The Corner

The Path to Weaponization

A reader auditioning to be my “Nuclear Weapons Guy” writes:

I worked as a manager for 30 years in the US nuclear weapons program and have been a consultant to places like Los Alamos for the past six years.    The NIE, if correct, still is of concern.  Making nuclear weapons involves two major initiatives: designing/building the weapon and getting the nuclear material for the weapon.  The NIE appears to say that the former has been (temporarily?) suspended, while the latter is proceeding.  Getting the nuclear material for a uranium bomb is by far the most difficult and time consuming part of the problem.  The US pursued parallel programs (uranium and plutonium) in the Manhattan Project.  US physicists were so sure that the uranium bomb would work that they did not even test it before using the uranium bomb on Japan (the one we tested in southern New Mexico was the plutonium bomb).  It is likely that the physics and manufacturing challenges for the Iranians are modest at best.  (Many of the physics students in my grad school 40 years ago were Iranians that planned to return home.)  Again, the difficult job is getting sufficient enriched uranium, and that program continues to be accelerated.    So… the NIE says that the Iranians have suspended their weaponization efforts, but in the total critical path to getting a bomb, I am not sure that it matters.   (and I would like to be your “nuclear weapons guy”) 

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More