H-Bombs for Everybody?
The Dangers of Nuclear Plenty
FOR the last fifteen years, the possession of atomic weapons has been the one incontestable criterion of great power status-and the difficulty of producing atomic weapons has kept the number of great powers very small. But a new phase is fast approaching. In the course of the 1960′s, more than a score of countries will be physically capable of producing atomic weapons for themselves if they think it politically worth while; and some of these countries, like Switzerland and Sweden, have previously been considered as only small powers in the game of international diplomacy.
There is no longer any purely scientific secret about the manufacture of atomic weapons. The engineering problems, though formidable, are within the capacity of any country which can produce, say, an automobile and a wristwatch. At present, the biggest obstacle is the cost of producing atomic explosive by the cumbrous systems of chemical separation. But fissile material suitable for weapons is a natural by-product of atomic power reactors. In the coming decade, perhaps half the countries in the world will start amassing the raw material for atomic weapons in the normal course of increasing their resources of industrial power by building atomic reactors.
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