The gas centrifuge and nuclear weapons proliferation

Houston G. Wood, Alexander Glaser, R. Scott Kemp

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

The most difficult step in building a nuclear weapon is the production of fissile material. One can either make plutonium-239 in a nuclear reactor or enrich uranium to increase the abundance of its fissile isotope uranium-235. Historically, enrichment has been the more obscure of the two routes, but the recent spread of one technology - the gas centrifuge - from the Netherlands to Pakistan and on to Libya, Iran, and North Korea has brought enrichment to the forefront of proliferation. That development is challenging old ideas about how to ensure the peaceful use of nuclear technology and prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages40-45
Number of pages6
Volume61
No9
Specialist publicationPhysics Today
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 15 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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