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suitcase nukes and the

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posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 10:15 PM
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Originally posted by Tom Bedlam
However, a lot of initiators use tritium so they run out over time as well, they just don't do it quite so fast and they're invariably external initiators. So they're a lot easier to maintain. None the less, a couple of years and they won't work either.

As for the torpedoes, I'm not that informed on Russian weapon design. But most small nukes that need to have a fairly good yield are boosted. That means that such weapons will have to be maintained about once a year. If the torpedoes have gone without maintenance that long they probably wouldn't detonate.


Thanks for the information, Tom!

You inspired me to do a little further reading on Tritium. I found this article:

www.fas.org...

to be both informative, and disturbing.

The half-life of tritium appears to be about 12 years, so, indeed, any "boosted" nuclear device would require maintenence at least once every decade.

Thing with tritium though, is that it has a number of non-weapons related uses. Per the above mentioned article, those uses include such mundane, and ubiquitous, items as non-powered "helicopter landing lights, airport runway lights and emergency "EXIT" signs".

Such wide-spread applications would seem to me to make tritium a rather easy item to acquire, even it one wished to do so legitimately.




posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 12:04 AM
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Originally posted by Tom Bedlam
Polonium 210 initiators are in general only used by people that can't build surge tubes or zippers due to the life span issues and lack of weapon yield control.

Most Po210 initiators are Urchin type internal initiators, too, so you can't just replace the unit from the outside, you have to dismantle the physics package to replace them.

Po210 is also really tough to get, because you have to bake it up in a reactor out of bismuth. You can't just make some in a chemistry lab. In order for someone to create Po210, they'd have to have a good sized research reactor.

Thus most Soviet weapons don't use Po210 initiators.

However, a lot of initiators use tritium so they run out over time as well, they just don't do it quite so fast and they're invariably external initiators. So they're a lot easier to maintain. None the less, a couple of years and they won't work either.

As for the torpedoes, I'm not that informed on Russian weapon design. But most small nukes that need to have a fairly good yield are boosted. That means that such weapons will have to be maintained about once a year. If the torpedoes have gone without maintenance that long they probably wouldn't detonate.



Wow Tom, you seem to have a great working knowledge on the subject. Just curious as to what field you are in? Ex or active military, physicist, scientist? Never seems to amaze me at the incredibly high level of knowledge that the visitors to ATS have from top to bottom. Very informative stuff.



posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 09:03 AM
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“Disinformation: 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror" by Richard Miniter addresses some of these very questions. The WSG ran an excerpt from his book a few years ago that touched on the “fact vs. myth” side of the “suitcase nuke” and much of the content of this thread. It’s really a fairly interesting view from various points about this topic.

WSG article here.



mg



posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 11:09 AM
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Originally posted by Bhadhidar


The half-life of tritium appears to be about 12 years, so, indeed, any "boosted" nuclear device would require maintenence at least once every decade.


Nope, you generally have to do it about once a year. It depends on the weapon, if they have a bigger "neutron surplus" in their energy budget you don't have to maintain them quite as frequently as the ones that are more constrained.

Your post tells me you probably looked up tritium, saw it had a half-life of 12 years, and then jumped to the conclusion that meant you would have a 12 year maintenance cycle. Let's think about that one.

First, what does half-life actually mean? That is the time span over which, statistically, one half of the original material has undergone radioactive decay. Now, if my weapon was calibrated to need, say, 0.5 moles of tritium, then I'll only have 0.25 at the end of 12 years. That isn't very optimal.

Next, what happens to tritium when it decays? It emits an electron (a beta particle) and becomes 3He.

What is the purpose of tritium in a weapon? Why boost? Well, a supercritical pit is a neutron amplifier. That is its purpose in life, to take input neutrons and amplify them through a fission cascade. You've only got a certain number of multiplications before your supercritical assembly expands into a glowing cloud of gas that's no longer dense enough to do the trick. So, what you want is to put as many neutrons as possible into the cascade while the pit is still assembled. The more neutron cascades you can start, the bigger and more efficient the bang.

Tritium injection is used as a neutron multiplier. The heavy energy flux in the pit during the first few microseconds of the explosion actually cause T-T fusion in the tritium. This is a net energy loss, since it takes a lot of energy to get the tritium to fuse. The boost gas does not, therefore, contribute to the force of the detonation, at least not directly.

However, what DOES happen is that the fusing tritium spits out extra neutrons when they really count, right at the beginning of the reaction. These extra neutron cascades really contribute to the reaction. You can double the efficiency of a fission weapon with the extra neutrons. Most recent weapons are designed to depend on the neutron amplification and will fizzle without the boost gas.

So, that said, having less boost gas than you planned for in design is bad, as your yield is directly proportional to the boost, and may in fact fizzle without it if you designed with a certain level of boost in mind. So just the decay of the tritium is critically bad.

But wait, there's more. helium-3 is a neutron sponge. It absorbs neutrons like there's no tomorrow. It is the anti-boost gas. Helium 3 is what you absolutely do not want. Having absorbed the neutron it will turn back INTO tritium and hydrogen, but it takes a comparative lot of time to do so, and by then the weapon has completed the supercritical stage of the detonation.

So helium-3 is a very BAD thing, in that it absorbs both energy and neutrons just when you need them.

Therefore, your boost gas (or initiator tube contents) is steadily decaying from tritium into helium 3. You're not only getting LESS boost gas, but it's turning into a poison.


Thus the half-life of tritium from a web site has 0.diddley to do with how often the weapon has to be serviced due to boost gas decay. It's certainly not a number you can just pull out and say, well, the half-life is 12 years, therefore that is co-equal to the maintenance required by that decay.

edit:

P.S. The loss of tritium combined with it becoming a reaction poison requires, again, a maintenance of about once a year. By the end of two years, you are in the red zone on most weapons and at five it ain't going off.

[edit on 21-1-2007 by Tom Bedlam]



posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 11:19 AM
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Originally posted by missed_gear
“Disinformation: 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror" by Richard Miniter addresses some of these very questions. The WSG ran an excerpt from his book a few years ago that touched on the “fact vs. myth” side of the “suitcase nuke” and much of the content of this thread. It’s really a fairly interesting view from various points about this topic.

WSG article here.



mg


He's sort of right and sort of wrong, but I agree with him in the general idea. There aren't any left as far as I know, and they'd take serious maintenance to still be working.



posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 11:28 AM
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Originally posted by Bhadhidar

Thing with tritium though, is that it has a number of non-weapons related uses. Per the above mentioned article, those uses include such mundane, and ubiquitous, items as non-powered "helicopter landing lights, airport runway lights and emergency "EXIT" signs".

Such wide-spread applications would seem to me to make tritium a rather easy item to acquire, even it one wished to do so legitimately.


Oh, forgot this part. You left out "gun sights", which it does a dandy job at.

But you end up with a couple of issues. One is that the tritium in such devices is very very low in quantity. You could buy all the exit signs and arm bangles you'd want and couldn't get enough to do the job. Tritium costs about $100K US per gram to purchase, and long before you'd get your hands on that much you'd be answering pointed questions. And it takes in the neighborhood of 3 grams for boost gas in a small weapon. That's not precise but use it as a round figure.

Next, a lot of it was produced long ago. In a landing light, you're after the beta particles, not the neutrons. So it doesn't much matter if it's chock full of helium 3. 3He won't stop the beta particles, and it does sop up the neutrons, which you really DON'T want in a civilian device, so it's GOOD if it's full of 3He.

In order to filter out the helium-3, you have to do some really strenuous things because helium will magically go through nearly anything. You have to use a diffusion filter or a specially made molecular sieve. It's tough enough that even Savannah River has fits with it and this is one reason that we want to dispose of it as a requirement.

We also don't produce it anymore, like Po210 you have to use a reactor that's set up for this. Only you bombard Lithium-6 instead of bismuth.

Canada produces some, we have been buying it under the table but that's not good to count on.



posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 11:34 AM
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Originally posted by BlackOps719

Wow Tom, you seem to have a great working knowledge on the subject. Just curious as to what field you are in? Ex or active military, physicist, scientist? Never seems to amaze me at the incredibly high level of knowledge that the visitors to ATS have from top to bottom. Very informative stuff.


Ur. It always seems weird and pointless to talk about since everyone on the net claims to be a SEAL and a rocket scientist.

I was NOT in the Navy.



posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 07:59 PM
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Originally posted by Tom Bedlam
Nope, you generally have to do it about once a year. It depends on the weapon, if they have a bigger "neutron surplus" in their energy budget you don't have to maintain them quite as frequently as the ones that are more constrained.

Your post tells me you probably looked up tritium, saw it had a half-life of 12 years, and then jumped to the conclusion that meant you would have a 12 year maintenance cycle. Let's think about that one.

The more neutron cascades you can start, the bigger and more efficient the bang.

Tritium injection is used as a neutron multiplier. The heavy energy flux in the pit during the first few microseconds of the explosion actually cause T-T fusion in the tritium. This is a net energy loss, since it takes a lot of energy to get the tritium to fuse. The boost gas does not, therefore, contribute to the force of the detonation, at least not directly.

However, what DOES happen is that the fusing tritium spits out extra neutrons when they really count, right at the beginning of the reaction. These extra neutron cascades really contribute to the reaction. You can double the efficiency of a fission weapon with the extra neutrons. Most recent weapons are designed to depend on the neutron amplification and will fizzle without the boost gas.

Thus the half-life of tritium from a web site has 0.diddley to do with how often the weapon has to be serviced due to boost gas decay. It's certainly not a number you can just pull out and say, well, the half-life is 12 years, therefore that is co-equal to the maintenance required by that decay.

edit:

P.S. The loss of tritium combined with it becoming a reaction poison requires, again, a maintenance of about once a year. By the end of two years, you are in the red zone on most weapons and at five it ain't going off.

[edit on 21-1-2007 by Tom Bedlam]



You are absolutely correct; I in fact, did read that post and draw, as you've expertly explained, the absolutely Wrong conclusion regarding the required service interval for a sophisticated modern nuclear weapon.

And given this annual maintenence requirement, can we also assume that the existence of nuke-armed orbital weapon platforms is, and shall likely remain, little more than a "hawk-ish" High-Frontier wet-dream? After-all, how would any nation capable of lofting such a beast ever be able to provide the yearly maintenence required to to ensure it worked when needed!

I would find that to be a most welcome thought!

I always believed Edward Teller ("Father of the H-Bomb" and proponent of the, now discredited, space-based, H-bomb pumped X-ray laser component of Presidnt Reagan's SDI) was a crack-pot scam artist.

Yet, there is contained in your reply a passage that I still find troubling.

You state:

"Most recent (emphasis mine) weapons are designed to depend on the neutron amplification and will fizzle without the boost gas"

Here we are assuming that the threat in possible question is of recent design/manufacture and thus of a level of sophistication such that it would require regular maintenence by assumedly trained experts. Thus pampered, such a device could be expected to yield its maximum destructive capability with the greatest efficiency.

Efficiency and sophistication may be of little concern to people fighting what is essentially a guerilla war. Anything that works and is readily available is to be considered acceptable. Lest we forget, lacking ICBM's, or even guided missles sufficient to their ends, such fiends as we may be discussing employed commercial airliners to do their deeds.

New, effecient, and sophisticated is the perview of the "oppressor". The defender will rely on the "Old"; the tried and proven technologies discarded, disregarded, and often forgotten, by the foe.

It has been reported that one of the parties implicated in the Litvinenko affair is a man suspected of trafficking in nuclear materials. What type of nuclear materials has not been stated. Further, as of a report just out today, the police have refused to name their "prime suspect" in the murder, but he seems to have "vanished".



posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 08:29 PM
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You are correct that such weapons would require maintenance.

If you had some in LEO, you could maintain them, as long as you were circumspect and didn't try to maintain many. I'm speaking theoretically. You couldn't do many, it would take time to recover, disassemble, pull maintenence, reassemble and redeploy LEO satellites from the shuttle, for instance.

Hmph. I hit my 3 rewrite limit here. Think creatively...how else might you manage this if you really wanted to?

Oh, and on another thread, Sandia and LA are in a contest to produce a no-maintenance weapon. It's the next new thing. Well, that and there's about 100 new twists they can do. So if you had to do a lot of tough work to keep some spaceborne assets before, soon it won't be an issue.

There are also some really crappily inefficient weapon designs that don't use boost and don't, strictly, need an initiator but you generally use one. They are just butt awful, but they're simple. I don't know but what you couldn't pump a rod bundle with one.



posted on Jan, 22 2007 @ 09:16 AM
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Terrorists would not need to "pump a rod bundle" to achieve their ends.

The key being, for a terrorist organization, utilizing whatever they could scrape together, a simple design; especially if "simplicity" could translate into "most likely to detonate as required", would be all that they would desire.

And if by terribly "Inefficient" we mean to say as well very "dirty", so much the better from the terrorist point of view.

Such "trash" designs" are exactly what a would be terrorist group would consider "treasures", perhaps?



posted on Jan, 22 2007 @ 09:46 AM
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Originally posted by Bhadhidar
Terrorists would not need to "pump a rod bundle" to achieve their ends.


Nope..that was in reference to your X-ray laser comment.



posted on Jan, 22 2007 @ 11:03 PM
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i think terrriorist are cowards. all people who think that killing is the means to thier stupid means. what about peace, those bast--- should. what about what jesus said. nope they do not care, well if that is the answer, and if they were on my plane , i wouldent make no phone calls i would react very harshly with no mercy, and i would torture the lot. let me be the first to take the bullet or knife, im in the red for my soul, i want to make a difference. send me in. use a nuke , change the world. whatever. you asss. ill rock your world, to make it right and will not think twice. pittly little people with no real means , but their own. IM A FREEDOM FIGHTER, you azzzzz, bring it on.



posted on Jan, 22 2007 @ 11:37 PM
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isnt there 120 G.R.U nuke breifcases scatted across seven continents as of the cold war so its not like they had to do much smuggling they are all ready there

unless they want to let of say more than 10 in the u.s

these babies are definitly already in the states and all western countries and have been for sum time



posted on Jan, 23 2007 @ 12:59 AM
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Originally posted by Melbourne_Militia
The watch the latest series of "24" and watch this scenario unfolding.

I beleive that the show "24" is a warning to the pbulic and that it will happen.


Didn't Alex Jones and Paul Watson recently report a guest on Fox news cited 24's scenarios as a reason Terrorism is prevelant?

I'm not highly skeptical about 24 being a foreshadow of real events to come, but if they are- nightterror scenario aside- I wonder how many people will wake up this time?



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