Dr. Arms Control Wonk here. Noah's running around today, so I've hijacked the blog for moment.Retro fashions don't usually appeal to nuclear weapons designers, save for the odd Members Only jacket you spot on some poor refugee from the 1980sSo you might be surprised to find that uranium -- which fell out of favor with US nuclear weaponeers in the 1950s -- may be the hip Fall fashion in certain New Mexican locales.Over at my blog, I've started a discussion about a story John Fleck broke in the subscription only Albuquerque Journal.Bob Peurifoy, a retired Sandia executive, favors dumping plutonium weapons in favor of low-tech uranium designs. Actually, Peurifoy prefers the current US arsenal, but Congress says the weapons labs should relax Cold War design requirements to build new warheads that are more reliable and require less toxic industrial processes.In that case, Peurifoy says, you can't do better than Uranium 235, which isn't nearly as expensive, toxic or fickle as plutonium.Although a simpe uranium device (above, right) would produce a relatively small yield -- on the order of tens of kilotons -- dropping one on Kim Jong Il's Pleasure Palace would still ruin his day.(Special Retro Bonus: Click here for a retro shot of former Sandia, and perhaps future Los Alamos, Director C. Paul Robinson).
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