Nuclear, radiological, and related weapons
PATRICE M. SUTTON AND ROBERT M. GOULD
The potential use by terrorists of nuclear, radiological, and related weapons expands the nuclear weapons threat to new actors with links to the global complex of nuclear weapons and nuclear power facilities. Measures to address this enhanced threat need to move well beyond law enforcement and military action, to the strengthening of stable, long-term global mechanisms in order to safeguard nuclear weapons and nuclear materials. At the same time, specific plans need to be developed to eliminate all nuclear weapons.
A nuclear weapon suddenly releases vast quantities of energy by splitting the nuclei of atoms (fission) and/or by fusing the nuclei of pairs of atoms (fusion) (Figure 12–1). It is estimated that even a crude nuclear weapon has potential explosive force at least 1,000 times higher than the most powerful conventional explosive ever deployed.1
The essential ingredients of every nuclear weapon are fissile material compressed into a “supercritical mass” so that the number of fissions will esca220