Date: November 8, 2001
Creator: Rowberg, Richard E
Description: Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen used to enhance the explosive yield of every thermonuclear weapon. Tritium has a radioactive decay rate of 5.5% per year and has not been produced in this country for weapons purposes since 1988. To compensate for decay losses, tritium levels in the existing stockpile are being maintained by recycling and reprocessing it from dismantled nuclear weapons. To maintain the nuclear weapons stockpile at the level called for in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) II (not yet in force), however, a new tritium source would be needed by the year 2011. If the START I stockpile levels remain the target, as is now the case, tritium production would be needed by 2005.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department