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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Iran Developing Multi-point Detonation System for Nuke

Timothy Birdnow

An article in WND claims Iran has built at least two atomic bombs.

Now, there have been articles about this before, and WND isn't exactly the go to source for accuracy, but I found a couple of interesting tidbits here.

For instance:

"Sources within the Revolutionary Guards reveal that the work on the trigger is taking place covertly under the control of the Guards in the cities of Darkhovin and Isfahan"

End excerpt.

Interesting. The schematics for building a bomb are readily available, and yet the Iranians are having some degree of trouble developing a trigger. Now, a uranium bomb generally uses a gun trigger; an uranium bullet is fired from a tower into the uranium sphere. The force of the impact sets off the chain reaction and BOOM! This is old, tried-and-true technology. What is taking them time to work up?

Perhaps this:

"The IAEA last November indicated that Iran had experimented with firing multiple detonators with a high level of simultaneity. The report also indicated that Iran as early as 2003 began a large-scale experiment to initiate a high-explosive charge in the form of a hemispherical shell. This indicates work on a nuclear bomb."


This fairly screams "plutonium!" Plutonium is much harder to detonate, because it is more unstable than uranium, enough so that the chain reaction dampens out, just as too much air can put out a few pieces of kindling when you are trying to start a campfire. The whole idea behind fission is to get a chain reaction going, to get the neutrons from one atom to strike other atoms and break them apart, and so on and so on. If the reaction is too fast the dominoes will not fall at once but instead the particles will strike each-other, dampening the reaction. Plutonium tends to do this, and the gun trigger doesn't work with it. Instead a precision implosion is generally employed, with "a high level of simultaneity" and a hemispherical shell.

This is odd. There is no reason to go to the trouble of making a plutonium bomb; you get the same bang for your buck with plain old uranium. but uranium is a mother to produce, while if you have a nuclear reactor you can get plutonium (PU239) from the spent fuel rods, and you get the power from the reactor to boot. Also, you need a lot less plutonium; just 8 kgs as opposed to 52 Kgs for uranium. But plutonium is much harder to work with, and it is the most toxic substance known to man. A uranium bomb is easier to handle and easier to detonate; when North Korea tried to test a bomb a couple of years back the detonator was improperly timed, and the weapon just fizzled. The implosion detonation requires exact timing, because otherwise there is a "hole" in the imploding force and some of the mass - and the all important neutrons - can squeeze out. You also need to add radioactive polonium and beryllium as a catalyst.

North Korea chose plutonium because they could get the spent fuel easier, and because it took so much less. The eyes of the world were watching, and they did it right under the noses of the Clinton Administration. But Iran can get nuclear material from the Russians, and their project has not exactly been secret.

The critical mass for an uranium bomb is 141 pounds, while only 13.6 pounds of plutonium is needed to make it go boom (granted, you have more weight added for the polonium and Berrylium, as well as the extra explosives for the implosion, as well as the mass of a neutron reflector).

But all those extras are daunting; Fat Man, the U.S. plutonium bomb, weighed over ten thousand pounds! Granted, Little Boy, the uranium bomb that took out Hiroshima, hardly weighed any less at 9,700 lbs.

But there is another way to use implosion in a uranium fissile device; a multi-point initiation system for a nuclear warhead. This GREATLY reduces the weight involved. Iran has been developing this detonation system.

And Iran has launched a satellite using their own equipment. If you can put a satellite in orbit you can build an ICBM.

Which brings us to another point; one or two ICBM's will be no use against a massive nuclear arsenal possessed by, say, the United States. But there is a great equalizer; detonate such a weapon above the atmosphere over the enemy's country and the resultant Electromagnetic Pulse will knock out all of their electronics. America is nothing but electronics, and an EMP attack would bring the entire country down.

The U.S. government has estimated an 80% casualty rate if the nation should be hit with an EMP. At first it wouldn't be too bad; a power outage and no cars running (since cars all use computers) but that would change quickly as the whole country will have stopped. No food will move, no fields will be plowed, no water will be pumped, no medical services, no fire departments, no nothing. America would be reduced to below 19th century technology, because nobody would even have such devices as telegraphs or oil lamps. There wouldn't even be enough horses to facilitate travel and messages. America would be reduced to the status of the frontier, but with twenty first century population pressures. Starvation and disease would run rampant, and civil war on ta mostrous scale would result.

Don't expect a whole lot of help from overseas, either; those countries will all have serious problems.

But, I hear some say, you need a fusion bomb to generate the power needed to take out the electric grid!

Fission bombs work quite well at putting out EMP - they are, in fact, even more effective.

But a fission bomb, while more effective at producing an EMP, generally has such a lower energy output than a thermonuclear device that it is generally dismissed as an EMP weapon. There are ways to radically increase the electromagnetic output of a fission bomb. Here are a few.

So saving weight has a great benefit if you are going to build an EMP weapon. Even if you want a standard nuke it makes sense to reduce weight; you don't need as big a missile, or you can put multiple warheads on one. It was the MIRV that ended civil defense during the 1970's; it became impossible to catch all of the weapons since more than one would be on every missile. Missile defense systems were rendered useless, and so nobody saw any point in trying to maintain any other civil defense programs.

Iran possessing such a weapon is frightening, and they would be happy to use it if they saw an advantage. Oh, and it would work just fine on Israel.

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