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Nuclear Fuel How-To 335

Posted by Zonk
from the starting-your-own-regime dept.
ATMosby writes "The BBC has an article that pretty much sums up everything you might need to know if you wanted to refine nuclear fuel and build some atomic weapons." From the article: "Uranium is the basic raw material of both civilian and military nuclear programmes. It is extracted from either open-cast pits or by underground mining. Although uranium occurs naturally all over the world, only a small fraction is found in concentrated ores. When certain atoms of uranium are split in a chain reaction, energy is released. This process is called nuclear fission."
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Nuclear Fuel How-To

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  • by sjbe (173966) on Friday May 27, 2005 @12:49PM (#12657096)
    When certain atoms of uranium are split in a chain reaction, energy is released. This process is called nuclear fission.

    Thanks for clearing that up for us...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's not as simple as you think it is.

      Only U-233 or U-235 is useful for fission reactions. While U-238 can fission, it requires at least 5 MeV of kinetic energy from an incident neutron, while U-233 and U-235 require no energy. This makes U-238 fairly useless for fission except in the case where plutonium is made (U-238 + n -> (U-239)* -> Np-239 -> Pu-239). Pu-239 requires no energy to fission (and this is general of all heavy nuclides with odd atomic masses).

      U-235 is 0.65% naturally occuring,
    • by crovira (10242) on Friday May 27, 2005 @01:23PM (#12657566) Homepage
      "How To Be A Gynacologist." (BIG geek appeal.)

      But the next program in the series is a bit of a let down. Its on "How to reconcile the Russians and the Chinese"
      • Here's a preview:

        "Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvellous cure for something, and then, when the medical profession really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there'll never be any diseases ever again."

        Oops, sorry, sorry, wrong episode. That's the preview of "How to play the flute, how to split an atom, how to construct a box girder bridge, how to irrigate the Sahara Desert and make vast new areas of land cu

    • When I read the little Slashdot snip, I thought of Roland!
    • Hey wait! They forgot to mention splitting beer atoms is a cheap source of energy in Australia.
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0racle (667029) on Friday May 27, 2005 @12:49PM (#12657099)
    Big deal, my high school physics textbook had all this information as well.

    I wonder how many people are going to think this is some sort of threat to 'national security.'
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) * <.akaimbatman. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday May 27, 2005 @01:11PM (#12657399) Homepage Journal
      Big deal, my high school physics textbook had all this information as well.

      Actually, your high school physics book probably has *more* information. This "in-depth article" is nothing more than a few graphs and a description.

      That being said, nuclear fission technology is stupidly simple in it theoretical foundations. Once one is able to build an atomic pile (demonstrating sufficient purity of U235), it's only a short period of time until a gun-type A-Bomb can be made. All you need is two sub-critical masses of U235 that add up to a critical mass. Mount one mass in a stationary (and strong!) holder. Take the other piece and mount in some sort of gun. The more force the gun can impart on the second piece, the better. Fire the first piece at the second, and viola! You're dead!

      Ermm... I mean... you can see a pretty light show from the U235 compressing into a super-critical bundle.

      Nuclear reactors and Implosion bombs are a bit more difficult, but not beyond any country with sufficient industrial capability. This article [progressive.org] from the magazine "The Progressive" tells you how to build a hydrogen bomb. Good luck on that, though. Implosion bombs aren't too bad with computer modelling, but H-Bombs are REALLY, REALLY tricky.

      Of course, if a Slashdotter with no formal training in nuclear science can desribe how bombs are built, is there any question as to why nuclear materials are carefully controlled?
      • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rei (128717) on Friday May 27, 2005 @01:23PM (#12657562) Homepage
        The tough thing about implosion bombs is getting a uniform shockwave. This requires high purity explosives that behave exactly the way you want, every time, high-predictability capacitors, and very time-precise triggering mechanisms. Parts that can be used in the triggering mechanisms (such as krytrons) are harder to come by.

        Such capacitors and explosives are within the reach of a state like Iran (and Iraq claimed to have produced them before the first Gulf War), Krytrons, however, use beta from Ni-63 to help keep the gas in them ionized (to allow for a faster arc discharge), so they take more effort.
        • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday May 27, 2005 @02:00PM (#12657980) Homepage Journal
          Iraq got nuclear training from Pakistan's AQ Khan during the 1980s, while the US beefed up Hussein's rudimentary WMD program [photius.com]. And Pakistan got its krytrons from the US at that time, too [islam-online.net].
          • by JJ (29711)
            the NY Times article you cite doesn't say the US beefed up his chemical weapons programme. It says it ignored evidence of it while helping Iraq with certain military issues (like giving them satelitte photos of recent Iranian troop movements.)

            Citing the NYTimes is as likely to be unbiased as CBS News or Newsweek.
            • Re:So? (Score:3, Informative)

              by Doc Ruby (173196)
              That article merely scratches the surface, showing the hearty Rumsfeld/Saddam handshake video. The truth is that the US was beefing up Iraq [globalsecurity.org], while officially denying it - which backfired when they invaded Kuwait. And beefing up Iran, while officially denying it, after they beat the US out of their country with our hostages. Some say it was a good covert policy, to set two belligerent threats to the US against each other. But it backfired then and now, with both built-up countries threatening our security, m
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rei (128717) on Friday May 27, 2005 @01:16PM (#12657467) Homepage
      I'm wondering why slashdot seems so impressed by this; this is all common knowlege (and very incomplete for the public domain). I mean, using language "This is then purified in a chemical process and reconstituted in a solid form known as "yellow cake" "? "A chemical process"? Can they get more vague? Why not just state some of the processes, like dissolution of the ore in strong acids (phosphoric, sulphuric, or nitric)? Heck, I once ran into a paper that discussed proper methods for manufacture of appropriate corrosion-resistant seals for gas centrifuges. :P

      Here we go again: "converted into a gas, uranium hexafluoride". Why not just say how hex is produced - it is dissolved in nitric acid to produce uranyl nitrate, reacted with ammonia to produce ammonium diuranate, reduced with hydrogen to produce UO2, then converted with HF to UF4 (which is a nice storage method, because it can be readily converted to either hex, ceramics, or metal). You react the UF4 with fluorine to produce UF6.

      Just stating the chemical pathway isn't giving away any sort of secrets; this is all public domain. The technical challenges are in setting up a large scale refining process, and not getting caught doing it, because large quantities of many involved chemicals (for example hydrofluoric acid) are monitored.

      They only mention two enrichment methods (gas diffision and gas centrifuge), and ignore some of the newer methods in development (I'm rather fond of the LIS (Laser Isotope Separation) methods; they take advantage of the fact that the different isotopes of uranium ionize differently from different wavelengths of light. AVLIS works on uranium gas ionization, while MLIS works by encouraging the selective disassociation of U235 hex. There's a couple other methods in development as well.

      Even what they mention of gas diffusion and gas centrifuges is vague. For example, the whole world was reading two years ago about the controversy over the "aluminum tubes" - the centrifuge rotors are flow-formed from tubes and welded to a central shaft, which spins on a fine bearing at the base and is magneticly suspended at the top. Because of the high forces on the rotors, you need high grade alloys. Iraq never had used aluminum - its imported designs called for maraging steel, and the aluminum was ill-suited for welding as well. This was all over the news - where were the editors then?

      I could easily keep on going, but I think the point is made - why are the editors impressed by this article? It's nothing - they've clearly never bothered googling for uranium enrichment before.
    • I think the BBC will be shut down or rather retract there story and have it said that.
      Nuclear fusion reactore running on gum drops can now have there fuel recycled to make weapons using marshmallows and humus. Only one in 7 gum drops out of a 1000 are light enought to get above the marshmallow and humus mixture for actual usage.
  • Why does this read like an exceprt of that "terrorists handbook" that was getting passed around on unmarked 3.5" floppies in 1994. (With Castle Wolf, ironically!)

    And as usual, most of the best places to get the materials you need are college campuses.
  • by Maradine (194191) * on Friday May 27, 2005 @12:50PM (#12657114) Homepage
    . . . let's be alarmist about it, because the info didn't [google.com] exist [wikipedia.org] anywhere [berkeley.edu] else. [nuclearweaponarchive.org]
  • Girlfriend (Score:4, Funny)

    by RancidMilk (872628) on Friday May 27, 2005 @12:50PM (#12657118)
    Sounds like the same thing with my girlfriend. There is a tight bond, and when she is ripped off of me, lots of energy is released.
  • Only in America... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Friday May 27, 2005 @12:50PM (#12657119) Homepage Journal
    Only in our beloved country could someone think that this set of pages "sums up everything you might need to know if you wanted to refine nuclear fuel and build some atomic weapons." The information presented is what anyone with a high-school level knowledge of science should know. It's what anyone old enough to vote should know. When Bush claimed that Saddam was buying yellowcake from Nigeria -- even if it had been true -- it should have been obvious that without a lot of additional sophisticated equipment, it was about as useless as talcum powder.

    On the other hand, I did get a nice refresher on the process. You do forget a few things in 20 years. And I can use the site as a resource for my kids, since they'll be too busy being taught "Intelligent Design" to be bothered with anything as mundane as chemistry and physics.
    • AMEN!

      These pages are pretty useless and surely doesn't deserve the title for this /. post being a HOW-TO.

      • And while I am at it. The FA is clear about the kind of facilities needed to achieved some destructive "useful" result. The enrichement facility alone is a challenge. This is the reason the main treat is countries already having such facilities for civilian purpose and trying to recable them to produce military-grade uranium. To do that, they must avoid inspections from the UN organization in Vienna. So, about Saddam, it was not impossible he could produce military-grade uranium, since he was having some pi
    • Perhaps you didn't notice the article was on BBC?

      Not to mention the fact that there's dumb people everywhere you go. When you're done being bitter about being forced to live in America, you should do a reality check.
  • Can someone post the article text? For some reason, BBC News is blocked at work.
  • First you have to enrich the fuel.
    Then you have to irradiate the fuel.
    Then you have to separate the uranium from the plutonium.
    Then you have to build the device (tricky is an understatement).

    If you just use uranium you still have to mine, extract, and enrich the fuel. Then you have to build the trigger and test.

    None of this is cheap nor safe to do.
    • Re:Not That Easy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Colin Smith (2679)
      They could pretty much dispense with steps 2 and onwards. They'd probably just pack the nuclear fuel round some conventional explosives, oil and ammonium nitrate mix and contaminate as large an area as possible. The centre of New York, Washinton, London is some very expensive real estate.

      • They could dispense with all of the steps and follow your advice with a radioisotope source stolen from a commercial vendor.

        No nuclear fuel needed.

        The centre of New York, Washinton, London is some very expensive real estate.

        Which means that it will be cleaned up quickly because it is so valuable.
      • Uranium is nasty stuff and you can make a dirty bomb out of it but by the time you have a system in place to get highly concentrated uranium in large quantizes you are already close to building a working bomb. Let's say you where to build a 50lb uranium bomb well you need to have varied good containment and transportation facilities or most of your workforce is going to be dead before you complete the project. You also need to shield the bomb's electronics or it's got a reasonable chance to blow up before
      • They could pretty much dispense with steps 2 and onwards. They'd probably just pack the nuclear fuel round some conventional explosives, oil and ammonium nitrate mix and contaminate as large an area as possible.

        This is what scares the crap out of so many people.

        You would actually need some fairly high-level radioactive materials to make a good dirty bomb: uranium ore will make a geiger counter nervous, but nothing much happens until you start concentrating the stuff.

        You don't need to bother maki

  • Cheney has just announced plans to liberate the BBC from the terrorists overords , Tinky-winkie(of telytubies fame) was caught on cammera pleeding for American assistance to save him from the cruel opresive burocracy just moments before taking a barrage of rolland rats
  • Experts believe a crude plutonium bomb could be designed and assembled by terrorists possessing no greater level of skill than needed by the AUM cult to attack the Tokyo underground with nerve gas in 1995.

    And don't forget to include this article...

  • by Chairboy (88841) on Friday May 27, 2005 @12:53PM (#12657168) Homepage
    The article basically covers the same stuff that's been in encyclopedias for decades. I'm sure we'll get a bunch of posters nervously posting about how irresponsible it is to release this info, but it's hardly ground breaking.

    The better informed the public is to how these things work, the better off we'll be in participating in our national policies. Saying that the information should be restricted is akin to arguing in favor of 'security through obscurity'. I argue that if you criticize both the BBC article and Microsoft for their security policies, then you're exhibiting traits of hypocrisy.

    In the end, the part of the equation that's required is the presence of uranium. It's hard to get. It's even harder to mine/refine, especially in secret.
    • It's even harder to mine/refine, especially in secret.

      Bingo. Technologists, expecially computer geeks, seem to have a tendency (perhaps justifiably) to believe that mere knowledge of HOW to do something means that actually doing it is trivial. In this case, however, this knowledge is not a severe threat because its implementation remeans one of the most difficult, dangerous, and expensive processes known to man.

  • BBC DIY U235
  • Not Even Close (Score:5, Informative)

    by rgmoore (133276) * <glandauer@charter.net> on Friday May 27, 2005 @12:54PM (#12657184) Homepage

    Sorry, but that site isn't even close to "everything you might need to know" about building a Bomb. That's more like the 5 minute capsule summary. If you really want to know everything about building a Bomb but don't want to get a security clearance, the best place to look is Carey Sublette's Nuclear Weapon Archive [nuclearweaponarchive.org]. It's amazing just how much non-classified information it contains.

  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Friday May 27, 2005 @12:55PM (#12657192)
    (Oblig Simpsons Quote)

    "Furious George! What have they done to you? Smithers, this monkey is going to need most of your skin."
  • If you could really get everything you need to know about making a nuclear bomb from one bbc article, everybody would have them. Maybe everything you need to know about how a bomb works, if you don't intend to actually design one, in one article. Heck, you couldn't even really learn how to design a _rifle_ from an article that size.
  • From the article:
    COUNTRIES WITH CENTRIFUGE PLANTS: Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Iran, Netherlands, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, UK

    What does the USA use instead of centrifuge plants then?

    • by jfmerryman (670236)
      I believe we use gaseous diffusion [nrc.gov].
    • by Chagatai (524580)
      The United States of America has no need for such rudimentary devices as centrifuge plants. Our pure, Grade A, one-of-a-kind type of Freedom makes the atoms settle in different layers so we can build our peacekeeping devices to stop terrorists and provide more freedom. It's like a breeder reactor, but here in the US of A, it's a Freedom Reactor, sir!

  • by DaedalusLogic (449896) on Friday May 27, 2005 @12:57PM (#12657230)
    From: "Nuclear Weapons for Dummies"

    Chapters you'll get in the full book:

    "Oppenheimer Shcmoppenheimer"
    "Building Your First Triggering Device"
    "Oops, Look at All the Fallout"

    $14.95 US / $19.95 CAN
  • Errors I noticed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) * <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Friday May 27, 2005 @12:58PM (#12657243) Homepage Journal
    -Enrichment levels for uranium meant for power plants is about 20% U-235, not 3%.
    -The gun and implosion types of bombs aren't tied to the fissile type. You could use either type with either plutonium or uranium.
    -They didn't mention confinement of the reaction on the gun type of bomb. If you don't try to hold it together with a heavy bomb casing, the bomb will blow itself apart as soon as fission begins, resulting in a really low yield.

    If you were to try to build a bomb from these instructions, it wouldn't work.
    • > If you were to try to build a bomb from these instructions, it wouldn't work.

      So is this an attempt by some unnamed organization to poision the information network?

      This would make any information out there untrusted and require verification and tests before being trusted adding to the complexity of the process. Pretty good low cost method for reducing the value of information, (until critiques of its reliability get out anyways).
    • Great. You just filled in the missing piece for the terrorists.

      *Gets in bomb shelter*
    • Re:Errors I noticed (Score:3, Informative)

      by abb3w (696381)
      -Enrichment levels for uranium meant for power plants is about 20% U-235, not 3%.

      No, that's about right. Standard commercial PWR/BWR reactors use 3-5% enrichment; CANDU heavy water reactors can use lower enrichment. Research (and military?) reactors tend to use higher enrichments-- 20-90%. However, the NRC has been strongly encouraging universities to recalculate the load geometries to rely on fuel at the lower end of that range to limit the amount of highly enriched uranium in non-military facilities. T

    • Plutonium produces too many spontaneous neutrons to be used in a gun device. There is a high probability of a fizzle before assembly is complete.

      With a proper initiator, the efficiency of a gun device can be improved. It only takes about 500 ns for the chain reaction to run its course. That's too short a time for the bomb casing to be an issue. A heavy tamper will slow the disassembly of the core.

  • Yesterday there was a small congressional hearing looking into nuclear weapons and their ability to be used by terrorists. During the hearing someone testified that you see declassified documents on the internet, but never anything comprehensive.

    The congressmen, some, were asking their questions like they wanted the information to be out there and talked a lot of urban myths and so forth. They were almost let down when they found out the truth - it hasn't happened yet, "they" don't have a bomb.

    Anyways, th
  • Newsflash! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Spy der Mann (805235)
    AMAZING DISCOVERY!
    Nuclear energy works by splitting atoms!
    (continued on page 10)
    • If they had a story on how to make a working fussion reactor then i might be a little intrested
      • > If they had a story on how to make a working fussion reactor then i might be a little intrested

        "Good news, everyone!"
        - Professor Hubert Farnsworth

        Farnsworth Fusor [rexresearch.com]. More on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

        Buildable and safely operable by any grad student. A non-fusing version (using only hydrogen) that serves as a proof-of-concept could be built and safely demonstrated by a group of bright, mechanically-inclined, and well-equipped high school student.

        If, by "working", you mean "produces more energy than it tak

  • by rlp (11898) on Friday May 27, 2005 @01:02PM (#12657287)
    The Beeb could have at least provided a translation of the article in Farsi. :~)
  • by Wapiti-eater (759089) on Friday May 27, 2005 @01:04PM (#12657312)
    of the decline of /. into a cespool of sensationalist pablum. This reads like it was published by the National Enquirer - not a "news for nerds" site. (maybe a 'news for n00bs' site)

    Not news, not newsworthy, not even mildly interesting to anyone who was awake in 6th grade science class.

    What's next? A front page story on the dangers and publich health threat of dihydrogen oxide?
    • I think the BBC story is aimed at school children to give them a little information for school projects .
      So either is slashdot is moving into new territorys or i would say its a little error
  • As many others have noted, the information in the BBC article is readily available from numerous sources. For a good understanding of the concepts and dangers, I recommend The Curve of Binding Energy by John McPhee.
  • by abb3w (696381) on Friday May 27, 2005 @01:08PM (#12657367) Journal
    The article says nothing about the composition or manufacture of the membranes used in gaseous diffusion, how to handle the corrosive nature of U-hexaflouride, and mentions NOTHING about Laser isotope separation (let alone useful tidbits like the actual activation frequencies for U235 and U238 hex). The folk running the Manhattan project had better info than this even before they started. Buy a good introductory textbook [amazon.com] and you'll get way better instructions with far more technical detail.

    I guess the slashdot editor thought it was a slow news day or something....

  • C'mon guys, this information is both old and public, and it's about as useful for making bombs as Monty Python's infamous guide to flute playing (blow in one end and run your fingers up and down the holes).

    Let's have more stories about nude pictures on Yahoo!
  • everything? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Vilim (615798) <ryan@jabbe[ ]ck.ca ['rwo' in gap]> on Friday May 27, 2005 @01:10PM (#12657386) Homepage
    "The BBC has an article that pretty much sums up everything you might need to know if you wanted to refine nuclear fuel and build some atomic weapons."

    This is true, in the same way

    "Everything you need to know how to build a car is that pistons get pushed down by gas exploding which turns the crankshaft which turns the wheels"

    is everything you need to know to build a car. Or

    "Think of space as a sheet with masses as balls"

    Is everything you need to know about general relativity

    A general overview of anything is usually quite simple however in practise building a nuclear bomb is pretty difficult.
  • Oh come on... (Score:2, Interesting)

    I mean, the article is interesting enough, and relevant given the recent nuclear activities of Iran and North Korea, but this information is widely available and is far from technical. The principal thing that keeps everyone from possessing weapons-grade fissile material is the processing, a step "informatively" denoted with a pair of arrows.

    If you want plutonium, you need to have a working fission reactor, which ostensibly makes you subject to regular inspection (and is hard to hide). If you want Highl

  • Newcular World Order (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday May 27, 2005 @01:11PM (#12657397) Homepage Journal
    They left out the address of AQ Khan [globalsecurity.org], who runs a mailorder nukes biz in Pakistan [saag.org]. Just put an account# from Libya, Iran or North Korea [washingtonpost.com], or maybe Saudi Arabia [nti.org] on your order, and you can get all the tutorial you need. You'll still have to get the fuel from somewhere, but there's plenty of Russian, Kazakh [karabakh-terror.com] or even good ol' Italian [nti.org] mafia dealers. Try the Carlyle Group [ifrance.com] - they might be your one-stop-shop, including the negotiations that signal your initiation into the nuclear club.
    • They left out the address of AQ Khan, who runs a mailorder nukes biz in Pakistan.

      Dude, I sent in my 4 boxtops and 8.95, and it's been 6-8 weeks already, so where's my freakin' bomb? Plus, those X-ray glasses Khan sent me totally do not help me see through women's clothing. Khan, if you're out there, I want my money back, you crook!

      Seriously, this really drives home how the whole "Weapons of Mass Destruction" thing was just a bunch of bullshit. If the Bush Administration had truly wanted to do something

      • Robert McNamara, former US Secretary of Defense, warned this week [un.org] that "quite credible individuals had said that they had never been more fearful of a nuclear detonation than now". Bush's White House exposed Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent in Africa protecting us from WMD development, as revenge on her husband, the former ambassador who debunked Bush's fake "Niger uranium for Iraq" memo that lied us into war in his State of the Union speech. And John Bolton, former ambassador (under Reagan / Bush Sr)
  • News Flash: BBC publishes gradeschool physics document...

    Nothing news here...
  • There is nothing in this BBC story that is not in most collage text books that cover this aspect of chemistry and physics.
  • Detailed reads... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jpellino (202698) on Friday May 27, 2005 @01:18PM (#12657501)
    "The Curve of Binding Energy" with Ted Taylor walking John McPhee through how much damage you could do for surprisingly little effort. Including a tour around southern Manhattan and speculation on using a poorly made nuke to topple a World Trade tower into the river...

    That book inspired...

    "Mushroom" by John Aristotle Philips about his paper at Princeton describing how to build a bomb. A student of Freeman Dyson, he got far more info than he ever dreamed he could get. The very impressive paper saved some less than stellar grades, and generated quite a buzz, more than a few cloaky phone calls and IIRC the paper got classified by the gummint.
  • I clicked through some of the links, and while it's an interesting article there is nothing new and what's more interesting to me is the article is filed under in depth/world/2003/ on the bbc site. The most recent update I found to it was oct. 2004. As interesting as this is, I don't know how it's very relevant or topical for today's news, there really isn't anything NEW there that hasn't already been fully covered on the bbc site since at least 2003 and a myriad of other sources for much longer.
  • by johnjaydk (584895) on Friday May 27, 2005 @01:24PM (#12657570)
    Try the Nuke faq instead http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Nwfaq/Nfaq0.html [nuclearweaponarchive.org] that should give a clue as to how these things are build.

    Now we need to enrich the stuff first. These guys http://www.urenco.com/ [urenco.com] do it for a living and have a few nifty articles on centrifuges.

    We also need a suitable boiler to make the good stuff(tm). My personal favorite is the Canadian (take that you pacifists) Candu design http://www.nuclearfaq.ca/ [nuclearfaq.ca].

    This should get you in the WMD business in no time. Now don't try this at home unless you've got your own TV-show...

  • There is a whole range of enrichment methods; see here [globalsecurity.org] for an overview. Note the article on EMIS and use by the Iraqis. Furthermore, the chemical exchange processes sound like something competent chemical engineers could implement. And I suspect that with improvements in materials, computers, and chemical engineering, such processes become cheaper and easier to implement.

    I think we'll just have to face the fact that nuclear weapons will become accessible to many more nations over the coming decades.
  • Tom Clancy gave away more information than this in his book, "The Sum of All Fears", published in 1991. He at least mentioned how the Berylium shell involves a topologically complex construction of helically nested tubes, and a few other significant details. He also went into the health hazards of being a Pu 239 machinist, and several other salient points, all public knowledge and unclassified.
    When Union Carbide sponsored "The 20th Century", most of the information in the BBC article was broadcast in th
  • in the BBC piece, but this article [popsci.com] provides more info on the practicalities of acquiring the materials and actually building the device.
  • Philo: Welcome to Secrets of the Universe. Today, we are going to learn to make weapons-grade plutonium from common household items.
  • Nice of BBC to pick such an old, dangerous reactor design [bbc.co.uk]. They could at least have mentioned pebble bed [wikipedia.org] or other current designs.

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