Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Antineutrino Detection may Have Profound Implications for the US Navy

The historic agreement between Iran and six world powers to curb the former’s nuclear development, concluded over the summer and expected to be adopted this month, relies heavily on verification. The foreign powers are keen to make sure that Tehran doesn’t acquire enough plutonium or uranium to build a nuclear weapon, and Tehran wants to demonstrate good behavior in order to get sanctions relief. That raises questions about the imperfect verification methods used by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), the organization charged with the task under the Iranian nuclear deal, and the International Monitoring System (IMS), a global network that detects nuclear explosions worldwide. Are they reliable enough? Some would argue no.

There may be, though, a new option for verification on the not-too-distant horizon. Antineutrino detection is an existing technology that, if political and diplomatic hurdles are overcome, could be put in place before the 10-year ban on Iranian enrichment R&D is lifted. And fully developed over the long-term, it holds great promise for monitoring similar deals in the future, and for reinforcing nuclear non-proliferation worldwide. Difficult to evade, antineutrino detection technology could allow the international community to reliably monitor a country’s nuclear activities in real-time, potentially without setting foot in the country. Similar in cost and technological scale to the space-borne reconnaissance methods governments use for detection today, antineutrino detection could not only help identify undeclared nuclear reactors, but could monitor nuclear facilities and detonations throughout the Middle East and beyond. More research and development could make this technology a viable nonproliferation verification option.

While I am not worried about the chance of a carrier battle group being spotting since stealth is NOT what it does nor is it wise to do for it, but rather for the ballistic missile and attack subs.  The sensitivity of this technology may make it possible to track the subs while submerged.  It depends on the shielding potential of water for the antineutrinos.  I suspect it won't be any better than an underground facility and if so, oh boy...that's a sucker punch.  Its a down right game changer.  Even if underground and subs are safe, mobile nuclear weapons would be perfectly detectable.  Putin's nukes on a train are beyond useless.

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