Register to reply

Why is Atom Bomb limited to certain countries?

by zorro
Tags: atom, bomb, countries, limited
Share this thread:
zorro
#1
Dec15-10, 11:13 AM
P: 1,394
Why can't every country make an 'Atom Bomb' ?
Everyone knows that we require a fissionable material and an explosive. What else is required that is to be invented (rather discovered) by other countries?

All comments are welcome.
Phys.Org News Partner Science news on Phys.org
'Smart material' chin strap harvests energy from chewing
King Richard III died painfully on battlefield
Capturing ancient Maya sites from both a rat's and a 'bat's eye view'
inflector
#2
Dec15-10, 12:23 PM
inflector's Avatar
P: 337
Quote Quote by Abdul Quadeer View Post
Why can't every country make an 'Atom Bomb' ?
Everyone knows that we require a fissionable material and an explosive.
You make it sound like getting the fissile material is easy.

Read up on the first atomic bomb effort, the Manhattan project, and you'll see that the primary obstacle was sufficient highly enriched fissile material, they tried Pu 239 and U 235. In the case of Pu 239, and all Plutonium, the material itself is synthetic and comes as a byproduct of nuclear reactors.

To be considered weapons-grade it must be 93% pure. Separating out the isotopes and impurities is the problem. That's why it requires huge expense and large-scale industrial effort to get enough for even one bomb. They isotopes cannot be separated chemically. This is why you generally hear of centrifuges in countries trying to develop nuclear weapons, the centrifuges separate the lighter and heavier isotopes. See here for other methods used in the Manhattan project: http://www.atomicarchive.com/History/mp/p2s2.shtml

For U 235, it must be 85% pure but naturally occurs in Uranium only 0.72% of the time in U. So you still have the separation problem after the refining to pure U has been done.

There are other issues as well, but that's the big one. These other issues generally revolve around reliably getting a good symmetric explosion so that you achieve supercritical mass as quickly as possible. The good solutions to some of these issues are still classified top-secret or higher in the U.S.
zorro
#3
Dec15-10, 01:17 PM
P: 1,394
We can seperate U-235 from U-238 by many methods such as thermal diffusion, gaseous diffusion, electromagnetic seperation etc. Do you mean that just knowing a method is different from getting the desired results?

NobodySpecial
#4
Dec15-10, 01:39 PM
P: 474
Why is Atom Bomb limited to certain countries?

Quote Quote by Abdul Quadeer View Post
We can seperate U-235 from U-238 by many methods such as thermal diffusion, gaseous diffusion, electromagnetic seperation etc. Do you mean that just knowing a method is different from getting the desired results?
Yes it's what we call engineering
Whats even harder is doing it in secret.

Mostly it's not worth it - the bomb is pretty much only useful if you are going to use it, which means you have more enemies that have the bomb and might use it on you than you have allies who might object.

So it makes sense for Iran, N. Korea etc to have one but no sense for S. Africa, Sweden, Brazil etc (who all had bomb programs that they abandoned)
zorro
#5
Dec15-10, 02:06 PM
P: 1,394
Quote Quote by NobodySpecial View Post
Mostly it's not worth it - the bomb is pretty much only useful if you are going to use it, which means you have more enemies that have the bomb and might use it on you than you have allies who might object.
I don't agree with you. Its just like saying that knowing Karate, Judo etc is useless unless some attacks you. We should be prepared for everything. If you have power, no one can overpower you. At the same time, you should not misuse your power.
NobodySpecial
#6
Dec15-10, 02:14 PM
P: 474
Quote Quote by Abdul Quadeer View Post
If you have power, no one can overpower you.
But you don't have infinite power - you can relatively easily make a 10-15Kt U Hiroshima style. But then if doing this annoys the couple of countries that can drop 10,000 * 1Mt thermonuclear devices on you then you have lost.
zorro
#7
Dec15-10, 02:46 PM
P: 1,394
Quote Quote by NobodySpecial View Post
But then if doing this annoys the couple of countries that can drop 10,000 * 1Mt thermonuclear devices on you then you have lost.
Why should it annoy? Every country (according to me) should have freedom to advance in science and technology as long as it does not harm others.
Norman
#8
Dec15-10, 03:18 PM
P: 922
Quote Quote by Abdul Quadeer View Post
Why should it annoy? Every country (according to me) should have freedom to advance in science and technology as long as it does not harm others.
The very purpose of a bomb is to hurt people...
zorro
#9
Dec15-10, 03:25 PM
P: 1,394
Quote Quote by Norman View Post
The very purpose of a bomb is to hurt people...
Yes it is. Its purpose should be to hurt people who hurt you.
dav2008
#10
Dec15-10, 03:43 PM
PF Gold
dav2008's Avatar
P: 621
At this point I think it's more diplomacy than anything. Pretty much every nation has signed the non-proliferation treaty.

The nations that haven't signed it are actively pursuing or have a nuclear program and I don't think there's anything technological that's holding them back. Obviously having less resources means they'll get there slower, but they'll still get there.
ErichB
#11
Dec15-10, 03:44 PM
P: n/a
Abdul, you have heard the saying that "the people who have the power make the rules", right? That's exactly the case with atomic/nuclear weapons issue with countries across the globe. Certainly not a fair rule, but relevant and applicable nevertheless.

You say that every country "should have freedom to advance in science and technology as long as it does not harm others." However, in the case with nuclear weapons, that reasoning does not apply as Norman already pointed out that the purpose of a nuclear weapon is to hurt people.

There is also a case regarding Iran building nuclear power plants, which seems to be a harmless application of nuclear technology, but it raises an issue: what will Iran do with all their nuclear waste byproducts? Unless Iran has a safe way of disposing nuclear waste byproducts, the nuclear waste byproduct has but only one "useful" application instead of sitting around and polluting the environment: developing nuclear weapons.
zorro
#12
Dec15-10, 04:11 PM
P: 1,394
Quote Quote by ErichB View Post
You say that every country "should have freedom to advance in science and technology as long as it does not harm others." However, in the case with nuclear weapons, that reasoning does not apply as Norman already pointed out that the purpose of a nuclear weapon is to hurt people.
I already replied to this in my post number 9. If someone hurts you, you don't sit back and let others harm you.


Quote Quote by ErichB View Post
Unless Iran has a safe way of disposing nuclear waste byproducts, the nuclear waste byproduct has but only one "useful" application instead of sitting around and polluting the environment: developing nuclear weapons.
I don't know what is Iran doing. If it is making nuclear weapons I don't have any problem as long as it does not harm others. Moreover, its not necessary that nuclear waste byproducts are created only due to developing of nuclear weapons.
jobyts
#13
Dec15-10, 04:23 PM
P: 216
Quote Quote by Abdul Quadeer View Post
If it is making nuclear weapons I don't have any problem as long as it does not harm others.
Even if Iran (or any other country) hurts others with nuclear weapons, you will not have a problem. Because you (humanity) do not exist.
Gokul43201
#14
Dec15-10, 04:28 PM
Emeritus
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Gokul43201's Avatar
P: 11,155
Quote Quote by Abdul Quadeer View Post
I don't know what is Iran doing. If it is making nuclear weapons I don't have any problem as long as it does not harm others.
What happens if it does [harm others]? Bombing it back in retaliation doesn't save any lives.
Proton Soup
#15
Dec15-10, 04:30 PM
P: 1,070
Quote Quote by Abdul Quadeer View Post
Why can't every country make an 'Atom Bomb' ?
Everyone knows that we require a fissionable material and an explosive. What else is required that is to be invented (rather discovered) by other countries?

All comments are welcome.
seems to require huge amounts of money and resources, even when you have the plans.
nismaratwork
#16
Dec15-10, 04:34 PM
P: 2,284
Quote Quote by Abdul Quadeer View Post
I already replied to this in my post number 9. If someone hurts you, you don't sit back and let others harm you.
This is the game a country that gets a nuke enters, and as others have mentioned, they do so at a massive disadvantage. In fact, as a defensive weapon you need enough bombs and deploy them in such a fashion that your "peace" is just peace at daggers drawn.




Quote Quote by Abdul Quadeer View Post
I don't know what is Iran doing. If it is making nuclear weapons I don't have any problem as long as it does not harm others. Moreover, its not necessary that nuclear waste byproducts are created only due to developing of nuclear weapons.
Other nations do care, and are afraid... what kind of fool scares a potential foe that can LITERALLY wipe your nation off the face of the earth? Life isn't fair, and international politics doesn't even PRETEND to be fair...
zorro
#17
Dec15-10, 05:31 PM
P: 1,394
Quote Quote by Gokul43201 View Post
What happens if it does [harm others]? Bombing it back in retaliation doesn't save any lives.
How can you say that? I think it should not harm others unless someone wages a war on it.
Other countries- India, Pakistan, N.Korea , Israel all have Nuclear Power. But they did not harm others ( till now ). Well they can (harm others) in the future - I don't know - nothing can be said about it. But again I think you should be ready for every thing. I am proud to say that my country (India) has Nuclear Power and is capable of retaliating against the toughest enemy. So should be any other country.


Quote Quote by nismaratwork View Post
This is the game a country that gets a nuke enters, and as others have mentioned, they do so at a massive disadvantage. In fact, as a defensive weapon you need enough bombs and deploy them in such a fashion that your "peace" is just peace at daggers drawn.

Other nations do care, and are afraid... what kind of fool scares a potential foe that can LITERALLY wipe your nation off the face of the earth? Life isn't fair, and international politics doesn't even PRETEND to be fair...
Yes I agree. Its all politics. NPT is flawed. Nothing is fair. Those who are in power make the rules.
I asked something else and this topic ended here. I don't understand why people here gave an example against Iran. There are other countries too which have nuclear power.
G01
#18
Dec15-10, 05:55 PM
HW Helper
G01's Avatar
P: 2,685
Quote Quote by Abdul Quadeer View Post
How can you say that? I think it should not harm others unless someone wages a war on it.[
I think Gokul's point is that the solution of everyone having nuclear weapons so that they can kill other who kill them is not a solution. It just sets up a self perpetuating cycle leading to more people dying and giving even more excuses to use the bombs.

The real goal is that eventually no one should have nuclear weapons. They are not a good thing. No one thinks that they are. That is why stockpiles are slowly being reduced in the countries that have the most nuclear weapons.


I don't understand why people here gave an example against Iran. There are other countries too which have nuclear power.
Fair enough, but Iran is the current events topic in this area recently. You can't fault people for making that connection.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Antimatter bomb vs tsar bomb High Energy, Nuclear, Particle Physics 20
How many countries can you name? General Discussion 33
Different Countries General Discussion 19
Atom Bomb Introductory Physics Homework 0
So, What Exactly is Going On With All the Other Third World Countries? Current Events 3