Nuclear dismantlement is a critical step toward weapons reduction

A doctor from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory said in his lecture “It’s not all about certainty, it’s about making it harder to cheat” in response to a question concerning the lecture topic, nuclear dismantlement.

Doctor Glen Warren from PNNL discussed the lecture topic: Nuclear Warhead Dismantlement Verification at 4:10 p.m. on April 10, in Graf hall.

Warren was limited to much of what he was allowed to say as it’s a sensitive subject and he didn’t want be liable for discharging any information that could get him into trouble.

He started out his lecture with a small cardboard box that was sealed with tape.

He said he wanted to know how many Hershey kisses were in the box without opening it.

The box was used to illustrate what scientists deal with when disarming Nuclear Warheads’ and served as an introduction to Warren’s life.

Warren was introduced by associate and professor and department chair of physics Jennifer Heath.

He discussed that the shared missions of PNNL and Radiation Detection and Nuclear Sciences are to enforce basic science, high-energy physics, nuclear physics, treaty enforcement, nonproliferation, and interdiction.

Warren talked about the question that all audience members wanted to know, “Has a weapon actually been dismantled?” He mentioned that there is much checking up in the process of dismantling nuclear weapons, as scientists don’t know what countries do to their weapons behind closed doors.

The process for nuclear warhead dismantlement includes item verification with the host, which is the nation that has the warhead. Certification ensures that the system can be operated safely and securely.

Certification is absolute which means hosts take a large risk in revealing unwanted secrets.

An information barrier helps limit information that goes in and out of the system.

Templates minimize the interpretation of data.  Warren’s key point was that in order to reduce stockpiles of nuclear warheads, dismantlement verification is critical in the process.

Jonathan Williams

Opinion Editor

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