Tuesday, August 17, 2004

No Nukes Is Good Nukes Part I

--This is part I of II. This paper is proving a bit more difficult to write than previously expected. Most of the stuff involved with this part is rather dry but has at least provided me with a better understanding of what is involved with nuclear technology.


I went out on an Internet fact-finding mission for nukes in Iraq and this is what I found: Nothing. As far as the world knows we don't have jack, nada, nothing, zilch, goose egg. Reading what I have read assures me that we did the right thing. As far as we knew Saddam had nuclear capabilities. Hell, as far as Saddam knew he had nuclear capabilities. He was sure as hell working on it. We all know that. For those of you who don't, this is what I'll try and explain to you in this posting/research paper.

Today, looking back, we have but two things: we have the evidence that has been found on the ground, and we have the historical data of events that have taken place. If you understand the significance of each piece in both categories you can catch a glimpse at what was really going on in Iraq. The first direction in this paper therefore needs to be what it takes to create a nuclear missile. This is, after all, what this whole thing is about: nuclear capability. The next step will be the physical evidence of Nuclear weapon potential. As there is no "smoking gun" we will need to focus on how close to a smoking gun there was. The third will be what actions were noted to increase the belief that nuclear weapon capabilities had been reached or soon would be. This is perhaps the most important of the three. It shows what actions were taken with what people and who sold what to whom. Finally, since this paper will soon prove to be lengthy a summation will be needed to tie things up. This summation will be slightly forward thinking as I am planning on making the case for chemical weapons and terrorism in later papers. Lets get started then shall we?

In order to create a nuclear missile you need four primary items. You need a projectile that is capable of delivering the payload as accurately as possible. Then you need the raw fuel in which to detonate the bomb. In this case it is usually either uranium or plutonium. The raw fuel is not enough though; you need to refine the fuel in order to make it less stable and therefore create a greater explosion, or to make it even bigger, implosion. The fourth part of this is sometimes not necessary as it deals mostly with the implosion part but is still a significant as this is the type of device believed to be in the country.

Unless you are making yourself a dirty or suitcase bomb to be carried out by some suicide bomber you need a delivery system. Since the payload for such device is radioactive in nature the entire guidance and navigation system needs to be shielded or risk turning into just another type of S.C.U.D. missile. Lead is usually considered a good candidate for shielding. A better form of shielding is actually the solid metal form of Uranium-238 which actually reflects the unstable particles back to their source.

Contrary to popular belief, the most effective detonation altitude is not at ground zero, but a point some distance above the ground. You see, the friction of the ground through absorption, the geography of the land, and various man-made obstacles, such as office buildings and apartment complexes, restrict a ground detonation. (Water and underwater physics provide for completely different physics. In order to provide maximum impact you need to detonate the explosion from about 1,500 to 2,000 feet above the ground. I'm sure some of you may refute the numbers but they're not stated for accuracy, they're there to show that it's more destructive to use an air pressure based detonator than a contact based detonator.

In addition to the altimeter, or air pressure based detonator referred to above, a good missile needs to have an ample guidance system. you can have nuclear power all day long but if you can't get it to the target you've only succeeded in making a bunch of green glass. Two means of doing this are with a simple gyroscope setup or with built in GPS mapping, tracking, and onboard map correction. The latter system is what gives the Tomahawk missile its trademark "hovering" before redirecting itself at the target.

The last factor in the delivery system would be the actual propulsion technology involved. In order to get the payload of this nature to its intended destination you need to worry about actually including yourself in the blast zone. I would depict this as the old battle scene where the crappy general shoots his arrows at the melee battle, hence killing both the enemy and his own men. On a battlefield scale it could be called M.A.D., or Mutually Assured Destruction. This is only a borrowed term from the greater M.A.D. referred to in global thermo-nuclear war ("War Games" movie). In order to propel the bomb far enough away from yourself, it is commonly believed that a multi-staged rocket would be sufficient in this task.

In order to enact a detonation capable enough to be called nuclear one of two elements must be used; either Plutonium-239 or Uranium-235. Other less difficult chemicals to locate can be used in the creation of a dirty bomb. Stated in the article highlighted, the chemical cobalt-60, found in sanitization plants throughout the world (about 160 plants worldwide), is capable of killing a man within a couple weeks after about one minute in unshielded handling time. What makes this a dirty bomb is when you turn it into a breathable agent or a gas.

Plutonium-239 is the element created when Uranium-238 is used in a nuclear reactor for an extended (years) period of time and picks up an extra neutron. It is the by-product of the nuclear fission found in power plants. It is also found naturally but usually only in trace elements. There is, however, one location in Gabon, West Africa that is a known "natural reactor" inside of what is now a uranium mine. The supercritical mass, or the amount needed to create a nuclear detonation is 32.6 Lbs (16kgs) or 22 Lbs (10 kgs) with a U-238 casing. Because of the few methods for creation or mining of this element it is extremely hard to come by.

Uranium-235, by contrast is a naturally occurring chemical found mixed with Uranium-238 at a rate of 0.6%. To create a supercritical mass with U-235 you need to accumulate 110Lbs (50kgs). So, to do a bit of quick math, you need about 18.5 tons (18,333.333...Lbs) of U-238 to get enough U-235 to make a nuke. Considering the naturally occurring nature of Uranium and the ability to freely acquire the chemical it is not too horribly difficult to come across enough of it if a nation or rich organization were to try. The difficulty factor involved in this is that U-235 and U-238 are both the same element and normally impossible to separate with chemical means.

There are two standard means of refining Uranium to the point it can be used to create a nuclear detonation. The first is called gaseous diffusion in which the Uranium is turned into a gas and basically pushed through a strainer since U-235 is lighter/smaller than U-238. The other is the gas centrifuge that utilizes the greater weight of U-238 once again but instead of pumping it through screens, it effectively spins the gas making the heavier gas go to the outside and the lighter gas to the middle and sucked out. Other known methods that may be used are Laser Isotropic Separation (LIS), Chemical solvent and Ion Exchange (both together will produce low-grade enhancements), and Electro-Magnetic Isotope Separation (EMIS) or "Calutron". As a note, all of these methods were used in Iraq prior to Gulf War I. For the sake of my sanity and yours I will not go in depth on the refinement processes.

The last part in the detonation of a nuclear bomb is the capability of creating a nuclear implosion. Although not required specifically for nuclear detonation, it greatly increases the blast area, as well as decreasing the amount of fissile material required. In order to create an implosion you need to create equal pressure on all sides of the supercritical mass precise enough that no material will leak out but only be able to collapse on itself. One of the primary tools used in the testing and calculations for the precision of an implosive detonation is the rail gun. A rail gun is effectively a positive and a negative pole that shoots an electric current between the poles, thus pushing the projectile/bullet further up the pole repeatedly until it is released at the end of the poles. The potential speed of the bullet being released is calculated at up to 23,175 Mph (14,400 Km/h) (The original number I read was 4 km/s. I believe I did the math right.) At this speed certain properties are different with the projectiles being shot and allow the super lab rats to better understand certain principles at a molecular level. I don't understand it completely, but apparently it relates with how certain particles collide with one another in an atom...or something like that.

--The second half will include:

- proof for physical evidence

- proof for attempted aquisitions

- summation or "What it all means"

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