February 28, 2005

Iran, Russia sign nuclear fuel agreement

Iran and Russia ignored U.S. objections and signed a nuclear fuel agreement Sunday that is key to bringing Tehran’s first reactor online by mid-2006.

Russia will provide nuclear fuel to Iran, then take back the spent fuel, a step meant as a safeguard to ensure it cannot be diverted into a weapons program. Iran has also agreed to allow the IAEA to monitor Bushehr and the fuel deliveries. [via MSNBC and Russian Information Agency Novosti]
February 24, 2005

U.S.-Russia pact targets nuclear terrorism

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to announce a package of measures today to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Under the planned agreement, U.S. and Russian officials would accelerate long-delayed security upgrades at Russia's many poorly protected nuclear facilities, jointly develop emergency responses to a nuclear or radiological terrorist attack, and establish a program to replace highly enriched uranium in research reactors around the world to prevent it from being used for weapons, the U.S. officials said. [MSNBC]
February 23, 2005

Radiation Emergencies | Dirty Bombs

So you just finished watching PBS's airing of HBO's Dirty War, and wondering what to do if such an event occurs. Here are some resources that might be helpful:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Radiation Emergencies | Dirty Bombs

Ready.gov | Radiation Threat

These instructions are intended for uninjured or mildly injured persons in the vicinity of a so-called dirty bomb, a conventional weapon which also disperses relatively common radioactive materials.

Do not panic. A dirty bomb is thousands of times less dangerous than a nuclear weapon similar to the type used in Japan at the end of World War II. The fact that you have survived the initial explosion and you are not badly injured probably means you are going to be okay.

Take a shower. After the initial shock is over and you have moved away from the blast scene, remove your clothes and take a shower. Place discarded clothing in a garbage bag. Chances are the on-scene responders will provide a shower facility.

Do not retrieve vehicles or personal effects that are near the blast scene, especially if they are coated with visible dust from the blast.

Do not eat or drink anything that was near the scene, especially items which are not packaged. (Fresh fruits, water from open containers, etc.)

Do not waste time looking for iodine pills. These are probably not useful for the type of radioactive material you have potentially been exposed to.

Do not flood the emergency room or your doctor's office with nonemergency calls or visits. The possibility that you may have been exposed to some radioactive material is not an emergency in light of the overall situation. After the situation calms down a bit, you will probably want to discuss with a doctor the risks to your health caused by any radioactive material exposure. There is a good chance you will be afforded the opportunity to participate in long-term health monitoring.

Keep in touch with reliable media sources for further information.
Source:Office of Radiation Protection, Washington State Department of Health

No Missile Defense for Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin was expected to announce later in the week that Canada will not sign on to the U.S. ballistic missile plan, after his newly appointed ambassador to Washington triggered a row by suggesting Ottawa had already joined the contentious program.

Most Canadians are opposed to the missile defense shield, which is in the midst of testing interceptors capable of taking out incoming missiles. Some believe the umbrella, when fully implemented, could lead to the weaponization of space and an international arms race. [via Yahoo! News]
February 21, 2005

HBO's Dirty War on PBS, Wednesday, February 23

DIRTY WAR, tells the fictional story of a radiological "dirty bomb" attack on central London. DIRTY WAR is scheduled for Wednesday, February, 23 on PBS. Directed by Dan Percival who wrote the screenplay with Lizzie Mickery, this HBO Films/BBC Films production is based on extensive research by the BBC factual department and asks the questions: Are our emergency services fully prepared for a nuclear attack? How much does the public have a right to know?

The PBS presentation of DIRTY WAR in February will be followed by a half-hour panel discussion with experts in homeland security, emergency preparedness, nuclear weapons and terrorism. [more information PBS Previews]

North Korea to return to talks, conditionally..

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told a visiting Chinese envoy that his government will return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks if the United States shows "sincerity," the communist state’s official news agency said Tuesday. [ via MSNBC]
February 18, 2005

Book Review: Fermi Remembered

Book CoverNobel laureate and scientific luminary Enrico Fermi was a pioneering physicist, best known for his involvement with the Manhattan Project and his work to create the first self-sustained nuclear reaction. Fermi Remembered was created out of a symposium held at the University of Chicago in 2001 to honor the centennial of his birth. This book combines essays and newly written reminiscences alongside private materials from Fermi's personnel files. Contributors of personal reminiscences to Fermi Remembered include seven Nobel laureates in physics.

The book begins with a brief biographical introduction by Fermi's longtime colleague and biographer, Emilio Segré. The middle portion of the book consists of reproductions of some of Fermi's unpublished notes and correspondence. The last third of the book consists of brief reminiscences by Fermi's former colleagues and students at the University of Chicago.

This work is an enjoyable glimpse into life and work of one of the most famous members of the Los Alamos generation. As one reads this work, you are constantly reminded of the level of greatness that Fermi possessed. During his tenure as professor of physics at the Institute for Nuclear Studies, Fermi attracted an extraordinary scientific faculty and many talented students--ten Nobel Prizes were awarded to faculty or students under his guidance.

One is struck by the fact that unlike nearly all of his colleagues, he was a celebrated experimentalist as well as a theorist, and he continued to move easily between the two types of work right through his last years at Chicago. As a testament to his legacy is the fact that he produced nearly 300 scientific articles during his brief but brilliant career, before losing a battle with stomach cancer.

Emilio Segré summed up Fermi's scientific life in the following words: "He gave to science all he had and with him disappeared the last universal physicist in the tradition of the great men of the 19th century, when it was still possible for a single person to reach the highest summits, both in theory and experiment, and to dominate all fields of physics." This book serves to capture some of the enduring legacy of one the great minds of science.

Available at amazon.com
February 17, 2005

Thanks ever so much, Pakistan...

Pakistan continues to resist letting foreign interrogators question A. Q. Khan, the man behind the nuclear black market that sold nuclear materials and know-how, although the CIA is still trying to gain access to him. [ via Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists]

British nuclear site cannot account for 30 kilos of plutonium

A civilian nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in northwest England cannot account for enough plutonium to produce seven or eight nuclear bombs, but regulators said it was due to bookkeeping errors and no material had left the facility. [
Yahoo! News
February 16, 2005

Enough Material Missing From Russia to Build a Nuclear Device

In his first public appearance as director of the CIA, Porter Goss gave a chilling assessment of the dangers posed by nuclear material that is missing from nuclear storage sites in Russia.

Goss and FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the international threats against the United States.

Responding to a question from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., about materials missing from Russian nuclear facilities, Goss said: "There is sufficient material unaccounted for, so that it would be possible for those with know-how to construct a nuclear weapon."

Goss said he could not assure the American people that the missing nuclear material had not found its way into terrorists' hands.

A former top official at the Department of Energy told ABC News that Goss's statement understated the threat. There could be enough missing material in the Russian inventory to make hundreds or thousands of nuclear weapons, but no one - neither the Russians nor Western intelligence agencies - knows for sure, the former official said.

There is no way to determine the quantity of missing material in Russia, the source said, because neither the Russian government nor the Soviets before them ever adopted a "mass balance" inventory system that tracks how much nuclear material is produced and where it ends up being used. The U.S. government adopted a mass-balance inventory system in the 1960s, the source said. [ via ABC News]

IAEA Head Disputes Claims on Iran Arms

The head of the U.N. agency responsible for investigating Iran's nuclear program said Tuesday that there had been no discoveries in the last six months to substantiate claims that the Islamic state is secretly working toward building a nuclear bomb.

In a wide-ranging interview with four U.S. newspapers, Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency also described White House policies on Iran and North Korea as inconsistent. Without greater U.S. participation in diplomacy, ElBaradei said, confrontation could increase. [ via washingtonpost.com (registration required)]
February 14, 2005

Missile Shield Test Fails Again

A test of the national missile defense system failed Monday when an interceptor missile did not launch from its island base in the Pacific Ocean, the military said. It was the second failure in months for the experimental program.

In Monday's test, the interceptor missile was to target a mock ICBM fired from Kodiak Island, Alaska. The target missile launched at 1:22 a.m. ET Monday without any problems, but the interceptor did not launch.

The previous test, on Dec. 15, failed under almost identical circumstances. The target missile launched, but the interceptor did not. [via MSNBC]

North Korea Claims to have Nuclear Weapons

I know I am late in posting this, I was away on a quick vacation, but want to back post it for the record.

North Korea boasted publicly for the first time Thursday that it has nuclear weapons and said it will stay away from disarmament talks. "We ... have manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration's ever-more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the (North)," the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement in English carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Previously, U.S. negotiators said North Korean officials claimed in private talks that they had nuclear weapons and might test one. The North's U.N. envoy also said last year the country had "weaponized" plutonium from its pool of 8,000 nuclear spent fuel rods.

But Thursday's statement was the first claim directly from North Korea's state media that it has a nuclear weapon, confirming the widely held beliefs of international experts that the country already has one or two atomic bombs. North Korea is not known to have performed any nuclear tests and kicked out U.N. inspectors in 2002, so there is no way to verify its claims.

For more information on the Nuclear Crisis in North Korea, visit our Special Report at http://www.atomicarchive.com/Reports/Northkorea/index.shtml.
February 09, 2005

Italy to Help Russia Scrap Nuclear Sub, Russia to Add Two New Nuclear Subs

According to Alexander Gorbunov, Managing Director of the Nerpa Russian ship repair facility, Italy has pledged financial assistance to help Russia dismantle a multi-purpose nuclear submarine discarded from the Northern Fleet as part of the Global Partnership program. Negotiations for the dismantlement deal began last December in Rome and the project is expected to be launched in 2005 and completed in 2006.

The project will cost Italy an estimated five million Euros. Mr. Gorbunov stated, "This will be the first ever project for scraping a multi-purpose nuclear submarine to be financed by Italy's government."

According to Gorbunov, only one multifunctional submarine has been scraped at the Nerpa plant with foreign money thus far. The funds for dismantling that particular sub were provided by the government of Norway. Gorbunov said that Norway is planning to launch another such project this spring.

In related news, First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Belousov announced that the Russian Navy will add two new nuclear submarines to its fleet in 2005. The nuclear powered submarines are called "Yury Dolgoruky" and "Dmitry Donskoy." The submarines will eventually carry the new "Bulava" sea-based missile system on board, likely after the system has been tested in 2006. [Nuclear Age Peace Foundation]
February 08, 2005

Stronger nuclear weapons planned

US scientists have begun designing a new generation of nuclear weapons to replace the nation's increasingly fragile stockpile. The weapons are intended to be more durable and long-lasting in order to reduce the size of the arsenal and the costs of maintaining it, The New York Times reported today, quoting federal officials and private specialists. The program, which is expected to grow, consists of about 100 people with a $9 million budget. [via Boston.com]

Iran tells US nuclear sites cannot be destroyed

Iran warned the United States that its nuclear sites cannot be destroyed by air or missile strikes, as Britain entered the fray by declaring that Tehran is a state sponsor of terrorism.

Diplomats from Iran and Britain, France and Germany were to meet Tuesday in Geneva for a crucial round of talks in the EU-3's effort to secure guarantees Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons in exchange for diplomatic, security, trade and technology incentives.

The Europeans want Iran to totally dismantle its uranium enrichment programme to ensure that it cannot make weapons-grade material.

But Iran counters that it has the right, under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to work on the nuclear fuel cycle -- something critics see as Iran exploiting a dangerous loophole in the treaty.

Iran says it only wants to make fuel for nuclear reactors, enabling it to generate atomic energy and free up more of its huge oil and gas reserves for export.

For the time being it has suspended all uranium enrichment-related activities to fulfill its part of a deal clinched in November with the Europeans. [via
Yahoo! News
February 07, 2005

Book Review: Chernobyl Legacy

Book CoverThe explosion of reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine in April 26, 1986 released enough deadly radiation to be measurable around the entire northern hemisphere. The radioactive cloud destroyed lives, homes, and farmlands in the surrounding regions of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia. Chernobyl Legacy documents the extensive reach of this disaster on the people of the region, from those who fought to contain the disaster, to the small children who would never see their homes again.

Chernobyl Legacy presents searing images that bear witness to the present-day effects of the world's worst nuclear accident. Photojournalists Paul Fusco and Magdalena Caris remind us through their camera lens of the millions that are still affected by that fateful day. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan writes in the foreword: "indeed, the legacy of Chernobyl will be with us, and with our descendants, for generations to come."

Chernobyl Legacy puts human faces on one of the greatest technical tragedies of the 20th century and serves as a reminder to the potential consequences of nuclear power.

February 02, 2005

US Says New Evidence of North Korea Nuclear Exports

The United States has developed new evidence which bolsters earlier indications that North Korea is the source of nuclear material exported to Libya, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The new data also involves more proof that Pyongyang reprocessed all 8,000 spent fuel rods from a nuclear facility at Yongbyon, enough to fuel about a half dozen nuclear weapons, officials told Reuters.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that nine months ago, international inspectors came up with the first evidence that North Korea may have provided Libya with nearly two tons of uranium hexaflouride, the material that can be fed into nuclear centrifuges and enriched into bomb fuel. Libya surrendered its huge cask of the highly toxic material to the United States when it dismantled its nuclear program last year, it said.

Now, intelligence officials say, extensive testing conducted at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee over the last several months has concluded that the material did not originate in Pakistan or other suspect countries, and one official said that 'with a certainty of 90 percent or better, this stuff's from North Korea,' the article said." [via Yahoo! News]

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