# Iranian Nuclear Weapons

• News

## Main Question or Discussion Point

During the WWII the Manhatten Project developed nuclear weapons from scratch in about four years. With much of the basic research freely available and with far more advanced technology, why is it taking Iran (and for that matter Iraq under Saddam Hussien) so long to produce their own Nukes?

Related General Discussion News on Phys.org
russ_watters
Mentor
It also takes money....and also, if they are doing it they have a bigger secrecy problem than we did.

tiny-tim
Homework Helper
During the WWII the Manhatten Project developed nuclear weapons from scratch in about four years …
the manhatten project developed an a-bomb (uranium, fission, bomb)

iran is trying to go straight to an h-bomb (hydrogen, fusion, bomb)

Office_Shredder
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I don't think that's right tiny-tim, seeing how all the hullabulloo is about iran enriching uranium

cepheid
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I don't think that's right tiny-tim, seeing how all the hullabulloo is about iran enriching uranium
I think you still need uranium fission for a fusion bomb. One process is used as a catalyst for the other, to give you extra bang. I can't remember which way around it is. Intuitively, it makes sense to me that you'd need a tremendous input of energy in the first place to get runaway fusion. So maybe the fission is the trigger.

PAllen
2019 Award
I think you still need uranium fission for a fusion bomb. One process is used as a catalyst for the other, to give you extra bang. I can't remember which way around it is. Intuitively, it makes sense to me that you'd need a tremendous input of energy in the first place to get runaway fusion. So maybe the fission is the trigger.
Yes, fission is the trigger for an H-bomb. Either one needs diversion of enriched uranium. I had always assumed the suspicion was Iran working on a fission bomb, but I never checked this out. It never occurred to me that they might try jump directly to an H-bomb, so I never looked into what direction the suspicions were pointing (A-bomb or H-bomb).

most european countries do not have/want nuclear weapons because they are part of NATO, and being part of NATO means you have thousands of American nukes, and then French and British nukes. Then there are the many poor countries of the world that do not have the capability of making nuclear weapons.

Then there are countries like Japan, I'm sure it's obvious why they would be averse to arming themselves with nukes, but they are also allies of the USA, who has plenty of nukes to spare.

countries like China, India, N. Korea, etc. are countries that want nukes because it makes them look tough. Who would attack them if they had nukes? It'd be crazy.

It's the same reason why Iran wants nuclear weapons, I believe. They want to appear tough, so that they can exert more influence in the area.

cepheid
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Yes of course, the main reason for wanting a nuclear arsenal is as a deterrent against attack, and the assurance of security that is perceived to come along with it (although that's debatable). I don't think any world leader in his or her right mind would want an nuclear arsenal so that he or she could use it against enemies.

Then again, I could be wrong and naive. Furthermore, there is some question as to whether certain world leaders are really in their right minds. The recently deceased dictator of North Korea comes to mind.

Then again, I could be wrong and naive. Furthermore, there is some question as to whether certain world leaders are really in their right minds. The recently deceased dictator of North Korea comes to mind.
I doubt he would've been so stupid to use a nuclear weapon. He appeared to me to be a person who enjoyed living, and I thought him sensible enough to see that using a nuke would only lead to his own destruction.

Unfortunately, one cannot count on all present and future leaders to have a sense of self-preservation.

Pengwuino
Gold Member
Yes of course, the main reason for wanting a nuclear arsenal is as a deterrent against attack, and the assurance of security that is perceived to come along with it (although that's debatable). I don't think any world leader in his or her right mind would want an nuclear arsenal so that he or she could use it against enemies.

Then again, I could be wrong and naive. Furthermore, there is some question as to whether certain world leaders are really in their right minds. The recently deceased dictator of North Korea comes to mind.
I attended a lecture earlier today at the APS April conference and one of the speakers gave a short talk on his experience with North Korea. Apparently he was some sort of go-between with North Korea and various administrations since the 70s. He's an actual physicist I believe, not a diplomat.

At the end of his talk, he told us that he feels as if a nation like North Korea with a handful of nuclear weapons is of very little threat in regards to them actually using it. However, he believes that once a nation starts gathering many dozens of nuclear weapons, being able to use them starts becoming more of an option.

Staff Emeritus
2019 Award
During the WWII the Manhatten Project developed nuclear weapons from scratch in about four years. With much of the basic research freely available and with far more advanced technology, why is it taking Iran (and for that matter Iraq under Saddam Hussien) so long to produce their own Nukes?
US GDP in 1942: $2T (today's dollars) Iran GDP:$331B

russ_watters
Mentor
Manhattan project cost: \$26b (today).

I think that's just a touch more than we spend on foreign aid each year...?

I think a dangerous scenario would be when two nuclear powers engage in a non-nuclear war. Would not the loser in such a war seriously consider using their nuclear weapons before surrendering? Given that once a country becomes nuclear it stays nuclear, and that the number of nuclear countries will continue to rise, isn't this scenario inevitable?

Gokul43201
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I think a dangerous scenario would be when two nuclear powers engage in a non-nuclear war. Would not the loser in such a war seriously consider using their nuclear weapons before surrendering?
Here's a case to consider: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kargil_War

The reference, despite the title, refers to it as a conflict, skirmish or operation vijay. The sovereignty of neither nation was threatened.

When the sovereignty of a nation is being threatened, would they hesitate to use nuclear weapons or would the mere possession nuclear weapons be enough of a deterrent to prevent a war? If so, how will serious international disputes be settled between nuclear powers?

Office_Shredder
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
If so, how will serious international disputes be settled between nuclear powers?
You can't think of a single serious international dispute that was settled between nuclear powers?

There is a vast gulf between international dispute and war of annihilation

The fact that an international dispute was settled without nuclear weapons begs the issue. The issue is that as more and more nations develop nuclear weapons, won't the temptation to use nuclear weapons also increase? What would you do if you were head of a country that was being bombed into total destruction? Would you launch your nuclear weapons before surrendering?

Will MAD continue to be a deterrent when half the world's countries have nuclear weapons?

The fact that an international dispute was settled without nuclear weapons begs the issue. The issue is that as more and more nations develop nuclear weapons, won't the temptation to use nuclear weapons also increase?
No, because the more nations have nukes, the more likely it is that one nation using them will result in MAD (or even TAD, where T = total).

What would you do if you were head of a country that was being bombed into total destruction? Would you launch your nuclear weapons before surrendering?
The solution is simple. Let's not bomb other countries. Especially not the ones that have nukes. Instead, we could try that underrated little thing called 'diplomacy' and 'tact'.

On the technical site, the most suitable fuel for A-weapons is Pu239 because of it's relative stability and low critical mass. Wow, there used to be a time when that information was pretty confidential. However, due to the stability the Pu bomb needs some complex hi-tech additions that once was confidential too.

On the political/practical side, I think that nukes are highly impracticable for legimate states, as they tend to violate all international agreements. And with the ever increasing globalisation, it's just so 1960. For instance, just about any civilian target of real interest (metropolean areas) almost certainly also contains many friends, you don't want to hit.

During the WWII the Manhatten Project developed nuclear weapons from scratch in about four years. With much of the basic research freely available and with far more advanced technology, why is it taking Iran (and for that matter Iraq under Saddam Hussien) so long to produce their own Nukes?
Is it certain that they don't already have some sort of nuclear weapons? I have no idea. Just asking.

Bobbywhy
Gold Member
The intense saber-rattling of the United States, Israel, and other allies against Iran over its nuclear program is reverberating around the world. The official line from the United States and the European Union is that Tehran must be punished for continuing its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. The punishment: sanctions on Iran's oil exports, which are meant to isolate Iran and depress the value of its currency to such a point that the country crumbles.

But Iran continues to be defiant, claiming to seek only nuclear power generation capability. Iran’s supreme leader has said publicly that building an atomic bomb would be contrary to his religious convictions. Furthermore, Iran maintains it has the right to enrich uranium under the IAEA treaty. Israel and the United States have already admitted using hacking to disrupt nuclear energy facilities in Iran, conducting covert operations in Iran, deploying spy drones to Iran, imposing draconian sanctions and embargo against Iranian oil exports, banking and trade, deploying U.S. nuclear super carrier battle groups with destroyers and nuclear submarines to the Persian Gulf, and threatening Iran with military attack.

One argument in favor of military attack against Iran’s nuclear sites claims a nuclear-armed Iran would immediately limit U.S. freedom of action in the Middle East. With atomic power behind it, Iran could threaten any U.S. political or military initiative in the Middle East with nuclear war, forcing Washington to think twice before acting in the region. Iran’s regional rivals, such as Saudi Arabia, would likely decide to acquire their own nuclear arsenals, sparking an arms race.

In case of a military attack we can expect Iran to retaliate quickly against Israeli and American interests. Iran has ballistic missiles in its arsenal with conventional warheads that can reach Israel. Israel has the Arrow Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) system, the Iron Dome, a mobile air defense system, and David's Sling, sometimes called Magic Wand to protect itself from Iranian missiles. Also, American Patriot anti-missile systems are placed strategically around Israel.

Americans may think they are safe from Iranian counter-attacks, but they are wrong. There are American Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force troops stationed in every direction of the compass around Iran. All are within easy striking range of Iranian weapons and armed forces, including proxies supported by Iran. As of now Iran is surrounded on every side by United States military forces. To see a map of where our US soldiers are (there are some errors…no troops in Iraq any longer and Kyrgyzstan has only a few) look here: http://www.juancole.com/2011/12/iran-has-us-surrounded-all-right.html
Iran’s arsenal already boasts missiles with a range of about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) that were specifically designed for Israel and U.S. targets in the Gulf, the Shahab-3 and the Sajjil. The Iranians have already threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz, but if they did so it would harm their own exports as well. Additionally, Iran has coastal air defenses, shore-based long-range artillery, antiship cruise missiles, Kilo-class and midget submarines, remote control fast boats, and unmanned drones carrying bombs. Also, there are approximately 1,000 small attack boats equipped with machine guns, multiple-launch rockets, anti-ship missiles, and rapid mine-laying capabilities. Any military strike against Iran will surely result in large numbers of American casualties. All of them will likely become targets if anyone dares to attack Iran. Once Americans begin to die, the USA would be obligated to “defend” Americans and this would be used to justify full scale war against all of Iran.

There are powerful political, military, and industrial groups that manufacture and use armaments that prefer to avoid peaceful settlements of international disputes. They try to use every possible method to influence public opinion to be more receptive of their murderous goals. History has shown us that these groups typically rely on stupidly, greed, and fear to advance their agenda. But liberal democracies are based on the idea of “government of, by, and for the people”, and not powerful special interest groups. The change of policy to resolve disputes diplomatically can only happen by the combined efforts of individual citizens in that society.

In my opinion the international community, which includes American voters, should condemn the assassination of Iranian scientists, end all sanctions against Iran, end covert activities inside Iran, and end all war threats against Iran. I am confident that common sense and good conscience based on the ideals of brotherhood, cooperation, and trust will prevail. Otherwise peaceful coexistence with our neighbors will continue to be just a fantasy.

Bobbywhy

Who gave the US government, NATO or any other organization the right to decide which countries are allowed to have nuclear weapons, and which ones aren't?