Nuclear Triggers

Illegal exports to Israel

Krytrons resemble old-style radio tubes. The 1-in. by 2-in. glass-and-wire devices, which sell for about $75 each, are high-speed electronic switches that were developed in the 1940s and used in early office copiers. They are still used in weapons research and as timing mechanisms in firing medical lasers. But more ominously, they can act as triggers for nuclear explosions.

Last week a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted Richard Kelly Smyth, a California electrical engineer, on charges of illegally shipping 8,100 Krytrons to Israel without a required Government export license. The case is the result of a two-year U.S. Customs...

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