Showing posts from September, 2013

Heavy Metal in Tehran

I’m told that one of the hardest things to do when making nuclear weapons is metallurgy – getting the fissile material ‘pit’ [1] that sits at the heart of the bomb just right. You don’t want your pit to be contaminated by other materials, nor for it to be brittle or aerated – they’re all things that cause nukes to fizzle [2] rather than bang. If Iran wants to produce nuclear weapons, getting metallurgical aspects of its fissile material right is a hurdle that it needs to overcome. And it’s not entirely clear how much work Iran has already done in this area. The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran has admitted [3] to the IAEA that it conducted experiments in producing uranium metal from Chinese-origin uranium tetrafluoride. Helpfully, we also know from the IAEA that the pre-2004 ‘AMAD’ nuclear weapons development organisation had a ‘ uranium metallurgy project ’ [4] (dang, I wonder what they were working on?), and, given that AMAD ran for at least four years, it’s not a grea