A relatively new technology for enriching uranium known as “Separation of Isotopes by Laser Excitation” or SILEX is described in some fresh detail in a recent Los Alamos paper (pdf).
SILEX, developed in 1992 by Australian scientists, is the rarest of birds in U.S. classification policy: It is privately generated information that is nevertheless classified by the U.S. government.
Ordinarily, information must be owned or controlled by the government in order to be eligible for classification in the first place. But under the peculiar terms of the Atomic Energy Act, the government may impose classification on “all” information concerning nuclear weapons and related matters that has not been previously declassified.
Since the new SILEX technology has never been declassified, it is ipso facto classified, despite the fact that it was generated by private (and foreign) researchers. It is the only known case in which the Atomic Energy Act has been used in this constitutionally questionable manner. (See Secrecy News, 06/26/01).
Unclassified details of the SILEX process, which uses pulsed lasers to selectively excite uranium hexafluoride molecules containing uranium-235, are presented in “Enrichment Separative Capacity for SILEX” by John L. Lyman, Los Alamos National Laboratory, LA-UR-05-3786 (thanks to WT).
To empower new voices to start their career in nuclear weapons studies, the Federation of American Scientists launched the New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellowship. Here’s what our inaugural cohort accomplished.
Common frameworks for evaluating proposals leave this utility function implicit, often evaluating aspects of risk, uncertainty, and potential value independently and qualitatively.
The FAS Nuclear Notebook is one of the most widely sourced reference materials worldwide for reliable information about the status of nuclear weapons and has been published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists since 1987. The Nuclear Notebook is researched and written by the staff of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project: Director Hans […]
According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ August 2023 pulse panel, 60% of public schools were utilizing a “community school” or “wraparound services model” at the start of this school year—up from 45% last year.