Wednesday, April 12, 2006

 

How close is 3.5% to 90%?

I asked contact who is a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Lab and specializes in the design of nuclear fuels to decrease the risk of proliferation if he thought a jump from 3.5% uranium enrichment to 90% bomb grade enrichment was a major technical hurdle for Iran to overcome. First of all, there are lots of small research reactors spread all over the world at universities and labs which use high enriched uranium. The easiest way to make a bomb would be to get your hands on some of this basically already enriched uranium from these very low security operations. Second, he emphasized that the technology to make a bomb is basically out there, and that if Iran already can enrich to 3.5%, there is very little to keep them from enriching to 90% and getting some sort of bomb made. While its delivery system may not be the most sophisticated, they could get something together. Note that a much more isolated North Korea may have already done this ... put a bunch of engineers in a room, and they'll figure out a way to make it happen.

Comments:
The scientists quoted here seem to think 5 years at the earliest. I am still not sure they have actually refined uranium. What evidence, other than Iranian government press releases, is there to verify that this enrichment capability has actually been verified?

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/13/world/middleeast/13cnd-iran.html?ei=5094&en=44bb292a8e2dfbaa&hp=&ex=1144987200&partner=homepage&pagewanted=all
 
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