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Author Topic: Deactivation of a nuclear warehead  (Read 1804 times)

Offline BrettLamont

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Deactivation of a nuclear warehead
« on: 24/07/2013 21:52:43 »
I realize this may seem like an odd question however here goes: I recently saw the film Olympus has fallen, part of the plot is that the bad guys get codes from the president etc and activate a system that will cause all of the Nuclear warheads in the USA to self destruct in their silos. The panic was that if this happened the USA would be reduced to a waste land. IE all of the warheads would go to critical mass.

After consideration, the basics behind a Nuclear bomb is to reach critical mass, this happens in a specific way by combining U235 to create a critical mass or so I understand it, this is cause by a part A being fired into a part B and then and only then bang!

So if you create a self destruct then the point would be to disable the warheads ability to reach critical mass thus the mechanism would simply stop part A being able to be fired into part b. So you would just blow up one mechanism?

So if you self destructed all of the missiles there would just be a load of little bangs inside the warheads or the whole warhead would be destroyed but this would be a standard explosion (the plan being if you self destruct a warhead you would like to render it useless thus the enemy would not gain knowledge of the technology of the bomb or missile guidance system etc) with no critical mass and no nuclear explosion thus no big bangs and no waste land and so this part of the plot is just silly.

Am I wrong?



 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Deactivation of a nuclear warehead
« Reply #1 on: 24/07/2013 22:30:25 »
I don't know what the fail-safes that are built into the bombs.  At least the original nukes were activated by conventional explosives forcing the Uranium or Plutonium together.  Thus, if one added a secondary external explosive, then one would run the risk of activating the trigger for the nuclear explosion. 

The safest way to store the missiles would be in multiple parts that would need to be assembled.  However the cold-war thinking was that they could be fired in a matter of minutes.

Many of the cold war missile silos in the USA have been abandoned, and even sold to the general public.  I believe that the preferred method for deployment is in submarines and ships with no fixed targeting location.  Nonetheless, having dozens of subs exploding around the world would be equally bad.
 

Offline syhprum

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Re: Deactivation of a nuclear warehead
« Reply #2 on: 25/07/2013 20:35:08 »
There have been several accidents with nuclear weapons over years one quite near to me at Manston air base when a tanker aircraft crashed into a weapons store and caused a massive blaze but none went off !
They certainly do not have any self ignition mechanism that can be set off by a hacker on the internet! 
 

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Re: Deactivation of a nuclear warehead
« Reply #2 on: 25/07/2013 20:35:08 »

 

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