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Posted: 1/4/2006 4:26:12 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/4/2006 4:26:59 AM EDT by vito113]
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 4:33:20 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/4/2006 4:34:44 AM EDT by jbombelli]
Anybody who has studied nuclear physics in college can come up with the formula for a nuclear weapon. They're really not that difficult to design anymore. The hard part was PIONEERING the designs. These days the hard part is obtaining the weapons-grade plutonium.

edited to add: Still, that isn't very smart. Who ever accused the CIA of being smart about the way they do things? I guarantee it was some bumbling beaurocrat who altered the formula, not a nuclear weapons engineer.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 4:43:49 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 4:44:02 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 4:49:33 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 4:59:39 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 5:02:25 AM EDT
The next Iranian (etc) guy with some sympathy for the USA will think twice before helping us out, those agents are probably dead and the same thing for their family.

The person that screwed that up should be jailed.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 5:02:41 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By jbombelli:
Anybody who has studied nuclear physics in college can come up with the formula for a nuclear weapon. They're really not that difficult to design anymore. The hard part was PIONEERING the designs. These days the hard part is obtaining the weapons-grade plutonium.

edited to add: Still, that isn't very smart. Who ever accused the CIA of being smart about the way they do things? I guarantee it was some bumbling beaurocrat who altered the formula, not a nuclear weapons engineer.



True, the basic physics are very easy now, but being handed a set of engineering blueprints for a proven design is a gold mine! With modern CNC machine tools the high precision parts are easy to make.

What concerns me is the idea of passing on a Russian design. The Iranians, (and the Pakistanis, Syrians, NK), use a Chinese design, big ,heavy and crude which limits the range of their missles. Russian bombs are much smaller and more sophisticated and give more bang for your buck.

ANdy




For every step up in design you increase your difficulty . . . being able to manufacture a more complex, more powerful bomb is the hardest part. That may be what they are working on, developing a machining process that CAN do the necessary steps (without having to radiate their best machinist). CNC machines are great . . . if they can handle the radioactive materials for any length of time.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 5:47:19 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 5:54:49 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By Jarhead_22:

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By Jarhead_22:
As much fun as it would be to buy that, I tend to believe that it was A.Q. Khan who gave Iran what they needed.



That's a given, Khan has admitted to doing so.

ANdy


But someone has come up with this CIA story to what end?



This CIA incident apparently happened in 2000. Khan only admitted to supplying bomb technology to Libya, NK and Iran in a TV interview in Feb 2004.

ANdy



He admitted to it in 2004...so that means he gave it to them the same year? Even if that were true (and it's not likely), and even if this equally unlikely CIA operation actually happened, all they did was give them a design three years earlier than they would have gotten one already.
That said, the CIA has bungled badly in the past and frankly they are more like a separate, beurocratic government now than an intelligence agency.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 6:27:11 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/4/2006 6:28:44 AM EDT by vito113]
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 6:35:21 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Jarhead_22:
As much fun as it would be to buy that, I tend to believe that it was A.Q. Khan who gave Iran what they needed.



Yeah, the Iranians didn't need any spies or CIA keystone kops operation. AQ Khan was pimping out a Chinese design and enrichment technology to anyone with cash. He even approached Saddam, but the Iraqis thought it was an American sting.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 6:48:01 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 7:21:11 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By RikWriter:

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By Jarhead_22:

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By Jarhead_22:
As much fun as it would be to buy that, I tend to believe that it was A.Q. Khan who gave Iran what they needed.


That's a given, Khan has admitted to doing so.

ANdy


But someone has come up with this CIA story to what end?


<snip>


<snip>



Well Rick, it seems Khan has been a very naughty boy for a very long time!

<snip>

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.Q._Khan


"On February 5, 2004, General Pervez Musharraf announced that he had pardoned Khan."

From your wikipedia link.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 7:28:49 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Jarhead_22:

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By Jarhead_22:
As much fun as it would be to buy that, I tend to believe that it was A.Q. Khan who gave Iran what they needed.



That's a given, Khan has admitted to doing so.

ANdy


But someone has come up with this CIA story to what end?



To sell books, silly!
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 7:39:35 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By jbombelli:
Anybody who has studied nuclear physics in college can come up with the formula for a nuclear weapon. They're really not that difficult to design anymore. The hard part was PIONEERING the designs. These days the hard part is obtaining the weapons-grade plutonium.

edited to add: Still, that isn't very smart. Who ever accused the CIA of being smart about the way they do things? I guarantee it was some bumbling beaurocrat who altered the formula, not a nuclear weapons engineer.



True, the basic physics are very easy now, but being handed a set of engineering blueprints for a proven design is a gold mine! With modern CNC machine tools the high precision parts are easy to make.

What concerns me is the idea of passing on a Russian design. The Iranians, (and the Pakistanis, Syrians, NK), use a Chinese design, big ,heavy and crude which limits the range of their missles. Russian bombs are much smaller and more sophisticated and give more bang for your buck.

ANdy



I read an article by a professor of nuclear physics some time back who wanted to know how long it would take to design a workable nuclear weapon from scratch. Without any further instruction, he told a first-year engineering student to go to the library and see if he could come up with a workable design.

Forty hours later, the student was back with a design that the prof determined was entirely workable, and could be made from ordinary products fairly easily available to anyone (except for the fissionable material.)

The design consisted of an old howitzer barrel, which could be had at various places. It was capped at one end and a lump of fissionable material would be placed down at that end. On the other end, he put another cap with another block of fissionable material, sitting on top of a nice lump of dynamite. This design was to be detonated by somebody smacking the top of the bomb with a hammer (but obviously, volunteers for that would be no problem for Iran). The dynamite explodes, driving the two masses together. Instant nuclear boom. Not elegant, but it will give effects like Hiroshima.

The prof said the only major difficulty with the design was getting the fissionable material, and handling it without killing yourself while building it. If you can figure out how to do that, the rest is easy.
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 10:04:05 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/4/2006 11:23:51 AM EDT by vito113]
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 11:16:48 AM EDT

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

I read an article by a professor of nuclear physics some time back who wanted to know how long it would take to design a workable nuclear weapon from scratch. Without any further instruction, he told a first-year engineering student to go to the library and see if he could come up with a workable design.

Forty hours later, the student was back with a design that the prof determined was entirely workable, and could be made from ordinary products fairly easily available to anyone (except for the fissionable material.)



I think you're getting a government experiment from the 1960s a little mixed up. A group of three freshly-degreed Ph.D. physicists were given the task of designing a nuclear package using only publicly available information (non-classified) that they sought out on their own. They worked for 18 months, and presented a plan. Upon inspection by the guys who do that sort of thing professionally for the government, the design was pronounced crude--but fully functional. The design was of course classified and is not available for review.

I'm having a hard time finding a reference to that story at the moment, so I can't double check my recollection, but it should be fairly close.

The fundamental idea is simple enough for a high school student to draw up a "plan", especially for a gun barrel bomb. Most such simple designs would simply "fizzle", blowing apart the core before a useful number of nuclear reactions had taken place. The key is to assemble the core rapidly enough that the onset of high rate nuclear fission occurs and ramps up quickly enough to release a useful amount of energy before the density of the (rapidly expanding) core drops below that needed for the high-rate fission reactions. That is a /much/ harder task, and one for which most people who "could design a bomb" wouldn't even know how to begin to approach a solution.

Jim
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