|Misa' al-nuwr gamiy`an,
a popular saying in Egypt: While, nobody actually saw God, we commonly
internalize God's existence through logic. This brings me to the
following dilemma, which has been on my mind for quite sometime.
AN OBSERVATION ON THE VIRTUE
OF TESTING A PRODUCT BEFORE SUBJECTING IT TO MASS PRODUCTION:
starting mass production for any product, a test of its reliability level
is required. For example, no customer could be expected to buy a
specific model of a car before all the parts of its prototype had thoroughly
undergone rigorous testing. In short, without these comprehensive
and meticulous reviews and experimentations, the car could not expect to
be accepted by prospective buyers. This leads me to the following
problem outlined below:
all familiar with Israel's covertly hinting of its prolific nuclear arsenal,
while at the same time refraining from officially admitting to the possession
of formidable nuclear deterrence (estimated by some as 200 + warheads).
Their reasoning for non-admittance being that they cannot accept the limits
of the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) as long as the threat to
their survival continues.
unlike other nuclear powers such as the USA, Russia, Great Britain, France,
China, India, Pakistan and as of yesterday North Korea, no nuclear tests
were ever conducted by Israel. This leads me to wonder how on earth
Israel could have produced such a prolific arsenal without the recourse
of the testing of any of its warheads? Was this arsenal simply bestowed
upon them by another superpower? Or, on the other hand, is it simply
a classic ploy of pretending to have these super weapons in order to ward
off enemies with the threat of using them? Could it simply be that
we are dealing with yet another "Wizard of OZ" scenario?
of our informant readers have any opinions on this subject?
I would truly love to hear your ideas.
also skeptical about the Israeli claim. The reactor they got from the French
back in 1950s is quite a small one. To use this reactor for Plutonium production
takes a very long time. In addition separating Plutonium from the spent
fuel is a very complex process. Very long buildings that can be recognized
by aerial survey characterize the facilities that can be used to separate
Plutonium. Putting it underground requires extensive digging and activities
that are hard to conceal in a small country like Israel. Assuming they
have a Plutonium separation facility, I cannot see how can they produce
200 warheads using that small reactor in Dimona (1).
reactor's power is 40 Mega Watts. From this one can calculate the amount
of Plutonium it produces, which I find it to be about 3.5 kg/ year. Assuming
again that their Plutonium extraction facility is 100% efficient and assuming
continuous operations for 30 years that gives them 105 kg of weapons grade
Plutonium. This is the absolute maximum. In real life, as all scientists
and engineers know very well, there are losses, less than 100% efficiencies,
equipment failure, maintenance time, etc. 105 kg of Plutonium are hardly
enough for 10-15 Hiroshima type bombs.
if this reactor is a light water reactor, which I assume it is; then it
requires the Uranium fuel to be enriched to a minimum of 20% of the fissionable
U-235 instead of the natural 0.7%. This also means that they have Uranium
enrichment facility as well. This is a back of the envelope kind of calculations,
which could be an underestimation.
enrichment to 20% or more is also a very complex process. The Centrifuge
method has become a viable option relatively recently. In 1950s and 1960s
the common method was thermal diffusion where the Uranium Hexafluoride
gas is passed through hundreds of thousands of porous barriers. Again concealing
such facilities is difficult in Israel and it requires huge amount of electricity.
other reactor Israel has is a light water 5 MW American research reactor
similar to the Russian reactor Egypt obtained in the 1960s. This certainly
is not the type of reactor that can produce any sizable amount of Plutonium.
these calculations grossly underestimate the Plutonium production and that
Israel actually has 100-200 warheads, then we come to the testing issue
you raised. The possibilities are:
is relying on computer simulations, which has improved in the 1980s and
1990s. However, simulation software needs to be verified by experimental
data. Nuclear power states had enough data form their own tests to verify
and perfect their software. For Israel to rely on simulation software means
they obtained it from one of nuclear-power states.
2. They have
done tests somewhere else in another country that covered it up for them.
not sure if Israel can get ready-made bombs from another country. Remember,
US refused to give nuclear weapons to France and the Russians refused to
give them to China, which led both countries to develop their own. The
British develop their own nuclear weapons and did not even try to get them
from the US. If you give nuclear weapons to another country, there is no
guarantee that it will not be used against you.
an Arab point of view, it is probably safe to assume that the Israeli claim
is valid and perhaps try to develop their own nuclear weapons. While developing
nuclear weapons is a sure way to bolster the county's industrial and research
infrastructure, however, I must add using nuclear weapons against Israel
will have devastating effect on the Palestinian population and probably
all neighboring countries as well. I am not sure what is the best strategy
that can be used to neutralize Israel's presumed nuclear weapons. May be
we should have a discussion on this issue.