posted on Jan, 9 2007 @ 10:35 PM
That's a very interesting idea zurvan and I appreciate the apparent effort to understand nuclear weapons that it demonstrates, but there are several
factors which make a chain reaction highly unlikely or flat out impossible.
First of all, a neutron bomb is highly unlikely to be used because it would not be sufficient to destroy a hardened target in most cases. They
function by using a fissile core to trigger tritium-deuterium fusion, which allows them to be smaller and have less fallout while still generating
free neutrons, but even with the fusion boost they are relatively small, and get most of their extra neutron power through design rather than fuel,
specifically by omitting the neutron reflective shell which is normally used to increase the efficiency of nuclear weapons. The practical upshot of
this is that they just don't have to pack much punch to do their job- they are primarily anti-personel weapons. They wouldn't move earth the way
you'd need to to bust a bunker (in fact some seem to think, and I think they might be right, that depending on how deep the facility is, even one
strategic nuke may not do it) (incidentally, speaking of strategic weapons, i figured out why the bombing run is being talked about- Israel's
missiles are based on America's Pershing missiles and, at least for the Jericho I, the CEP is 1,000 meters.)
Second, even if a neutron bomb were used, a chain reaction is unlikely because of the distance between the exposion and the fissile material. Very
careful engineering goes into nuclear weapons- surface area is minimized to provide depth, increasing the probability of any one neutron striking a
nucleus on its way through the mass, and reflectors are used to take advantage of ricochet. This is necessary because an atom is mostly empty space-
you can fire a neutron right between the electron shell and the nucleus and not trigger a reaction. Probability equations are available on wikipedia
but I don't pretend to understand the math.
The upshot of this is that because neutrons are being radiated at a distance, relatively few of them will even strike the fissile material beneath,
much in the way that the farther you get away from a sprinkler, the less spray you get on you, even if you are still within the sprinkler's range.
The fissile material will not be arrayed to maximize hit probability- most of it will be randomly distributed as Uranium Hexaflouride gas, more will
be in yellow cake form (both of which will have an enrichment quality well below weapons grade) and relatively little of the material actually inside
the facility is likely to be weapons grade, fully enriched, meaning that even if a neutron were to strike a U-235 nucleus (as opposed to a U-238
nucleus, in which case it would just create a an unstable U-239 atom which would eventually but non-explosively decay into a Plutonium atom) the split
U-235's free neutrons would be relatively unlikely to inturn strike other U-235 nuclei, and a chain reaction would be extremely unlikely to an extent
that most people would simply call it impossible.
I'd be happy to help you research the cost of a war on Iran, but you'll have to specify what kind of war (air strikes and let it all fall apart,
ground invasion, lengthy occupation, etc) and who the participants would be.