why won’t there be a nuclear explosion if a nuclear weapon is shot down?

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why won’t there be a nuclear explosion if a nuclear weapon is shot down?

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For the nuclear explosion to occur, the fissile material (stuff that undergoes the nuclear reaction) must be forced together to explode. This can be a very precise reaction. If you shoot down a nuclear weapon, this material will not combine to reach critical mass, therefore no nuclear blast.

The spicy rocks have to come together just right for the huge kaboom. That’s not an easy thing; it takes computer control & just the right application of push to bring them together perfectly.

If it’s just shot down, there could still be concerning amounts of radiation.

The kinds of nuclear reactions used in bombs are very very difficult to bring about, and thus require a very precisely-tuned sequence of reactions, all to build up the necessary pressure and temperature needed to actually initiate a nuclear reaction. If anything fails to go off correctly, the reaction won’t progress into a nuclear explosion.

A nuclear weapon is extremely difficult to detonate. The technology behind how to reliably initiate the cascade reaction that sets off a nuclear explosion is one of the biggest reasons why nuclear weapons are so hard to make.

Destroying a nuclear weapon before it can be triggered would make that complicated and extremely specific process impossible.

Nuclear explosions are really hard to cause. That’s why it took a bunch of scientists working together for years to make a nuclear bomb, and several more years for them to refine this bomb into anything near its full potential.

It requires that everything be in the exact right place at the right time. Getting hit by a large bullet or missile would disrupt that coordination.

A nuclear bomb works by compressing a sphere. This is done with high precision triggering of many high explosive blocks. If all the blocks are triggered at the same time, the compression waves from their detonation will combine to compress the sphere of plutonium without deforming it. It’s like squeezing an egg until the shell breaks without rupturing the yolk inside. If you fire a bulled into one of the explosive blocks, it might detonate, but the compression wave would spread out from that point, like pushing your finger into the egg while it sits on a plate. That’s going to rupture the yolk every time.

A modern nuclear weapon is a precise piece of machinery. It is not inherently volatile — it needs just the right conditions to explode. So if you break the machinery, it won’t explode. Shooting it down would break the machinery.

None of the answers are ELI5 enough for me.

ELI5

You’re walking around with a bunch of eggs on a plate. If you walk too fast, or stop too quickly, OOPS, the eggs fall, and they’re so FRAGILE that they break.

Nuclear weapons are **not fragile** like that. You can’t just drop one and it explodes. You can’t even hammer one with a hammer to make it explode. In fact, you can’t even make it explode if you shot it with a shotgun.

In fact, in order to make one go off, you have to do this really complex, really intricate procedure. It’s not something you can accidentally do, and even if you try really hard, you can’t make it happen without a lot of engineering.

**They’re just not fragile like that.**

uranium and plutonium are not chemically volatile. the explosive force is not a chemical reaction, the way other explosives are, so there is no danger of an explosion if the elements are damaged or prematurely mixed.

a sucessfull nuclear detonation is a very precise process that has a set and strict list of steps.

if it was as simple as ” blow up nuclear material”(this is technically called a dirty bomb and its goal is to irradiate the area) basically anyone with access ot natural deposits would have nukes.