Gregory S. Jones, “North Korea’s Sixth Nuclear Test: Was It a Hydrogen Bomb?” September 18, 2017.  North Korea’s sixth nuclear test had a yield significantly higher than its previous nuclear tests.  However, the test was probably not that of a full yield hydrogen bomb.  More likely possibilities are either a pure fission device or a device related to the development of a hydrogen bomb.  Whatever type of device was tested is likely too large and heavy to be carried on North Korea’s ICBM.  A more reasonable possibility for an ICBM warhead is a small, lightweight pure fission weapon with a yield of 10 to 30 kilotons.  To read a pdf of the full paper click here

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Gregory S. Jones, “The Role of Boosting in Nuclear Weapons Programs,” July 25, 2017.  Boosting is not an intermediate technology on the road to two-stage thermonuclear weapons.  Four of the five countries that possess two-stage thermonuclear weapons have developed and/or deployed these weapons before boosted weapons.  In countries that have not developed two-stage thermonuclear weapons, stand-alone boosted weapons may be used to provide small, light weapons that use reduced amounts of nuclear material.  To read a pdf of the full paper click here

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Gregory S. Jones, “History of U.S. Production of Tritium 1948-1988,” June 12, 2017.  This history demonstrates that though the U.S. tested its first boosted nuclear weapon in 1951, it did not quickly decide to deploy such weapons which the U.S. did not produce until 1957.  The history also shows that at the peak of the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the 1960s, the U.S. tritium stockpile was roughly 100 kilograms.  To produce tritium the U.S. initially used natural lithium but later used lithium enriched up to 50%. To read a pdf of the full paper click here

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Gregory S. Jones “U.S. Increased Tritium Production Driven by Plan to Increase the Quantity of Tritium per Nuclear Weapon,” June 2, 2016.  Tritium is a vital component of every U.S. nuclear weapon.  The U.S. plans to significantly increase the amount of tritium per weapon.  This change is intended to reduce the frequency with which the tritium reservoirs in the weapons are replaced and to help ensure weapon reliability in an era where there is no nuclear testing.  I have estimated that the average amount of tritium per weapon will increase by about 50% from about 3.2 grams to roughly 4.5 to 5.0 grams.  Tritium production will need to rise significantly and will require the use of a second commercial nuclear power reactor.  To read a pdf of the full paper click here

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Gregory S. Jones, “Heavy Water Nuclear Power Reactors: A Source of Tritium for Potential South Korean Boosted Fission Weapons,” February 29, 2016.  South Korea has accumulated an unsafeguarded stockpile of over four kilograms of tritium extracted from its heavy water moderated nuclear power plants.  If South Korea should give in to calls for it to develop nuclear weapons, the tritium could be used to boost any nuclear weapon that South Korea produces. To read a pdf of the full paper click here 

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Gregory S. Jones, "The Implications of North Korea Testing a Boosted Nuclear Weapon,” January 11, 2016.  North Korea may have tested a boosted fission weapon on January 6, 2016.  If so North Korea can now manufacture small light-weight nuclear weapons with reduced fissile material content, without sacrificing yield.  These weapons could allow North Korea to easily equip its ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads and to rapidly expand its nuclear arsenal.  The continued diffusion of boosting technology could make such weapons the norm for all countries seeking to acquire nuclear weapons. To read a pdf of the full paper click here

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Gregory S. Jones, “Fissile Material Conversion Times, Wastage and Significant Quantities: Lessons from the Manhattan Project,” December 16, 2015.  The experience of the Manhattan Project demonstrates that the time required to produce the fissile material metal core for a nuclear weapon starting from uranium hexafluoride or plutonium nitrate is only about one week.  The wastage in this process is no more than 3% to 6%.  Even for the simple Nagasaki weapon design, the IAEA estimates of “significant quantities” are too high.  To read a pdf of the full paper click here