March 29, 2004

Belize Ratifies Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Belize submitted its ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the CTBT Organization Friday. To date, 171 countries have signed the document and 110 have ratified it, including 32 of the 44 nations whose ratifications are necessary for the treaty to enter into force. [via Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization]

Pakistan to bar U.N. experts from nuclear sites

Rejecting a request to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect his country's nuclear facilities, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States pledged Saturday to cooperate to a lesser extent with the agency's investigation of Iran's nuclear program. [via San Francisco Chronicle].

A Nuclear Nightmare in Pennsylvania - 25 years later

I meant to post this yesterday, but the weather was too nice here in San Diego, and the twins wanted to go swimming...

At 4:00 AM on March 28, 1979, a reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear power facility near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania suddenly overheated, releasing radioactive gases. During the ensuing tension-packed week, scientists scrambled to prevent the nightmare of a meltdown, officials rushed in to calm public fears, and thousands of residents fled to emergency shelters. Equipment failure, human error, and bad luck would conspire to create America's worst nuclear accident. from Meltdown at Three Mile Island

Some excellent site on the accident can be found at:
Meltdown at Three Mile Island
March 23, 2004

Uranium Recovered in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Two cases of uranium were recovered earlier this month in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, atomic energy officials in the African nation said. The cases contained less than 100 kilograms of uranium 235 and 238 and the material was not sufficient to be used to produce a nuclear weapon, said atomic energy expert Fortunat Lumu Badimayimatu, adding that the material may have been intended for use in oil industry. He also said that the material is "very much sought after" and could have been sold for as much as $500,000. [via CNN]
March 22, 2004

Moscow dismisses allegations that terrorists bought nuclear weapons in Russia

A spokesman for the Russian nuclear energy ministry, which is being transformed into the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, has flatly dismissed a possibility that terrorists could buy nuclear weapons in Russia. [via Russia Journal]
March 21, 2004

Claims made about al-Qaeda, 'smart briefcase bombs'

Osama bin Laden's terror network claims to have bought ready-made nuclear weapons on a Central Asian black market, the biographer of Al Qaeda's No.2 leader was quoted telling an Australian television station.

In an interview scheduled to be televised Monday, Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir said Ayman al-Zawahri claimed "smart briefcase bombs" are available on the black market. [via USA Today]
March 20, 2004

Review: Meltdown: A Race Against Nuclear Disaster at Three Mile Island: A Reporter's Story

Meltdown: A Race Against Nuclear Disaster at Three Mile Island: A Reporter's Story

Award-winning reporter, Wilborn Hampton offers a compelling account of his experiences covering the near meltdown at Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant in 1997. He begins the story by recounting the bombing of Hiroshima and then transitions to the promise of atomic energy. This sets the stage for the events that began that fateful morning of March 28, 1979. At 4 a.m., alarms began shrieking in the control room of TMI. Within minutes, technical failures, compounded by human error, began to trigger the worst nuclear power accident in the United States.

Hampton was assigned to cover the unfolding crisis. He provides an insight to the workings of a reporter on the scene (in an era before the internet and 24 hour news channels). The ensuing days are captured with a reporter's objectivity, while still offering hindsight to the chaos, uncertainty and misinformation that surrounded the events. Although I was only in the 5th grade, my family was temporarily living in Dayton, Ohio during the crisis, and I can recall the tension in the adults. Since we were from California, Ohio was a little too close to Pennsylvania.

Although the reactor is brought under control and the crisis averted, Hampton concludes with book with a chapter on the greater tragedy at Chernobyl. The book is designed for a younger audience, but still serves as a nice primer to the events of twenty-five years ago.
March 19, 2004

India tests medium-range missile

India on Friday tested a new version of its nuclear-capable Prithvi missile, which has an enhanced range that could easily reach the capital of Pakistan, Press Trust of India reported. [via CNN]

IAEA Chief Says Board Losing Patience With Iran

Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors are becoming impatient with Iran after a series of discoveries cast doubt on the country's claims that it is coming clean about its long-hidden nuclear programs, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said.

ElBaradei stressed progress made in Iran by the agency, and refused to speculate about what actions the board could take at its June meeting if Iran is again found to have failed to reveal key aspects of its nuclear activity. On Saturday, the board adopted a resolution that was critical of Iran's lack of candor but deferred further action until June. [via MSNBC]

March 15, 2004

Libyan nuclear weapons material displayed in U.S.

The Energy Department took a planeload of reporters from Washington to the federal nuclear weapons complex here Monday to view a display of 48 crates and boxes containing nuclear weapons equipment seized when Libya gave up its nuclear weapons program. [via MSNBC

Iran to re-admit nuclear inspection team

Nuclear inspectors will return to Iran late this month after being temporarily barred by the Tehran government, the IAEA said Monday. Tehran over the weekend prohibited inspectors hours after the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation governing board adopted a resolution deploring recent discoveries of uranium enrichment equipment and other suspicious activities that Iran had failed to reveal.[via MSNBC]
March 11, 2004
Traces of highly enriched uranium found in Iran

UN nuclear inspectors have found traces of uranium in Iran enriched to over 80 percent, which would make it weapons-grade, but think this is from contamination of imported equipment rather than refined in Iran. Original story at New York Times (registration required) [via CBS News]
March 10, 2004

Libya signs snap checks agreement

Libya has agreed to allow the IAEA to perform unannounced inspections of atomic facilities in the north African country. [via Yahoo!]
March 09, 2004

Libya Returns Nuclear Fuel to Russia

Enriched nuclear fuel the former Soviet Union provided to Libya two decades ago was returned to Russia on Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said. 88 nuclear fuel assemblies - bundles of rods that contain fuel used for reactors - were returned from the Tajura research center. The Tajura facility includes a 10-megawatt reactor built in 1980 with equipment from the Soviet Union. [via Yahoo!]

Pakistan tests nuclear capable missile

Pakistan test-fired an intermediate range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead deep into India. The test was the first of the locally-built Shaheen II or Hatf-VI missile, which can carry warheads up to 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers). [via Yahoo!]
March 08, 2004

Blog Update

Some might notice a slight change to the look of this blog. This is the first public test of the new format. There should not be a major difference in how it appears. If there is, tell us! This new design is based on CSS/XHTML standards and should give the site a solid foundation to expand on. There will be a preview of this expansion shortly. (Think 100+ new pages - with tons of photos....)

Thanks for reading and hope you continue to find the site useful.

the team

Iran's Nuclear Program

"I am seriously concerned that Iran's October declaration did not include any reference to its possession of P2 centrifuge designs and related (research and development), which in my view was a setback to Iran's stated policy of transparency," IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei told the IAEA board of governors. [via Yahoo!]
March 04, 2004

North Korea Won't Acknowledge Uranium Program

U.S. officials said Wednesday the chief problem in talks with North Korea is the communist country's refusal to acknowledge the existence of a secret nuclear weapons program based on uranium. North Korea has acknowledged that it has a plutonium-based weapons program. [via Yahoo]
March 03, 2004

Is Pakistan's nuclear program dying?

BBC's Paul Anderson has an analysis of Pakistan's nuclear program in light of Pakistan's leading nuclear scientist, AQ Khan, confessing to nuclear proliferation. [via BBC]
March 01, 2004

Bikini Atoll bomb test remembered

On March 1, 1954, a deliverable hydrogen bomb using solid lithium deuteride was tested by the United States on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. By missing an important fusion reaction, the scientists had grossly underestimated the size of the explosion. The predicted yield was 5 megatons, but, in fact, "BRAVO" yielded 14.8 megatons - making it largest U.S. nuclear test ever exploded.

The blast gouged a crater more than 1/2 mile wide and several hundred feet deep and ejected several million tons of radioactive debris into the air. Within seconds the fireball was nearly three miles in diameter.

An hour-and-a-half later a gritty, snow-like substance began raining down on a Japanese fishing vessel, the Lucky Dragon, that was about 80 miles east of Bikini. Marshall Islanders were also exposed to the fallout. They were not evacuated for several days, by which time many of them had severe burns and were beginning to lose their hair.
Map of the Fallout
BBC story

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