Proliferation, Plutonium and Policy

Proliferation, Plutonium and Policy

Institutional and Technological Impediments to Nuclear Weapons Propagation

1st Edition - January 1, 1979

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  • Author: Alexander De Volpi
  • eBook ISBN: 9781483152479

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Proliferation, Plutonium and Policy/Institutional and Technological Impediments to Nuclear Weapons Propagation provides a comprehensive account of the political and technological aspects of nuclear weapons proliferation. The technical feasibility of denaturing plutonium is addressed and the extent of the weapons proliferation problem is analyzed. Strategies for minimizing nuclear weapons propagation are recommended. This book is comprised of four chapters and opens with an overview of nuclear fission and the problem of nuclear weapons proliferation, paying particular attention to the importance of international agreements and safeguards in achieving a meaningful (but non-zero) level of restraint on nuclear weapons proliferation. The next chapter considers the use of denatured plutonium and other fission reactor byproducts as a technological option for mitigating proliferation problems. The impact of denatured plutonium on the global operation of nuclear reactors is also discussed. The final chapter assesses the major implications of all proliferation problems within the framework of a sound antiproliferation strategy. This monograph will be of interest to political scientists, policymakers, diplomats, and government officials.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword



    List of Tables

    List of Figures

    Chapter I: Nuclear Agony: A Perspective about Nuclear Weapons and Their Proliferation

    Nuclear Fission Fundamentals

    Risk of "Legitimate" Use of Nuclear Weapons

    Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

    Magnitudes and Motivations

    Acquisition of Nuclear Weapons

    Unsanctioned Diversion

    Threshold States

    The Time Factor

    The Motivational Factors

    Conclusions about Proliferation

    Chapter II: Technology to Impede Proliferation

    Section A: Technology Survey

    Weapons Security

    Technology Control

    Resource Controls

    Nonnuclear Energy

    Nuclear Power Fuel Cycle

    Section Β: Denaturing Plutonium

    Weapons Configuration

    Plutonium Characteristics

    Fission-Explosive Characteristics

    Critical Mass Data

    Neutron Emission

    Radiation Heating

    Weapons Characteristics

    Weapons Testing

    Thermonuclear Weapons

    Radiation-Dispersal Devices

    Net Effect of Isotopically Denaturing Plutonium

    Denaturing Uranium

    Other Forms of Denaturing


    Reactor Requirements

    Supply of Denaturant

    Effect on Safeguards


    Further Research


    Technology Conclusions

    Chapter III: Impact of Denatured Plutonium upon Worldwide Reactor Operation



    Supplying Denaturant


    Waste Recycle and Disposal

    Cost Impact

    Nuclear and Nonnuclear Alternatives


    Implementation Scenario

    Resultant Impact

    Chapter IV: Policy Ramifications


    National Priorities

    International Agreements

    Denaturant Supply

    Implementation Perspective

    Risk Assessment

    Other Goals


    U.S. Non-Proliferation Act

    Comprehensive Antiproliferation Program



    Conclusions and Summaries

    Selected Conclusions

    Nontechnical Summary

    Technical Summary



    A: Critical Mass Curves

    B: Fuel Cycle Work Sheets

    C: Denaturant Logistics

    Potential Supply

    Potential Demand

    Denaturant Production

    Small Power Reactors



    D: Weaknesses of Various Antiproliferation Methods

    Overt Governmentally-Sanctioned Diversion

    Covert Governmentally-Sanctioned Diversion

    Nongovernmental (Unsanctioned) Diversion

    Prediversion Actions

    E: Comparative Effectiveness of Antiproliferation Methods

    Constraints Applied In Tables E-1 through E-4

    F: Differences in Interpretation or Emphasis

    Nuclear Weapons Technology

    The Adaptability of Fissile Materials to Nuclear Explosives

    International Safeguards and Nuclear Industry

    Willrich and Taylor

    Nuclear Safeguards

    Laurence Livermore Laboratory Report

    A Nuclear-Armed Crowd

    Greenwood, Feiveson and Taylor

    The Ford Foundation/Mitre Report

    Aps Study on the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

    Remarks of Victor Gilinsky


    Unpublished Objections

    The Semantics of Denaturing


    G: A Synopsis of the 1970 Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons

    H: Radiation Heating and Predetonation Supplement

    Thermal Analysis

    Energy-Release Analysis

    I: Decision-Making Processes

    J: Statement Resulting from International Scientific Forum

    K: Summary of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Act of 1978

    L: Technical Factors Affecting Explosive-Yield of Plutonium

    Basis for Risk Assessment

    Reference Yields

    Reactivity Insertion Rates and Durations

    Parametric Relationships

    Critical Mass

    Phase Change

    Radial Compression

    Subcritical Multiplication


    Minimum Yield

    Generation Time

    Reactivity Limit

    Surface Leakage

    Net Yield


    M: Recommendations of the Atlantic Council Policy Paper


    Acronyms and Abbreviations



    About the Author

Product details

  • No. of pages: 386
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Pergamon 1979
  • Published: January 1, 1979
  • Imprint: Pergamon
  • eBook ISBN: 9781483152479

About the Author

Alexander De Volpi

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