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Nuclear missiles could blow up 'like popcorn'

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posted on Jun, 26 2008 @ 07:17 PM
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Nuclear missiles could blow up 'like popcorn'


www.telegraph.co.uk

A design flaw in Britain's nuclear arsenal means that warheads could set off a chain reaction "like popcorn" if they were accidentally dropped, according to Ministry of Defence documents.
More than 1,700 warheads are affected by the problem which would cause them to explode one after another, an effect known as "popcorning."

A typical Trident nuclear missile contains three to six warheads, and some submarines carry up to 24 missiles, meaning the potential for disaster could be huge.
contribute to the prevention of popcorning and should be a design objective".

(visit the link for the full news article)

Mod Edit: Breaking News Forum Submission Guidelines – Please Review This Link.


[edit on 27/6/2008 by Mirthful Me]




posted on Jun, 26 2008 @ 07:17 PM
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I've never heard of such a thing. Is this just a scare to sell news?

I've always been under the assumption that nukes were designed in a way that dropping one could not cause a detonation. The article leaves me somewhat confused.

Whats the real story here?

www.telegraph.co.uk
(visit the link for the full news article)



posted on Jun, 26 2008 @ 08:31 PM
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reply to post by SystemiK
 


what? our nuclear arsenal is the best in the world
heck we even had a measure to save money on making Keys for all those missiles. by using a Bike key.

its not like anyones going to be flying around england with Nuclear bombs on the wings like the people accross the Pond.

and when did we have 1700+ warheads, i though the nuclear stockpile in the UK was in the few hundreds.



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 02:56 PM
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reply to post by bodrul
 


Actually, the US nuke stockpile in the UK may have recently been relocated:

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Withdrawn from the U.K.



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 03:02 PM
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???

Our nukes are sub-critical mass devices. It requires the triggering of a shaped explosive charge to detonate them. Dropping then won't do anything (unless it activates the charge?
) and blowing them up with another nuke will only serve to blow them to pieces and won't result in another detonation.

EDIT: This page attempted to open a window.

[edit on 27-6-2008 by mirageofdeceit]



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 03:27 PM
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The article doesn't make it clear, but it seems to be referring to the potential for the conventional explosives in the warheads to go off in an uncontrolled fashion, which wouldn't detonate the nuke, just spread the plutonium around.

The article talks about "people a kilometer away receiving a 16x lethal radiation dose"... if the thermonuclear warheads were going off, people a kilometer away would be vaporized instantly, and the radiation exposure they'd experience would be irrelevant


I think the article is either badly written, written by someone who was not sure what they were talking about, or deliberately misleading.



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 04:10 PM
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This does seem to be alarmist... there's no proof that there is actually a fault with the warheads. The key word in the headline is "could".

I'm not quite sure why this manual has been declassified anyway - documents relating to nuclear weapons fall under the 30 year rule (where government papers can only be released 30 years after they've been written), and there are grounds for the government not releasing them at all. So it may be that this manual is at least 30 years old, or it's possible that the whole document wasn't declassified.

Also, as far as I know, the UK has only about 200 nuclear warheads and not 1,700. At the height of the Cold War, the UK's stockpile reached 350 warheads in the 1970s. Not quite sure where the 1,700 figure comes from (unless it includes American warheads for Trident missiles? Presumably they'd be very similar designs anyway, since both British and American warheads fit into the same missile).



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 04:46 PM
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It could be one of those "what if" papers, too. An idea, but not actually based in fact.



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 05:08 PM
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i think the daily telegraph has reported the more alarming aspects of a story from the new scientist, link technology.newscientist.com... 0



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 05:09 PM
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Probably someone supposing about the rather shock-sensitive nature high explosive takes on as it ages. Lots of those bombs are decades old.



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 05:39 PM
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reply to post by Ste2652
 


They're not ours. The United States appears to have removed all of its nuclear weapons from Britain.

www.guardian.co.uk...



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 05:49 PM
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reply to post by vor78
 


No, I mean the US Trident warheads. The US nukes in Britain were mostly cruise missiles, which need different warheads to Trident (Cruise missiles are much smaller, with lower yields). Trident missiles are also submarine-launched, too, so there weren't any in the UK to take away.

The UK doesn't have 1,700 warheads for it's Trident missiles (we have about 200); the only other nation that uses Trident is the United States, and because the Trident ICBM that both the UK and the US use is identical, the warheads must be very similar too. So unless the UK has somehow secretly stockpiled 1,700 Trident warheads (which is EXTREMELY unlikely) then the only other way I can think of for the Telegraph to get this figure is for them to include US Trident warheads too.



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 06:07 PM
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We might have withdrawn them from the uk but germany wants us to remove them as well,appears there is a sick number of nukes used for bombers.

www.guardian.co.uk...
www.metimes.com...



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 06:23 PM
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reply to post by satire111
 


Thanks for that link Satire, it does explain the issue more clearly than the one I posted in the OP. I'm still left wondering though, if the explosive detonator were to be accidentally set off, how big of an explosion are we talking about? A bit of C4?

Does anybody know how powerful the detonators on a nuke are? Or even what type of explosives they are?



posted on Jun, 27 2008 @ 06:26 PM
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Its not clear but I assume they are talking about a low order detonation of just the conventional explosives.

If one was to fire the resulting shockwave would preclude nearby bombs from a high order detonatonation in the configuration needed to implode thier fissile material. The explosives would blow up or vaporize and thier fissile core would also be spread out over a large area.

[edit on 6/27/08 by FredT]



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 10:53 AM
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reply to post by SystemiK
 


this link gives great detail about the conventional explosives incoperated in atom bombs (and i presume wareheads) i found it very intresting and factual
the "like popcorn" threat i am sure is from the conventional explosives as the make up of the detonator material degrades if it degrades then i assume not enough implosion can occur for a full detonation but i get the impression some radioactive material would be made, thus the missile / bomb and sourounding area would become highly radioactive without a great atomic explosion



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 10:55 AM
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reply to post by satire111
 


www.nuc.berkeley.edu... sorry i forgot to add the link in my previous post i love ats but have not posted much i am trying to rectify that



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 11:57 AM
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The British Trident warhead is seemingly similar in design to that of the warhead the US uses on its own Trident submarines - the W76.

FAS indicates a total of 3,030 W76's having been constructed, with 1280 warheads being retained in active service under Start II.

W76 Warhead / FAS

I wonder if the 1,700 figure quoted in the OP's article doesn't include the W76 itself plus the British variant ?



posted on Jun, 28 2008 @ 01:53 PM
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Originally posted by Niall197
I wonder if the 1,700 figure quoted in the OP's article doesn't include the W76 itself plus the British variant ?


Yeah, that's what I think.

I can't see any other way for them to have arrived at such a high figure. Britain has never had that many warheads for any of its nuclear missile or bomb programmes.

Like I said, they'd presumably be of a very similar design because they have to fit into the same missile. It's only the warheads that differ - the actual Trident missiles are the same used by both the US and UK.



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