• Scorpius Images to Test Nuclear Stockpile Simulations

    One thousand feet below the ground, three national defense labs and a remote test site are building Scorpius — a machine as long as a football field — to create images of plutonium as it is compressed with high explosives, creating conditions that exist just prior to a nuclear explosion. The Sandia injector is key to validating plutonium pit performance.

  • Chi-Nu Experiment Concludes with Data to Support Nuclear Security, Energy Reactors

    The Chi-Nu project, a years-long experiment measuring the energy spectrum of neutrons emitted from neutron-induced fission, recently concluded the most detailed and extensive uncertainty analysis of the three major actinide elements — uranium-238, uranium-235 and plutonium-239.

  • Is Myanmar About to Go Nuclear?

    The specter of the world’s first ‘Buddhist bomb’ still hangs over Myanmar. It has been given impetus by the coup in February 2021 and the military regime’s increasingly close relations with Russia. The question must be asked: why is the junta expending precious resources on a nuclear reactor of arguable utility when it is already struggling with a costly civil war, an economy in dire straits, the collapse of government services and widespread poverty and hardship?

  • The Cyber Threat to Nuclear Non-Proliferation

    Most cyber scholars looking at the nexus of cyber campaigns/operations and the nuclear weapons enterprise—command and control, communications, and delivery systems—focus on the consequences of targeting the enterprise through cyber operations during militarized crises or armed conflicts between nuclear powers. Michael P. Fischerkeller writes that there is, however, a third geopolitical condition—competition short of crisis and armed conflict—where the consequences, although of a different ilk, are no less severe.

  • What's Behind North Korea's “Nuclear Attack” Drills?

    Pyongyang has carried out a series of unprecedented military drills and threatened to use nuclear weapons in an invasion of South Korea. It’s partly encouraged by closer alliances with Russia and China, experts say.

  • Nuclear Engineer Uses Machine Learning on Weapons Testing Images to Understand Fallout

    After WWII, the U.S. wanted to better understand what happened after a nuclear weapon was detonated. Researchers conducted tests in the southwestern U.S. and the Pacific Ocean and recorded those experiments on film. Scientists used the original reel-to-reel films to manually measure data from the blasts. Today, nuclear forensic scientists combine modern computational techniques with the historical records of nuclear tests to obtain precious insights into the physics of these type of events, which are otherwise hard to study experimentally.

  • Changing State Perception of Nuclear Deterrence in Japan and South Korea

    Japan and South Korea face the combined threat of an increasingly assertive China and a progressively more destabilizing North Korea, not to mention a Russia which has resumed its role as a Pacific power. The US has enhanced its engagement with its East Asian partners in nuclear planning and consultation mechanisms. The prospects of indigenous nuclear weapons acquisition by Japan and South Korea, though, cannot be ruled out.

  • The Nuclear Arms Race’s Legacy at Home: Toxic Contamination, Staggering Cleanup Costs and a Culture of Government Secrecy

    The Manhattan Project spawned a trinity of interconnected legacies. Among other things, it led to widespread public health and environmental damage from nuclear weapons production and testing. And it generated a culture of governmental secrecy with troubling political consequences.

  • Nuclear War Would Be More Devastating for Earth’s Climate Than Cold War Predictions – Even with Fewer Weapons

    A limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan could kill 130 million people and deprive a further 2.5 billion of food for at least two years. A global nuclear war including the US, Europe, and China could result in 360 million people dead and condemn nearly 5.3 billion people to starvation in the two years following the exchange.

  • Oppenheimer and the Pursuit of Nuclear Disarmament

    Stanford scholar and political scientist Scott Sagan talks about what the film “Oppenheimer” got right – and missed – about creating the world’s first atomic bomb: the politics of nuclear proliferation, Oppenheimer’s attempts after World War II to constrain the new military technology, and the frightening role nuclear weapons play today. “I think there’s a broader tragedy that came out less clearly: the political tragedy of the nuclear arms race,” he says.

  • Closer Look at “Father of Atomic Bomb”

    Robert Oppenheimer is often referred to as the “father of the atomic bomb.” But he also had his federal security clearance revoked during the McCarthy era, a disputed decision that was only posthumously reversed last year. Harvard historian unwinds the complexities of J. Robert Oppenheimer as scientist, legend.

  • Robots Could Help Verify Compliance with Nuclear Arms Agreements

    Ensuring that countries abide by future nuclear arms agreements will be a vital task. Inspectors may have to count warheads or confirm the removal of nuclear weapons from geographical areas. Those hotspots could include underground bunkers and require confirmation that no weapons exist in a location at all. Now, researchers have devised an automated way to ensure compliance.

  • Iran Can Produce Enough Weapon-Grade Uranium for a Nuclear Weapon in 12 Days

    Iran can now break out and produce enough weapon-grade enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 12 days, using only three or four of its advanced centrifuge cascades and little more than one-third of its existing stock of 60 percent enriched uranium. This breakout could be difficult for the IAEA to detect promptly, if Iran took steps to delay inspectors’ access. Within four more weeks, Iran can produce enough weapon-grade uranium for four additional bombs.

  • States Invest in Nuclear Arsenals as Geopolitical Relations Deteriorate: SIPRI Yearbook

    The new edition of SIPRI’s annual yearbook finds that the number of operational nuclear weapons started to rise as countries’ long-term force modernization and expansion plans progressed. The size of China’s nuclear arsenal increased from 350 warheads in January 2022 to 410 in January 2023, and it is expected to keep growing. Depending on how it decides to structure its forces, China could potentially have at least as many intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as either the USA or Russia by the turn of the decade.

  • Navigating South Korea’s Plan for Preemption

    South Korea has invested in systems designed to thwart a North Korean nuclear attack by preempting North Korean nuclear launch and attack missiles before they are launched – and also attacking the leadership and command and control nodes that support Pyongyang’s weapons of mass destruction. Clint Work writes that the South Korean approach is understandable, but that there is a catch: The constant talk of preemption “provides easy justification for North Korea to continually build more nuclear weapons. The result is that both sides may now be incentivized to adopt a “go-first” mentality during a crisis.”