It seems the North Koreans are developping nuclear weapons. Apparently, their representative said "something to the effect of, 'Your president called us a member of the axis of evil...your troops are deployed on the Korean peninsula. Of course we have a nuclear weapons program.'"
Looks like Bush & the gang went and shot themselves (and all the rest of us) in the foot. Not that I don't doubt that the reaction will be shock and outrage that the North Koreans would dare to develop advanced weaponry in the face of a threat from the most powerful nation in the world.
I suggest that a nuclear weapons program takes more than a few months to put together animist.
Posts: 3834 | Registered: Apr 2002
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I could put one together with some of my wisconsin physics friends in about 5 minutes... maybe a few hours if they were sleeping... and the funny part is, we'd have the funds to do it, too.
Look, a nuclear weapons program is NOT HARD TO DO. Everyone makes it out like a big deal. Its not. The hard part is having a self-sustaining program. They COULD have put together the program in the last few months. Not that I think they did, though. I think its probably a decade old.
Ev, as much as I think the whole "Axis of Evil" speech was a bad idea, I REALLY doubt that North Korea instituted their clandestine nuclear weapons program in response. It's been around for a long while. Posts: 22935 | Registered: Nov 2000
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While nuclear bombs are more economical than large armies, they do have very high maintenance costs. A part of our Pentagon budget does go towards the simple maintenance, and that part runs in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Posts: 3834 | Registered: Apr 2002
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TOm- Thats what I said. I said I think their program is a decade old.
That said, yes, maintenance of nuclear arms, and self sustaining nuclear programs are hard and expensive. Putting together a bomb is not.
Everard, putting together a bomb is very expensive because you need the infrastructure to build one, its not simply a model airplane you follow the instructions on. It is complicated, dangerous, and requires not only trained personnel, but special equipment to build one as well as maintain it. What exactly makes you think it is so easy?
I suggest you look at South Africa's "small scale" building of a nuclear weapons program. A very rich country, and it still required a great deal, not some physics guys and five minutes, as you so blithely and incorrectly stated.
I don't suppose anyone would say that George Bush was right on this Axis of Evil as animist pointed out (not willingly of course)?
In 1994 the Clinton administration offered North Korea a bribe to cease developing its breeder reactor and use the safer form which will not create nuclear fissile material. No problem there, any president would probably have done the same (I am specifically not blaming Clinton here). We gave North Korea a ton of money and a ton of technology to work on the safer type of reactors.
We have finally come forward to Korea and said, "Look here is the proof, we are going public" (much like the North Korean kidnapping and in some cases murder of Japanese civilians in Japan).
Korea: "Oh well, you got us. Yep, we were still developing nuclear WMD's. So come on by and we'll discuss it at the next dog barbeque".
So is a nation that starves its own willingly, responsible for many deaths abroad (terrorism abroad), terrorism with the South Koreans, a desire and willingness to to aggressively invade a neighbor that hasn't harmed it. Is the leadership of this nation evil?
Iraq? Yes North Korea? Yes Iran???
Some issues there include sending arms to the Palestinians, working in Afghanistan, using WMD against Iraq, ie chemical and gas warefare. Some might say no...
"What exactly makes you think it is so easy?"
The fact I know how to build one... a bit of information I am NOT going to transmit via the internet.
Any physics major in the country would also know how to build one. The only difficult part is getting the fissile material. Design and construction is pretty easy at this point... its been done, the information is out there, etc.
Sorry, but I doubt you know how to build one. Tell me, which alloys do you use for the bomb casing? What configuration do you follow for the explosives around the fissionable material to cause an implosion?
There's the story from cnn, in case you were wondering.
Tom: The nuclear weapons program probably wasn't in direct response to the Axis of Evil statement, but if you think that made us (as in, we the American people) safer, or made the world more peaceful, you're dreaming.
Baldar: I don't quite understand your point regarding the "axis of evil." Whether or not the nations you described are evil, they are not an axis; rather, they are isolated, and two of them kind of hate each other.
And if the criteria for being an "evil" nation is that it starves its own willingly, is responsible for terrorism abroad, and has shown a desire and willingness to invade a neighbor that hasn't harmed it then the United States certainly qualifies:
31 million Americans currently live in "food insecure" households. They could be easily provided for but are not.
Clinton's bombing of a pharmaceutical plant and Reagan's support of the contras are just two definition examples of an American administration's support for terrorism abroad.
The invasions of Grenada and Panama certainly count as attacks on neighbors that never harmed the United States.
So by those criteria the US is quite evil, and yet we certainly aren't part of an "axis" with North Korea, Iraq, and Iran.
[This message has been edited by Animist (edited October 17, 2002).]
Since Everard is too ethical to provide the recipe to build an atomic bomb, Baldar, I will. (Bwahahahahahah… )
I saw this on a TV program about nuclear proliferation years ago, so I am sure that it is not classified (unless some dufus decided to classify it after the information was distributed ). As I vaguely recall, it was Jack Lemon who demonstrated how to do this.
About 1 1/2 lbs of plutonium; Two metal mixing bowls (large enough to hold the plutonium); Plastic explosives (enough to cover the bowls); Detonators; Trigger device; Welder; Gieger Counter.
Place the plutonium in a mixing bowl. Cover the plutonium with the other bowl. Weld the two bowls together. (Use the gieger counter to monitor radiation levels. If the radiation suddenly increases, rip the bowls apart before it goes critical on you. It probably won’t explode, but it will melt the bowls.)
Once the bowls are completely welded together, cover the entire surface with plastic explosives. Place the detonators evenly around the bowl, so that all areas of the bowl will explode at the same time. Connect to the trigger.
This is a very basic implosion bomb. When the plastic explosives detonate, it compressed the plutonium, creating the critical density needed to cause an atomic explosion. According to the program, it has, at best, a 50 percent chance of working.
BTW, the odds are considerably higher that the person assembling the bomb will die (either from plutonium poisoning or radiation poisoning, especially if the plutonium goes critical).
Building an atomic bomb, once you have the plutonium, is that simple. The expense and difficulty normally seen in making a bomb is the delivery system and in making a configuration that increases the odds of exploding. (Please not that even with our best efforts, every once in a while one of our nuclear bombs fails to explode during testing.) But, depending on how much uncertainty you can live with about whether it will work or not (and how many personnel you are willing to loose), it can be rather simple.
So I believe that Everard is correct in this point.
I believe I saw a report on a more recent effort that took place in the late 1990's that again used three freshly minted physics grads and they were able to design and acquire the equipment for producing a nuclear bomb in a year.
It could be though that I am just misremembering the report referenced in the first link since I can't seem to find any mention of it online. (Although the report I remember specifically mentioned the acquisition of the equipment needed, whereas the above report does not...).
As to the maintenance costs of nukes. First, the more complex the nuke the more fragile the design and the higher the maintenance cost. Second, a substantial portion of that cost is maintaining the missles, not the nuke. Third, another substantial portion of that cost is disposal of radioactive material.
The biggest cost and difficulty is in obtaining the fissible material. Producing it is expensive and difficult. Stealing or buying it is also difficult, but probably doable given the findings of the NAP report.
Although Iraq has been a poster child of 'how difficult' it is, the biggest reason is that we have massive intelligence assets dedicated to stoping Iraq from obtaining such material, and have destroyed his assets that were being used to produce nuclear material. For this reason, groups or countries that might sell such materials are reluctant to deal with Iraq or related agencies for fear of raising the US ire.
You are both right and wrong Eddie. Theoretically a group of people can get together and "design" a nuclear weapon. But a weapons program requires significantly more than fissionable material. It requires exotic alloys, specialized meters that are specific to that one system. These materials are built in very few areas and are closely monitored.
So when someone says to me they and a few others from a Wisconsin University can create a nuclear weapons program, I am reminded of the 70's show where after a night of smoking some marijuana everybody is sure they could do it. Of course the show itself does not have much credibility as far as science is concerned either.
While I don't like the idea of North Koreans having nukes, it seems rather inevitable than any nation will desire to attain nuclear capability. It is an unfortunate state of foreign policy that a nation is not treated seriously until they attain such capability.
Nuclear capability is an obvious deterent to invasion and a deterent to your nuclear cabable enemies for using their nuclear weapons against you. Until a country attains nuclear capability they are extremely vulnerable to any strong foreign military.
Given the strategic importance it seems incredible that any nation that believes other nations to be hostile to it, or believes other nations may become hostile to it - and those hostile nations have superior military might - would not pursue nuclear capability.
Baldar- Plain words, because anything beyond first grade level seems to confound you.
YOU... ARE... UNABLE...TO...READ!
"maintenance of nuclear arms, and self sustaining nuclear programs are hard and expensive. Putting together a bomb is not."
The ONLY difficult part of building a nuclear bomb is getting the fissile material. In this world, that can be accomplished by sauntering over to ex-soviet states, and saying "i've got a little spare cash. want to sell a warhead?"
As waywardson posted, its pretty damn easy to put together a bomb.
And I still refuse to post ANYTHING regarding materials, construction, etc. Its dangerous.
"So by those criteria the US is quite evil," This quite true and a very good point. This has happened throughout history though. The US sees itself as the high and mighty and tries to change the world as it sees fit. The only reason we aren't considered evil by the world at large is because we've become much more subtle at getting others to do what we want. I think of the US foreign policy much like the Crusades, well intentioned yet misguided and taken too far.
Posts: 176 | Registered: Mar 2002
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Since the little knowledge I have here is secondhand, I'm just going to stand here in the background and repeat what I've heard fairly consistently from the 'physics buffs' I've been around.
Building a nuclear weapon isn't that hard. It's a fairly simple concept. Chunk of fissile material, compress it via a big explosion and . . . BANG . . . simple as that. The tricks are . . .
1. Surviving the construction process. 2. Making a bomb that is SURE to detonate. That's trickier than making one that MIGHT. 3. Delivery . . . how do you get it to somewhere useful. 4. Yield - Sure, you can use half a ton of plutonium to make a bomb with a 5kt yield. But you REALLY have to know what you're doing to make a bomb with a 50kt yield from 1 kg. (Yes, I'm sure those numbers are rather unreasonable in both directions . . . I'm illustrating a point here.) 5. - Actually GETTING the fissile material without somebody noticing. 6. - Maintenence - As was pointed out . . . if you want to keep it around in workable condition for any amount of time, you're going to have some trouble. 7. - Creating a construction process so you can make more than one. (i.e. what countries like Iraq and N. Korea would LIKE to do.)
No Ev, if you believe that, then back it up with some hard evidence. It is very very hard to put up the infrastructure for an atomic weapon. Do you have anything other than your assertion that its easy?
Look at the case in India . The number of research sites, enrichment and weaponization plants (you didn't think enriched uranium was enough did you?). All these structures need to be in place to develop one. Pakistan has much of the same. Iraq is in the process of building them and Korea has built most of them. It is not easy, otherwise you would have terrorists with these bombs now (there is enough enriched plutonium missing in the Soviet Union to allow for such a possibilty.
Would you please just stop whacking on each other...from your safe computer...from the comfort of your ole'capitalist produced computer..in your ole'dirty capitalist built home... You are supposed to be anti-violence but you are very violent with your syntax.
Does dopey...understand why and when we camped out forces on North Korea's doorstep?
...Don't know history?...can't understand the present.
Baldar, it seems like you are missing Ev's point.
1) It is hard to get fissible material.
2) If you can get fissible material, it is easy to make an explosive device.
The case you have thrown up about india shows point one to be true. It doesn't speak to point 2 at all.
I concede to you that you are completely correct in the level of difficulty in creating a maintaining the infrastructure necessary to have an ongoing nuclear weapons program, complete with development of missles and proper storage and maintaince on the nuclear weaponry.
But this is completely irrelevant in the creation of a simple nuclear device to be detonated at ground level within a month or two of creation.
Ev is missing mine. While it is difficult to find the fissile material (its still out there), it is just as difficult to by the parts to make the bomb, and its more difficult to build fabrication plants for the parts. Its not a simple matter of assembly and putting the pieces together.
Iraq with its many physicists, with all its money, with the ability to use many covert methods to put the bomb together, and the priority it has recieved still has taken more than ten years (and this is a whole country) to develop to the level of producing the first bomb. Korea, with the help of Pakistan and China still took more than ten years. So when Ev tells me he and his buds can get together and do it, I cannot beleive him because those with greater will and resources took so much longer.
quote:... it is just as difficult to by the parts to make the bomb, and its more difficult to build fabrication plants for the parts. Its not a simple matter of assembly and putting the pieces together.
Baldar, where did you learn this? Could you give us a source or some sort of documentation. Because I don't know where you got this idea.
I gave you a simple "recipe" to build a working bomb. Letter Rip gave you sources. You even came up with your own source for a simple recipe (albeit tongue-in-cheek). Yet you still maintain it is very difficult to build.
The time, difficulty, and expense of nation's atomic programs is most likely explained by the difficulty in obtaining plutonium and other fissionable materials, storing those materials safely, and making a device that has more than a 1 in 2 chance of working. Yes, those may all be quite difficult. But if you had the materials, especially plutonium, and didn't worry about safety, everything I have heard says it's not that difficult.
So where did you get the idea that it is? What's your source?
Letterips sources did not really speak to the difficulty of building a bomb as much as the difficulty of obtaining fissile material. I wonder, what is your source that says bomb building is so simple?
Posts: 3834 | Registered: Apr 2002
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But that does not speak to the ease in producing the bombs. Does the article speak of the bombs being around or the infrastructure or the fissile materials?
Posts: 3834 | Registered: Apr 2002
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quote:The article indicates they've been around since the mid '90s, produced with plutonium.
Also, the US is trying through diplomacy to stop N Korea from attempting to produce enriched uranium (which I guess is better than plutonium for a-bombs?).
My understanding is that plutonium provides a better (higher) explosive yield, but is more difficult to produce than a uranium based bomb which is easier to produce but has less 'bang'. Also, I remember reading somewhere that the US had given North Korea a chunk of change to not build nuclear power plants that produced enriched uranium as a by-product - which they've apparently done anyway.
Posts: 1015 | Registered: Dec 2000
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"US oficials declined to say whether the North Koreans actually have succeeded in producing the highly enriched uranium. But a non- government scientist who specializes in nuclear issues, David Albright, says his information is that the North Koreans are building a gas centrifuge to enrich uranum for use in nuclear warheads but have not yet made it operational. He said most experts he has spoken with believe the facility is two to three years from producing the enriched uranium."
The article goes on to claim that Korea is much better armed than Iraq and much more dangerous and irrational than Saddam.
The source (I looked Albright up online briefly) seems reliable enough. But the Bush administration, although tight lipped on specifics (avoiding commitment? or maybe future embarrassment?), is still saying Iraq is more dangerous, and has operational WMD.
quote:The article goes on to claim that Korea is much better armed than Iraq and much more dangerous and irrational than Saddam.
I accept the first portion of the statement, not the second. Especially based on recent developments including admitting that they have been developing nuclear arms, kidnapping Japanese, and are asking for aid money to develop their nation. Neither is necessarily irrational, but do exercize different degrees of evil Korea does not seek regional dominiation of a strategic area.
Baldar- I'm not missing your point. I understand that a weapons program is hard to do from the standpoint of safe weapons, cost of infrastructure, etc.
Let me quote from my second post on this thread. "Any physics major in the country would also know how to build one. The only difficult part is getting the fissile material. Design and construction is pretty easy at this point... its been done, the information is out there, etc."
Building a nuclear bomb does NOT require any materials that are hard to find, other then the fissile materials, as parts can be substituted so that an unsafe bomb could be produced. As wayward pointed out, you can find all the materials other then uranium in your own home. If you are an east asian country, you simply have to wander over to the ex-soviet republics in order to find that uranium or other material.
However, the primary thrust of my point is that a nuclear weapons program is not really difficult, until you start putting restrictions on that program... such as safety, or ability to store warheads.
For a bomb that works, you do need all those things, safety aside. You do need all of this. Do you think the Koreans really cared that much about safety (look at how they treated their populations).
You can't use a cadillac spark plug to make the Shuttle fly.