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Identifying Nuclear Scientists Willing To Sell Their Knowledge 358

Harperdog writes "This is an interesting piece on U.S. programs most people don't know about: programs to identify and win over nuclear scientists who might be willing to sell their know-how to non-nuclear countries. Fascinating discussion, and points to the alleged Russian scientist who is reported to have sold information to Iran. How could he have been stopped?"
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Identifying Nuclear Scientists Willing To Sell Their Knowledge

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2011 @08:43AM (#38084316)

    I teach on a Nuclear Reactor physics masters course. We teach students from all over the world - I've had Saudi and Iranian students in the past. Everyone who graduates our course could have a decent stab at building a bomb. Why is this myth that the physics of constructing a nuclear weapon is a well kept secret? You could teach yourself, easily, from publicly available materials.

    The countries that the US and allies want to prevent from acquiring weapons are only held back by the lack of availability of the fissile materials. The physics is well known and the engineering is fairly straightforward.

  • Where was the US (Score:4, Informative)

    by Evtim ( 1022085 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:03AM (#38085610)

    when the Pakistani guy was selling the technology he stole from the Netherlands left, right and center?

    According to a BBC documentary I saw a few years back there were at least 4 cases where the CIA asked to "deal with him" and was forbidden because at the time the US wanted to empower Pakistan against India which has become “dangerously socialist”.

    So, under the approving eye of the west the dear doctor did sales pitches in Libya, Iran, Iraq, Syria and god knows where else. For more than a decade. Well done!

    To summarize:

    1. The nuclear powers have no moral right to deny development of nuclear weapons to any nation, especially since the most prominent member of the club is the only one that actually used them against civilians.
    2. Fight the “red menace” by funding and training religious fanatics, allow them to build the bomb and then come back to squash them later. Win-win!
    3. Lie your pants off in case they did not actually manage to build the bomb.
    4. Invade
    5. Profit

  • by wfstanle ( 1188751 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:42AM (#38086170)

    The matter of putting the knowledge of building an atomic bomb ando actually producing an atomic bomb is a wholly different matter. The facilities to make one are enormous. Before Neils Bohr was aware of the Manhattan Project he stated the opinion that ( I am paraphrasing) making an atomic was theoretically possible but to make one you would have to make a factory the size of an entire nation. When he later became a member of the Manhattan Project he toured the facilities and then stated (again I am paraphrasing)... I said that making an atomic bomb would require a factory the size of an entire nation and that is exactly what you have done! (He was probably talking about a nation the size of Denmark, his home.)

    Granted, the knowledge of how to build an atomic bomb is easy to master. In fact, it is easier to prematurely detonate a "Little Boy" type bomb than to actually deliver one to a target and THEN have it go off. An implosion type bomb ("Fat Man") is much safer as far as premature detonation. There still is the high explosive component of such a bomb which can go off prematurely. The chances that the resulting conventional explosion will cause a nuclear explosion is quite small. The explosion would be like a "dirty bomb" going off.

    PS. If you are interested in the history behind the Manhattan Project, I highly recommend reading "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes. It is easy reading and I understand that it is fairly accurate.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN