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Aldermaston's new bomb

leftThe Herald newspaper have reported on Britain's plan to build a new "High Surety Warhead".  This is likely to be linked to the US programme for a "Reliable Replacement Warhead".  The MoD has been very reticent about what is going on at Aldermaston.  They have refused to give detailed answers to questions asked in Parliament, or to divulge their plans to the Defence Committee of the House of Commons.

The Herald on 4 September reported on Aldermaston's plan to build a new weapon - the "High Surety Warhead".

In nuclear weapons jargon "surety" is a broad concept.  It includes the safety of the warhead.  The new design is likely to have improved safety features such as using Insensitive High Explosives.  But surety means more.  It also refers to the probabiilty that the warhead will work as intended.  Nuclear planners assess the probability of a nuclear warhead detonating with the planned yield.  For example, if the probability of the current Trident warhead detonating with a yield of 100 kilotons was 90%, then the High Surety Warhead may be designed to be 95% likely to produce the same yield.

The new US warhead is designated the "Reliable Replacement Warhead".  This name is designed to convey the impression that the weapon does not have new capabilities, but is only a replacement of existing designs.  However the reality is likely to be different.  Behind the scenes the scientists at Lawrence Livermore and Sandia Laboratories are working, not just to produce a safer warhead, but to design one which has a higher probability of exploding as intended.

This obsession with perfecting the art of Mass Destruction would be at home in the mad world of Dr Strangelove. There is no place for it in any civilised society today .

(photo - sketch of the new Orion laser which is under construction at Aldermaston)

 

 

 

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