Arms Control Module


  1. The Space Shuttle orbiting at 250 miles has a camera with a focal length of 3.2 meters. It is using film with an optical resolution of 125 lines/mm. What is the camera's resolution? What must the focal length be to resolve a license plate (one inch)? Is this possible? Explain.

    A = 250 mile orbit
    f = focal length 3.2 m
    Ropt = 125 lines/mm

    Ground Resolution (m) = A(km) / [ f(m) x Ropt(lines/mm)]
      = 402.57 km / [3.2 m x 125 lines/mm]
      = 1.00 m (1 inch = .0254 m)
    .0254 m = 402.57 km / [ f x 125 lines/mm]
    .f = 126.8 m

    The atmosphere sets a lower limit of resolution of about 10 cm from a 160 km high orbit. This can be enhanced slightly through computer analysis.

  2. What features would you search for in a photograph of the Soviet Union if you were (a) interested in underground tests and (b) interested in the number of deployed missiles?
    1. A search could be made for drilling sites and the collapsing of the earth above the nuclear explosion.
    2. In this case, one searches for missile launchers and apparatus for fueling liquid-fuel rockets.
  3. What indicators other than seismic signals could you look for that might give some indication of underground testing?

    New depressions over the site of the explosion. Possible radioactivity if there were some venting to the atmosphere. A large amount of work activity in the region of a known test site.

  4. Design a treaty that will limit SLBMs. Focus on verification issues.

    The point is to appreciate that submarines are moving systems so that verification requires assessment over a period of time and knowledge of the number of missiles each submarine carries.

  5. Compare and contrast the US and Soviet nuclear forces. What problems does this pose to arms control treaties?

    The Soviet arsenal is more land based and have bigger payloads. The U.S. forces are split mostly between ICBMs and submarines. Direct one-to-one cutbacks creates an imbalance of power.

  6. Which nations do you think could make nuclear weapons from nuclear power programs?

    Argentina, Israel, India, Pakistan, and South Africa have extensive nuclear power programs. Japan and Brazil are also developing nuclear power programs.

  7. What technology and skills are required to produce nuclear weapons from their nuclear power programs?

    To make nuclear weapons from expended nuclear fuel requires reprocessing facilities capable of handling enormous levels of radioactivity and to perform chemical separations safely on such radioactive material in order to separate the plutonium from the uranium fuel.

  8. What is the connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons?

    When a nuclear reactor is apportioning, the neutrons accompanying the fission process can be captured in the uranium fuel to form plutonium 239, which is a fissionable material suitable for nuclear weapons.

  9. How did India make a nuclear bomb?

    By diversion of plutonium that was produced in a relatively high power research reactor.

  10. How is weapons-grade plutonium produced?

    Weapons grade plutonium is produced in reactors especially designed for this purpose. The plutonium is extracted before the isotopes plutonium-240, plutonium-241, and others contaminants have reached important concentrations.

  11. Why is it difficult to make a bomb using reactor-grade plutonium?

    Because reactor-grade plutonium would normally have been in the reactor a long time thereby producing isotopes of plutonium.

  12. Describe how U235 might be separated from U238?

    It can be separated by several physical means:

    1. electromagnetic separation
    2. gaseous diffusion
    3. laser separation
  13. Describe the differences between boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactors?

    In a boiling water reactor (BWR) water is heated and steam produced, which drives a turbine. In a pressurized water reactor (PWR), the boiling of the water is prevented by maintaining a system pressure of about 2200 pounds per square inch. The superheated water passes through a steam generator, which drive a turbine.

  14. What is the potential impact of breeder reactors to nuclear proliferation?

    A breeder reactor of 100 megawatts of power might have ~5000 kilograms of plutonium in its core, with 2,500 kilograms being processed, transported, or Stored at any given time. The potential for using this plutonium to produce nuclear weapons is enormous.

Company Logo About Us | | Support | Privacy | Site Map | Weblog | Support Our Site

© Copyright 1998-2015 AJ Software & Multimedia All Rights Reserved

National Science FoundationNational Science Digital LibraryNuclear Pathways Member SiteThis project is part of the National Science Digital Library and was funded by the Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation Grant 0434253