skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information
  1. Structuring Cooperative Nuclear RIsk Reduction Initiatives with China.

    The Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation engaged several Chinese nuclear organizations in cooperative research that focused on responses to radiological and nuclear terrorism. The objective was to identify joint research initiatives to reduce the global dangers of such threats and to pursue initial technical collaborations in several high priority areas. Initiatives were identified in three primary research areas: 1) detection and interdiction of smuggled nuclear materials; 2) nuclear forensics; and 3) radiological (“dirty bomb”) threats and countermeasures. Initial work emphasized the application of systems and risk analysis tools, which proved effective in structuring the collaborations. The extensive engagementsmore » between national security nuclear experts in China and the U.S. during the research strengthened professional relationships between these important communities.« less
  2. Stockpile Stewardship's 20th Anniversary

    A short oral history of the NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Program, produced in association with the 20th anniversary of the program. It features Siegfried Hecker, Rose Gottemoeller, Victor Reis, Charles McMillan, Joan Rohlfing, Omar Hurricane, Roger Hagengruber, and John Taylor.
  3. Adventures in scientific nuclear diplomacy

    A former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory offers a first-person perspective on the important contributions scientists can make toward improving the safety and security of nuclear materials and reducing the global nuclear dangers in an evolving world.
  4. Visit to the Yongbyon Nuclear Facilities in North Korea

    Actions of the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have precipitated two nuclear crises in the past 10 years. The 1994 crisis was resolved through the 'Agreed Framework.' North Korea agreed to 'freeze' and eventually dismantle its nuclear program (with U.S. help to store spent fuel safely and under IAEA inspection). In return, the United States agreed (with the KEDO international consortium) to build two light-water reactors and supply North Korea with heavy-fuel oil until the reactors come on line. In addition, both sides agreed to move towards full normalization of relations, work for peace and security onmore » a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, and work on strengthening the international nonproliferation regime. The second nuclear crisis erupted when North Korean Government officials allegedly admitted to having a clandestine uranium enrichment program when confronted with this accusation by U.S. officials in October 2002. The United States (through KEDO) suspended heavy-fuel oil shipments and North Korea responded by expelling the IAEA inspectors, withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and restarting its nuclear program in January 2003. The North Korean Government has invited Professor John Lewis of Stanford University, a China and North Korea scholar, for Track I1 discussions of nuclear and other key issues since 1987. In August 2003, Professor Lewis visited North Korea just before the first six-party talks, which were designed by the United States to solve the current nuclear crisis. Professor Lewis was invited back for the January 2004 visit. He asked Jack Pritchard, former U.S. special envoy for DRPK negotiations, and me to accompany him. Two Asian affairs staff specialists from the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee also joined us. I will report on the visit to the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center on January 8,2004. We toured the 5 MWe reactor, the 50 MWe reactor construction site, the spent fuel pool storage building, and the radiochemical laboratory. We concluded that North Korea has restarted its 5 MWe reactor (which produces roughly 6 kg of plutonium annually), it removed the 8000 spent fuel rods that were previously stored under IAEA safeguards from the spent fuel pool, and that it most likely extracted the 25 to 30 kg of plutonium contained in these fuel rods. Although North Korean officials showed us what they claimed was their plutonium metal product from this reprocessing campaign, we were not able to conclude definitively that it was in fact plutonium metal and that it came from the most recent reprocessing campaign. Nevertheless, our North Korean hosts demonstrated that they had the capability, the facility and requisite capacity, and the technical expertise to produce plutonium metal. We were not shown any facilities or had the opportunity to talk to technical or military experts who were able to address the issue of whether or not North Korea had a 'deterrent' as claimed - that is, we were not able to conclude that North Korea can build a nuclear device and that it can integrate nuclear devices into suitable delivery systems. On the matter of uranium enrichment programs, Vice Minister Kim Gye Gwan categorically denied that North Korea has a uranium enrichment program - he said, 'we have no program, no equipment, and no technical expertise for uranium enrichment.' Upon return to the United States, I shared my observations and analysis with U.S. Government officials in Washington, DC, including congressional testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and briefings to two House of Representative Committees.« less
  5. The North Korean nuclear dilemma.

    The current nuclear crisis, the second one in ten years, erupted when North Korea expelled international nuclear inspectors in December 2002, then withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and claimed to be building more nuclear weapons with the plutonium extracted from the spent fuel rods heretofore stored under international inspection. These actions were triggered by a disagreement over U.S. assertions that North Korea had violated the Agreed Framework (which froze the plutonium path to nuclear weapons to end the first crisis in 1994) by clandestinely developing uranium enrichment capabilities providing an alternative path to nuclear weapons. With Stanford Universitymore » Professor John Lewis and three other Americans, I was allowed to visit the Yongbyon Nuclear Center on Jan. 8, 2004. We toured the 5 MWe reactor, the 50 MWe reactor construction site, the spent fuel pool storage building, and the radiochemical laboratory. We concluded that North Korea has restarted its 5 MWe reactor (which produces roughly 6 kg of plutonium annually), it removed the 8000 spent fuel rods that were previously stored under IAEA safeguards from the spent fuel pool, and that it most likely extracted the 25 to 30 kg of plutonium contained in these fuel rods. Although North Korean officials showed us what they claimed was their plutonium metal product from this reprocessing campaign, we were not able to conclude definitively that it was in fact plutonium metal and that it came from the most recent reprocessing campaign. Nevertheless, our North Korean hosts demonstrated that they had the capability, the facility and requisite capacity, and the technical expertise to produce plutonium metal. On the basis of our visit, we were not able to address the issue of whether or not North Korea had a 'deterrent' as claimed - that is, we were not able to conclude that North Korea can build a nuclear device and that it can integrate nuclear devices into suitable delivery systems. However, based on the capabilities we saw, we must assume that North Korea has the capability to produce a crude nuclear device. On the matter of uranium enrichment programs, our host categorically denied that North Korea has a uranium enrichment program - he said, 'we have no program, no equipment, and no technical expertise for uranium enrichment.' The denials were not convincing at the time and since then have proven to be quite hollow by the revelations of A.Q. Khan's nuclear black market activities. There is no easy solution to the nuclear crisis in North Korea. A military strike to eliminate the nuclear facilities was never very attractive and now has been overcome by events. The principal threat is posed by a stockpile of nuclear weapons and weapons-grade plutonium. We have no way of finding where either may be hidden. A diplomatic solution remains the only path forward, but it has proven elusive. All sides have proclaimed a nuclear weapons-free Korean Peninsula as the end goal. The U.S. Government has chosen to negotiate with North Korea by means of the six-party talks. It has very clearly outlined its position of insisting on complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement of all North Korean nuclear programs. North Korea has offered several versions of 're-freezing' its plutonium program while still denying a uranium enrichment program. It has insisted on simultaneous and reciprocal steps to a final solution. Regardless of which diplomatic path is chosen, the scientific challenges of eliminating the North Korean nuclear weapons programs (and its associated infrastructure) in a safe, secure, and verifiable manner are immense. The North Korean program is considerably more complex and developed than the fledgling Iraqi program of 1991 and Libyan program of 2004. It is more along the lines, but more complex than that of South Africa in the early 1990s. Actions taken or not taken by the North Koreans at their nuclear facilities during the course of the ongoing diplomatic discussions are key to whether or not the nuclear program can be eliminated safely and securely, and they will greatly influence the price tag for such operations. Moreover, they will determine whether or not one can verify complete elimination. Hence, cooperation of the North Koreans now and during the dismantlement and elimination stages is crucial. Technical discussions among specialists, perhaps within the framework of the working groups of the six-party talks, could be very productive in setting the stage for an effective, verifiable elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.« less
  6. Nuclear Terrorism.

    As pointed out by several speakers, the level of violence and destruction in terrorist attacks has increased significantly during the past decade. Fortunately, few have involved weapons of mass destruction, and none have achieved mass casualties. The Aum Shinrikyo release of lethal nerve agent, sarin, in the Tokyo subway on March 20, 1995 clearly broke new ground by crossing the threshold in attempting mass casualties with chemical weapons. However, of all weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons still represent the most frightening threat to humankind. Nuclear weapons possess an enormous destructive force. The immediacy and scale of destruction are unmatched.more » In addition to destruction, terrorism also aims to create fear among the public and governments. Here also, nuclear weapons are unmatched. The public's fear of nuclear weapons or, for that matter, of all radioactivity is intense. To some extent, this fear arises from a sense of unlimited vulnerability. That is, radioactivity is seen as unbounded in three dimensions - distance, it is viewed as having unlimited reach; quantity, it is viewed as having deadly consequences in the smallest doses (the public is often told - incorrectly, of course - that one atom of plutonium will kill); and time, if it does not kill you immediately, then it will cause cancer decades hence.« less
  7. PLUTONIUM METALLIC FUELS FOR FAST REACTORS

    Early interest in metallic plutonium fuels for fast reactors led to much research on plutonium alloy systems including binary solid solutions with the addition of aluminum, gallium, or zirconium and low-melting eutectic alloys with iron and nickel or cobalt. There was also interest in ternaries of these elements with plutonium and cerium. The solid solution and eutectic alloys have most unusual properties, including negative thermal expansion in some solid-solution alloys and the highest viscosity known for liquid metals in the Pu-Fe system. Although metallic fuels have many potential advantages over ceramic fuels, the early attempts were unsuccessful because these fuelsmore » suffered from high swelling rates during burn up and high smearing densities. The liquid metal fuels experienced excessive corrosion. Subsequent work on higher-melting U-PuZr metallic fuels was much more promising. In light of the recent rebirth of interest in fast reactors, we review some of the key properties of the early fuels and discuss the challenges presented by the ternary alloys.« less

Search for:
All Records
Creator / Author
#Hecker, Siegfried#

Refine by:
Resource Type
Availability
Publication Date
Creator / Author
Research Organization