March 30, 2005

Poll: Americans worry about nuclear weapons

Most Americans think nuclear weapons are so dangerous that no country should have them, and a majority believe it’s likely that terrorists or a nation will use them within five years.That is why we at continue our efforts to education people about this critical issue. [via MSNBC]

Reporters Visit Underground Iran Nuclear Plant

Iran's President Mohammad Khatami took a group of journalists deep underground on Wednesday into the heart of a key nuclear plant which Washington wants dismantled and whose existence was kept secret until 2002.

About 30 local and foreign journalists visited Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 250 km (150 miles) south of Tehran, the centerpiece of a disputed atomic fuel drive which Tehran suspended under international pressure in late 2003.

The unprecedented visit was an unusual gesture of openness by the Islamic state. Reporters, allowed to photograph and film the unimposing complex, were later shown parts of another atomic facility in the central city of Isfahan. [via Yahoo! News]
March 29, 2005

Nuclear Material Protection Pact to Be Strengthened

An international treaty on the protection of nuclear materials will be strengthened this year to require additional safeguards against diversion of substances by terrorists, the Kyodo news agency reported.

The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials now only requires its 110 signatories to take measures to protect nuclear materials such as plutonium during international shipments. The revised policy would require safeguards for substances that are being used, stockpiled or shipped within a nation's borders, sources told Kyodo. [via NTI: Global Security Newswire]
March 25, 2005

Review: Bobby and the A-Bomb Factory : Growing up on the Banks of the Columbia

Book CoverFor those looking for a scholarly analysis of family life of those who worked at one of the nuclear weapon facilities, this book is not that. Instead, we are given a light and enjoyable tale of a little boy who’s father is a Ph. D. physicist at Hanford nuclear facility. Bob Myers presents Bobby and the A-Bomb Factory : Growing up on the Banks of the Columbia. This book is a personal account of how Myers' father attempted to balance his duties as father, husband, scientist and church member. The book also interconnects his accounts with the surrounding Indian culture and the simple point of view of a child. Overall the book was a light and enjoyable read.

The book is also available as a free download in PDF format from

Los Alamos National Laboratory History Homepage Redesigned

Just noticed that Los Alamos National Laboratory has redesigned their History section. There is a lot of new content that has been added, so take a moment a look around. For researchers they have posted PDF versions of a variety of primary source documents (like Luis Alvarez and Oppenheimer's letter to Mjr. Furman about the status of the German Atomic Bomb). We will be looking through this collection to see what we might add to our documents.

My personal favorite is the Staff Badge Photo collection. You can now view the id photos of
Oppenheimer, Fermi, and others.

The section does go beyond the Manhattan Project and Los Alamos' role in the development of the H-Bomb and it's current role in stewardship.

View the site at Los Alamos National Laboratory | History Homepage
March 14, 2005

IAEA Gains Access to Key Player in Khan Network

Malaysia has allowed International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to interview a key member of the international nuclear network formerly headed by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Financial Times reported Saturday. [Global Security Newswire]
March 11, 2005

Typing error causes nuclear scare

The Sudanese government had a nasty shock this week, when it read on a US Congress website that the Americans had conducted nuclear tests in the country.

The report should have said Sedan. SEDAN was part of the Plowshare Program at the Nevada Test Site. It was fired on July 6, 1962. The 104 kiloton explosive, buried under 635 feet of desert alluvium, displaced 12 million tons of earth and formed a crater 320 feet deep and 1,280 feet in diameter.[via BBC NEWS]

US backs EU's incentives to Iran

The US says it will join the EU in offering economic incentives to Iran to abandon its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons. [via BBC NEWS]
March 10, 2005

Pakistan: Khan Gave Iran Machines Useable for A-Bomb

Pakistan acknowledged on Thursday for the first time that a disgraced Pakistani scientist at the center of a nuclear black market gave Iran centrifuges which can be used to make atomic weapons.

Centrifuges purify uranium for use as fuel in atomic power plants or bombs. Washington believes Iran's centrifuge program, which it concealed from U.N. inspectors for nearly two decades, is at the heart of clandestine atom bomb plans.

Tehran says its enrichment program will produce only low-grade enriched fuel for power plants, not highly enriched uranium for weapons.

"(Abdul Qadeer Khan) has given centrifuges to Iran, but the government was in no way involved in this," Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told Reuters.

Pakistan has admitted in the past that Khan, dubbed the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, smuggled nuclear secrets to North Korea Iran and Libya. But this is the first time Islamabad admitted that Khan supplied Iran with centrifuges. [via Yahoo! News]
March 07, 2005

Hans Bethe Dead at 98

Hans Bethe PhotoHans Bethe, the last of the major particpants of the Manhattan Project died on Sunday at his home, Cornell University announced Monday. His biography can be read at Dr. Bethe also won a Nobel Prize in 1967 for figuring out how the sun and other stars generate energy. In addition to his significant scientific achievements, Bethe became a spokesman for a variety of nuclear and arms control issues.

He is survived by his wife, Rose, a son and a daughter.

[via MSNBC and New York Times]

Update: The BBC has an audio interview with Hans Bethe. (Real Player)

March 02, 2005

Book Review: Edward Teller: The Real Dr. Strangelove

Book Cover Peter Goodchild - an award-winning television producer for the BBC and the author of a 1985 biography of Robert Oppenheimer - provides a detailed, informative biography of Edward Teller. Teller is best known as the "father of the hydrogen bomb," a witness against J. Robert Oppenheimer in the latter's security hearing, and, finally, an ardent promoter of the Cold War arms race. This book provides a fascinating, well-researched look into the life of one of the most politically powerful scientists of the 20th century.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Teller grew up in a relatively privileged Jewish professional family. The impact of World War I, a postwar Communist revolution, and a tide of post-Communist anti-Semitism all had great impacts on the formation of Teller's psyche. Teller himself recalled that "the consistency of numbers" was "the first memory I have of feeling secure."

Goodchild's well crafted biography draws on interviews with more than fifty of Teller's colleagues and friends and provides a deep richness to this complex character. Throughout his life, Teller was at the center of controversy. For example, one Nobel Prize winning physicist called Edward Teller, "A great man of vast imagination [one of the] most thoughtful statesmen of science". Another called him, "A danger to all that is important. It would have been a better world without [him]." The book carefully explores Teller's role in the Manhattan Project, and his relentless quest to develop the "Super". He also carefully documents one of the pivotal points in Teller's career, Oppenheimer's 1954 security hearing before the Atomic Energy Commission.

Goodchild also explores Teller's obsession with the Soviet threat, which led him to oppose nuclear arms control treaties, the continued development of nuclear weapons, and winning the support of the Reagan administration for "Star Wars", his final political triumph.

Edward Teller's legacy is an enduring one, and Mr. Goodchild has produced a worthy, detailed, and balanced biography of "The Real: Dr. Strangelove."

U.S., Iran Face Off Over Nuclear Issues

Explaining Tehran's decision to bar the United Nations from some sensitive sites, a senior Iranian envoy told a 35-nation meeting Wednesday that his country fears leaked information the inspectors gather could help those planning a possible military strike. Iran's refusal to grant IAEA inspectors renewed access to the Parchin military site after an initial severely restricted visit last month was one of the issues raised by the agency's review.

At the same meeting - of the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency - the United States, which has not ruled out such an attack, urged U.N. Security Council action against Tehran, saying it is "cynically" pursuing nuclear arms. [via CBS News ]

IAEA Director General Briefs Press on Iran, Egypt

IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei today briefed the press on the Agency's nuclear safeguards activities in Iran and Egypt, before the IAEA Board of Governor's meeting opened in Vienna. [ via]

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