Friday, February 18, 2005

Uranium to Bombs

Today I was going through a report in Time about How Pakistan's A.Q. Khan outwitted Western intelligence to build a global nuclear-smuggling ring. I recomnd you to read the magazine since the online edition does not have the full article. As the facts has it "The simplest nuclear bomb is very simple indeed.". With sufficient fissile material in hand, a trained engineer could build a crude device without too much difficulty. The most basic design is that of the Hiroshima bomb, which fired two pieces of HEU at each other from opposite ends of an artillery tube. The bomb could be assembled at a basic machine shop and would fit in the back of a truck. If smuggled into the U.S.and detonated in a major metropolitan area, such a weapon could kill hundreds of thousands. But the difficulty in making the bomb is obtaining the fissile material i.e. Highly enriched Uranium (HEU). Manufacturing HEU is extremely difficult and requirs expertise unavailable to terrorist organisations. Unfortunatly HEU has been manufactured in huge quantities by countires like former soviet Union and could easily be lifted withoutout much difficulty. We could only hope that this terorist organisations are sensible enough and does use nuke as their means to War. In my next article I'll explain How the Uranium is enriched. Also read The Other Nuke Nightmare

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