Telling Atomic Plowshares from Nuclear Swords

Whether you want nuclear power or a nuclear bomb, you start off with the same basic material: uranium. In both civilian and military nuclear programs, mined uranium is converted into a gas and then enriched in centrifuges to increase the proportion of U-235--the uranium atoms that start and continue a nuclear chain reaction. Uranium that feeds a power plant needs only 3% enrichment, but a nuclear warhead requires at least 90% enrichment, and more centrifuges. The difference is so significant that international inspectors would probably detect the enrichment change unless Iran chose to enrich its uranium covertly, slowing the process. A...

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