3. Japanese Nuclear Weapons Program

3. Japanese Nuclear Weapons Program - Chapter 3 JAPANESE...

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Chapter 3 JAPANESE NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM © M. Ragheb 9/2/2007 3.1 INTRODUCTION Japan, like Germany, failed to develop an atomic weapon or “genshi bakudan” during World War II, even though some unsubstantiated sensationalist accounts claimed that it succeeded in building one that was tested and detonated on August 12, 1945 near Hungnam in North Korea, shortly after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The surrender of Japan three days later on August 15, 1945 would have halted any supposedly existing effort. Japan’s effort had an important impact on the post war period where both Germany and Japan opted to develop civilian nuclear technology to the level that they have both become latent nuclear weapons states. While forsaking the actual manufacturing of nuclear devices and the exorbitant cost of maintaining nuclear weapons stockpiles, Germany and Japan possess the technical and resource capability to develop nuclear weaponry on a short time scale should either culture feel threatened at some future date. 3.2 JAPANESE EFFORT Fig. 1: Japanese stamp commemorating Yoshio Nishina. The head of the Japanese project is reported to have been renowned scientist
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Yoshio Nishina, a contemporary of Ernest O. Lawrence, Enrico Fermi, Robert Oppenheimer, Albert Einstein and others in the USA. He had spent several years at Niels Bohr’s laboratory in Denmark. He is known for the Klein-Nishina formula describing the interactions of gamma rays with matter. A crater on the moon is named after him. He established a high energy physics laboratory at the Riken’s Institute for Physical and Chemical Research in 1931. He built a 26 inches cyclotron in 1936, and another 60 inches cyclotron with a 220 ton magnet in 1937. In 1938 Japan also purchased a cyclotron from the University of California. Another personality was Ryokichi Sagane who had studied at the University of California at Berkeley in the USA under Ernest Lawrence. Other Japanese scientists traveled and studied in Europe and the USA and were knowledgeable of the latest developments in nuclear science. Japanese science was strong in areas such as theoretical physics, but lacked the massively coordinated organizational and industrial effort of the Manhattan project in the USA. Japan lacked the manpower in scientists and engineers that the USA enjoyed. It lacked the knowledge in certain aspects of science and technology required for a successful weapons program. It is reported that at one meeting some physicist suggested that uranium being a dense material, would naturally concentrate itself in the “wrinkles” of the Earth’s crust. This ignorance of geological facts and uranium mining was taken seriously by scientists on the project and led them astray. In addition Japan, during World War II, lacked access to the natural resources of uranium ores needed for a successful program. 3.3 THERMAL DIFFUSION EFFORT
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This note was uploaded on 06/16/2010 for the course NPRE 402 taught by Professor Ragheb during the Spring '08 term at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

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3. Japanese Nuclear Weapons Program - Chapter 3 JAPANESE...

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