December 28, 2005

Iran sounds positive note on Russian atomic plan

Iran said on Wednesday it would 'seriously and enthusiastically' study a Russian proposal aimedat reducing international fears about its nuclear program, the ISNA students news agency reported.

The remarks by Javad Vaeedi, deputy head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, were the most positive yet by a senior Tehran official about Moscow's offer to form a joint venture with Iran to enrich uranium in Russia. The Russian proposal is backed by the United States and theEuropean Union. [via IYahoo! News]
December 24, 2005

Moscow Again Offers to Reprocess Iranian Nuclear Fuel in Russia

Russia says it again has presented to Iran a proposal for reprocessing uranium in Russia from Iran's nuclear plants.

The Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said its embassy in Tehran Saturday presented Iranian authorities with a note saying that its offer for setting up a joint Russian-Iranian uranium enrichment facility remains valid.

Iran has turned down previous Russian suggestions, insisting it has the right to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel domestically despite international efforts to curb its nuclear program. [via VOA News]

U.S. has been secretly testing for radiation

A classified radiation monitoring program, conducted without warrants, has targeted private U.S. property in an effort to prevent an al-Qaida attack, federal law enforcement officials confirmed Friday.

While declining to provide details, including the number of cities and sites monitored, the officials said the air monitoring began after the Sept. 11 attacks and was conducted from publicly accessible areas, which they said made warrants and court orders unnecessary. U.S. News and World Report first reported the program on Friday. The magazine said the monitoring was conducted at more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C. area - including Maryland and Virginia suburbs - and at least five other cities when threat levels had risen: Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York and Seattle. [via and U.S. News and World Report]
December 23, 2005

Workers exposed to plutonium at Los Alamos

Five workers at New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory are being monitored after an accident resulted in plutonium being found inside their noses.

Details of the accident inside building TA-55 Monday are sketchy, but lab official Kevin Roark verified automated sensors picked up the plutonium release, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday. [via]
December 22, 2005

Book Review: The Worlds of Herman Kahn

Book CoverHerman Kahn is an enigma in the world of nuclear strategy. His sensational ideas, embodied in his On Thermonuclear War (1960), dared to explore the concept of not only fighting a nuclear war but surviving one. Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi delves into the remarkable and terrifying world of Herman Kahn, offering a unique portrait of the analyst who gleefully articulated a vision of a survivable post-nuclear war world. The Worlds of Herman Kahn, as the title implies, is not a biography of Kahn, but rather a description of the world he inhabited, and how the media, Kahn, the U.S. government and various aspects of American culture in the 1950s and 60s, came together on the subject of nuclear war. One of the best examples is the fact that he was the model for Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.

Ms. Ghamari-Tabrizi provides a fascinating look at a very complex man. Kahn was born in Bayonne, New Jersey, in 1922, grew up in the Bronx, NY and, after his parents divorced, in Los Angeles. He went to U.C.L.A. and majored in physics, then entered a Ph.D. program at Cal Tech. He failed to graduate-family financial problems interfered-and finally went to work at RAND Corporation (an U.S. Air Force funded think tank). While there he became involved in the development of the hydrogen bomb and eventually its strategic use. Kahn left RAND and founded his own think tank, the Hudson Institute. There he continued thinking about the unthinkable, as well as exploring new topics such as the issue of Vietnam and futurology. Kahn died of a massive stroke in 1983.

The book carefully avoids passing judgment on his ideas. Instead, Ghamari-Tabrizi paints us a picture of the man behind these ideas and the times in which he lived. This book is an excellent examination of a world of "unknown unknowns" that still exists around us today.

Available at

December 21, 2005

Oak Ridge Uranium Facilities to Be Destroyed

Contractors have received U.S. Energy Department authorization to accelerate the dismantlement of former uranium enrichment operations at the Oak Ridge Laboratory in Tennessee, the Associated Press reported yesterday.

Workers from Bechtel Jacobs Co. have been doing preliminary work on the K-25 and K-27 enrichment facilities. Now they can begin removing uranium deposits, injecting stabilization foam into pipes, dismantling radioactive equipment, and destroying the structures.

Equipment is expected to be sent to an on-site nuclear landfill. Most of the K-25 site will be destroyed, although the northern section will be preserved, AP reported. [via NTI]

Los Alamos National Security LLC Selected to Manage Los Alamos National Laboratory

Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman announced today that Los Alamos National Security LLC has been selected to be the management and operations contractor for Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Los Alamos National Security LLC is a limited liability corporation made up of Bechtel National, Inc., the University of California, BWX Technologies, Inc., and the Washington Group International, Inc. [via DOE]
December 20, 2005

Well Said...

"To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions." - U.S. District Judge John E. Jones

from today's ruling about ID.

Frozen in Time: A Cold War Relic Gives up its Secrets

Lying far above the Arctic Circle, the Russian archipelago of Novaya Zemlya is one of the most remote places on Earth, which is precisely why these mountainous, wind-swept islands were used as the Soviet Union’s main nuclear weapons test site from 1955 to 1990.

Recently the comprehensive study ever made of the extent of Soviet nuclear testing at Novaya Zemlya was in a recent issue of the journal Science and Global Security. [via Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory News]

North Korea says to build light-water nuclear reactors

North Korea plans to build its own light-water atomic reactors and develop two other reactors that can produce large amounts of fissile material to boost its nuclear capabilities, official media said on Tuesday.

The comment from the North's official KCNA news agency comes amid a snag in six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs. It could further complicate an already difficult diplomatic process, diplomatic analysts said. [via Reuters AlertNet]

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