Guarding nuclear secrets

  • Thread starter seazal
  • Start date
I know nuclear weapons technology is the most closely guarded secret in the world. But aren't there any leaks at WikiLeaks or elsewhere that can enable a citizen to build an atomic bomb?

What is the safety net that could prevent that?

It's not that I'm looking for nuclear information, but want to know how they can keep certain things so secret that the public will never be exposed to it.
I think a basic nuclear weapon would be rather easy to make in the age of the microchip and CNC machine. The quantity of fissionable material is the hard part. Secret bomb technology has little to do with it unless you're talking about max yields.
[MODERATOR: reference to a deleted post edited out.]
The explanation to build a nuclear bomb is really not that difficult if you understand the concept. For a gun type, all you're doing is take a mass of fissile material and set off an explosion which shoots the material into a larger mass of material. This creates a super critical mass which sets off a chain reaction that fissions the majority of the fissile material at once creating a huge explosion. This information can be found on wikipedia. I'd bet theres much more details available on the dark web.

The real problem is getting the material to actually do it. Natural uranium is 99% U-238, .7% U-235. To make a bomb you need at minimum 20% U-235 but ideally you want over 90% U-235. To enrich uranium requires putting it through a massive centrifuge to separate the isotopes and you need thousands of them to gradually step up the enrichment. It takes years of this process to stockpile enough material to make the bomb.

So say you want 5 lbs of 90% U-235 to make a bomb you'd have to process something like 10,000 lbs of uranium. Not exactly something you can do in your backyard.

If you're making it with plutonium it's even more complicated as you must use a breeder reactor to first create the plutonium

This is not something any country can do in complete secrecy. Just like we discovered North Korea building one and we discovered Iran trying to.
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Science Advisor
Plutonium bombs are further complicated by requiring an implosion mechanism. Gun type won't work.


Insights Author
Gold Member
The OP has been answered. In order to prevent this thread from drifting off-topic, it is now closed.
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