Inertial Confinement Fusion - Inertially Confined Fusion and The Nuclear Weapons Program

Inertially Confined Fusion and The Nuclear Weapons Program

The very hot and dense conditions encountered during an Inertial Confinement Fusion experiment are similar to those created in a thermonuclear weapon, and have applications to the nuclear weapons program. ICF experiments might be used, for example, to help determine how warhead performance will degrade as it ages, or as part of a program of designing new weapons. Retaining knowledge and corporate expertise in the nuclear weapons program is another motivation for pursuing ICF. Funding for the NIF in the United States is sourced from the 'Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Stewardship' program, and the goals of the program are oriented accordingly. It has been argued that some aspects of ICF research may violate the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In the long term, despite the formidable technical hurdles, ICF research might potentially lead to the creation of a "pure fusion weapon".

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