t have anything to worry about, a whole class of academic experts would be out of their jobs.


SteveK9 said...

Not related, but the video with Professor ALEKLETT comes on every time this page is loaded. Don't know if that is the intention or not.

DV8 2XL said...

I want to thank you for your thoughtful and supportive comments on BNC in the comments to my article.


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