[extropy-chat] nuclear non-proliferation as energy strategy ?

Robert Bradbury robert.bradbury at gmail.com
Tue Jan 17 15:19:19 UTC 2006

On 1/17/06, Brian Lee <brian_a_lee at hotmail.com> wrote:
> It is possible to have nuke plants without weapons refining capability. I
> don't think it's the nuclear power that US/EU is freakng out about. It's
> Iran having the ability to create weapans grade plutonium along with
> nuclear
> power.

Actually, I don't think plutonium is the main concern.  For that  you not
only need a nuclear reactor but a fuel reprocessing plant  (such as the
PUREX plant which used to operate at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in
Washington).  I believe the last information I read indicated that the
Iranian's didn't have an operational nuclear reactor and the Russians were
running behind on helping them finish it.  (Not that it made much sense to
do so without any fuel unless one were puchasing it from a nuclear capable
nation, most probably Russia or China).

Though plutonium can be used to make relatively small nuclear weapons, it is
difficult to work with.  It requires more highly enriched uranium (HEU) to
make a weapon but to produce that all you have to do is take the normal
enrichment process for reactor grade fuel (that is what the centrifuges are
for) and just run the cycle somewhat longer to get a higher enrichment level
(at least that is my understanding).  It would presumably require a very
intrusive monitoring process to guarantee that the Iranian's were not
siphoning off enriched uranium and turning it into HEU for weapons given
their history of hidden/underground nuclear facilities.

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