A quantitative assessment of nuclear weapons proliferation risk utilizing probabilistic methods
Author(s)Sentell, Dennis Shannon, 1971-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Nuclear Engineering.
Michael W. Golay.
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A comparative quantitative assessment is made of the nuclear weapons proliferation risk between various nuclear reactor/fuel cycle concepts using a probabilistic method. The work presented details quantified proliferation resistance metrics of a pressurized water reactor (PWR), a PWR utilizing thorium as a fertile component of the nuclear fuel (Radkowsky Thorium Reactor-RTR) and a high temperature, gas cooled, reactor with a pebble bed core (PBMR). This probabilistic method permits integration of all aspects of fissile material proliferation in formulating an overall estimate of relative proliferation risk. The reactor/fuel cycle concepts are examined along a "weapons-useable plutonium diverted from spent reactor fuel" proliferation pathway in order to determine these values, and concepts with low values of this estimate are favorable for continued development in terms of lowered proliferation potential. A determination is also made of those reactor/fuel cycle technical features that contribute the most to minimizing the proliferation success within these risk estimates. Identification of areas affecting these "importance measures", (i.e., reactor/fuel cycle practices, technical features, safeguard practices and resource allocations) allows for further research into these vital areas. The example and results presented in this work are an illustration of an integrated analysis utilizing a probabilistic method. The subjectivity used in determining various factors and confidence levels for this analysis is based on the author's own reasoning, opinion and judgment in light of political, economic and technical considerations. The results, implications and conclusions concerning different reactor/fuel cycles are applicable only within the context of this subjectivity as applied within this methodology.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Nuclear Engineering, 2002.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Nuclear Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology