Friday, November 06, 2009

Is Iran Testing Sophisticated Nuclear Warhead Design?

Are the Iranians working on a sophisticate nuclear warhead design that would allow the regime to place nuclear warheads on its missile systems? That's the implication of a report in the Guardian.
The UN's nuclear watchdog has asked Iran to explain evidence suggesting that Iranian scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design, the Guardian has learned.

The very existence of the technology, known as a "two-point implosion" device, is officially secret in both the US and Britain, but according to previously unpublished documentation in a dossier compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian scientists may have tested high-explosive components of the design. The development was today described by nuclear experts as "breathtaking" and has added urgency to the effort to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

The sophisticated technology, once mastered, allows for the production of smaller and simpler warheads than older models. It reduces the diameter of a warhead and makes it easier to put a nuclear warhead on a missile.

Documentation referring to experiments testing a two-point detonation design are part of the evidence of nuclear weaponisation gathered by the IAEA and presented to Iran for its response.
The designs are used in advanced nuclear weapons, permitting smaller weapons that can fit on warheads. They are officially a state secret in the US, although the fundamental knowledge that goes into them are widely available.

That's why preventing access to weapons grade uranium is so critical. Once a nation has weapons grade uranium, obtaining a nuclear weapon is a matter of putting widely available technological components together. It takes a significant amount of energy and time to enrich uranium; thousands of centrifuges spinning furious for months at a time to get enough to make sufficient U235 for a nuclear weapon.

The IAEA doesn't know for sure if those Iranian tests occurred, and has no way of verifying either. Iran continues to obfuscate and thwart any efforts to contain its nuclear ambitions, all while continuing to threaten Israel and saber rattle against any attempts to make Iran conform to the NPT.

Also, revelations about these tests once again confirms the need to engage in missile defense research and the deployment of operational systems to prevent Iran from launching attacks against our allies in the region and Europe - all within range of Iran's missile systems.

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