Tritium, an isotope of hydrogen, is an essential component in all U.S. nuclear weapons and bombs. It is radioactive with a decay half-life of 12 years and, thus, must be replenished in U.S. warheads every few years. Absent timely replenishment, our warheads become duds. The United States, however, will be unable to produce enough tritium in coming years to support the nuclear stockpile. How did this dire prospect come about? Today, the U.S. produces tritium by irradiating special rods in a single light water reactor run by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). This reactor burns low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel and also produces electricity to power homes in the Southeast. To meet demand, a second TVA reactor will begin producing tritium early next decade.
Defense News 6th March 2017 read more »