May 26, 2004

Nuclear no-fly zones breached

New Scientist has an article on no-fly zones around nuclear plants are regularly breached by both military and civilian aircraft. [via New Scientist].

U.S., Russia to lock up nuclear fuel

The United States and Russia will sign an agreement that should finally secure some of the world's most dangerous and poorly guarded nuclear fuel. The agreement will be formally known as the Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return.

Research-reactor fuel is especially attractive to terrorists because it can be used to make simple nuclear weapons - about 50 pounds of enriched uranium for one device. Smaller amounts could be used in "dirty bombs" - conventional bombs containing nuclear material that would spread radiation when they explode. [via Nuclear Threat Initiative]
May 25, 2004
May 24, 2004

Nuclear Experiment Planned in Nevada

Government scientists plan to conduct an underground nuclear experiment Tuesday at the Nevada Test Site, the National Nuclear Security Administration said. The subcritical experiment, dubbed "Armando," will involve detonating high explosives around plutonium in a steel sphere while X-rays, radar and lasers chart the behavior of the radioactive element in a non-nuclear explosion.

Scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are conducting the test in a tunnel 963 feet below ground at the Nevada Test Site, about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

"Armando" is the 21st subcritical experiment at the test site, and the third in a series. Its predecessors, "Mario" and "Rocco," were conducted in August and September 2002. [via LA Times (Registeration Required)]

North Korea Linked To Libya Uranium

Evidence gathered by the U.N. atomic agency suggests North Korea was the source of nearly two tons of uranium to Libya as part of attempts by Moammar Gadhaffi to build nuclear warheads, diplomats said Sunday.

The evidence also focuses on the North's secret weapons program using uranium technology. North Korea, initially thought to have only a plutonium-based program, acknowledged developing a parallel program based on uranium enrichment after U.S. disclosures of its existence two years ago, but details remain sketchy. [via CBS News

Iran submits declaration under Additional Protocol

The Islamic Republic of Iran has on May 21 delivered to the IAEA the initial declaration under the Additional Protocol to its NPT safeguards agreement. This declaration should provide broader information about Iran's nuclear and nuclear-related activities and will facilitate the IAEA's assessment of the correctness and completeness of the information already provided by Iran on its past and present nuclear activities. [via IAEA]
May 20, 2004

J. Robert Oppenheimer Centennial - Exhibit

The Office for History of Science and Technology at University of California, Berkeley has produced as wonderful online exhibit on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. The web address is
May 19, 2004

US rejects North Korean request for nuclear reactor

The United States rejected a request by North Korea for a light-water nuclear reactor as part of a deal to end the nuclear crisis in the Korean peninsula, the US State Department said. [via
and Washington Times]
May 18, 2004

NRC Miscalculated Nuclear Plant Risk

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission miscalculated the risk to the public of letting an Ohio nuclear power plant continue to run in 2001 with suspected reactor leaks, congressional auditors said Tuesday. [via CBS News]

IAEA's Iranian Nuclear Probe Slowed

The International Atomic Energy Agency will be unable to complete its investigation into Iran's nuclear program by the agency's mid-June target deadline due to Iranian delays in granting access to international inspectors and in fully disclosing its nuclear activities". [via NTI: Global Security Newswire]
May 17, 2004

Iran Nuclear Report Due Soon

Iran is due to hand over a detailed report in the coming days aimed at answering the UN watchdog's outstanding concerns about its suspect nuclear program. [via Yahoo!]
May 12, 2004

North Korea nuclear talks begin

Officials from six countries have begun low-level discussions in Beijing, aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The talks bring together both Koreas, the US, China, Russia and Japan. [via Yahoo!]

Review: Zones of Exclusion: Pripyat and Chernobyl

Book CoverThe catastrophe at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on April 26, 1984, forced the evacuation of more than 116,000 people. Now declared unfit for human habitation, the Zones of Exclusion includes the towns of Pripyat (established in the 1970s to house workers) and Chernobyl. In May 2001, photographer Robert Polidori was granted access to document what was left behind in this dead zone.

This extraordinary book - shot in only 3 days - presents an unexpected look at what remains of Chernobyl and the town of Pripyat. His camera captures the scope of the disaster, from the burned-out control room of Reactor 4, where technicians staged the experiment that caused the disaster, to the unfinished apartment complexes.

Some of the more haunting images are of the ransacked schools and abandoned nurseries. The photographs expertly frame the sense of abandonment. From an auto graveyard, filled with trucks and tanks used in the cleanup efforts, some covered in lead shrouds, to the houseboats and barges lying rusty in the contaminated waters of the Pripyat River.

Polidori captures the faded colors and desolate atmosphere of these two towns. Through the 190 color photos, one gains a sense of the tragedy. As Polidori writes: "Does any generation have the right to risk the safety of so many future generations?... I felt personally compelled to confront and witness this ongoing tragedy that no ritual can heal." After viewing this book, I find myself asking the same questions.

May 11, 2004

Y-12 Anniversary Website

In preparing our new history section (did that slip out?), I was doing some research and discovered this site for the 60th anniversary of the Y-12 plant at Oak Ridge. I know it was last year, but thought I would mention it anyway. It does has a nice photo gallery, although no images of the Beta 3 racetrack.
May 07, 2004

Long-Missing H-Bomb

Beneath the ocean floor off Savannah, an aluminum cylinder lies entombed in silt. It's like an 11-foot-long bullet with a snub nose and four stubby fins. Written on it, its name: "No. 47782." Enclosed in its metal skin: 400 pounds of conventional explosives and a quantity of bomb-grade uranium.

No. 47782 is an H-bomb. No. 47782 has rested off Savannah since Feb. 5, 1958. CBS News has an article on the search for it. For more information visit,
May 05, 2004

Pakistan Cabinet Approves Tighter Nuclear Controls

Pakistan approved draft legislation to tighten controls on exporting nuclear weapons technology and missile delivery systems after a U.N. resolution last week aimed at curbing illegal proliferation. [via Yahoo!]
May 04, 2004

Black Dawn Nuclear Terrorism Exercise Shows Europe is Vulnerable

More than 50 officials and experts from 15 countries took part in the private seminar, organized by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), among them the European Union's foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana and the former United Nations chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Rolf Ekeus.

They acted out a doomsday scenario entitled "Black Dawn", which supposed that al-Qaeda had secured some enriched uranium from a civil nuclear research centre in Europe and had managed to build a home-made nuclear bomb.

In the scenario, al-Qaeda operatives explode their bomb at NATO headquarters, killing 40,000 people immediately and injuring another 300,000. [via NTI: Nuclear Threat Initiative]
May 03, 2004

China to build second nuclear plant for Pakistan

Pakistan and China will sign an agreement tomorrow to build a second nuclear power plant in Pakistan for civilian use, officials said. The 300-megawatt nuclear power plant will be built at Chashma, some 170 miles (270 km) south of Islamabad. [via]

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