Friday, January 8, 2010

AECL seeks more enriched uranium (weapons-grade) for Chalk River's 52-year old NRU reactor from the Eagle Watch #25

AECL seeks more enriched uranium (weapons-grade) for Chalk River's 52-year old NRU reactor
from the Eagle Watch #25

Here's another shocking forward sent by Gordon Edwards. After a few informative bits of info on nuclear bomb making, there's an article from the Ottawa Citizen. The insanity of it all is really sickening. We have to ask ourselves, what are these lunatics trying to do? and why are we allowing it???



There are only two nuclear materials which can be used as a
(primary) nuclear explosive in an atomic bomb.

They are
(1) highly enriched uranium (HEU, which was used in the
Hiroshima bomb);
(2) plutonium (which was used in the Nagasaki bomb).

Of these two, the one that is by far the EASIEST to fabricate
into a bomb is HEU. In fact a Hiroshima-type bomb made from
highly enriched uranium is so simple and so sure-fire that it
doesn't have to be tested at all. The first time a uranium
bomb was exploded, was when it was dropped on the City of
Hiroshima. No testing was needed. There was no doubt of
the outcome....

The reason why the world is in a tizzy over Iran and its uranium
enrichment program is that this technology can be used to make
HEU and thus provide an avenue to the fabrication of atomic bombs.

For many years now, the US and other nations have been trying to
eliminate all traffic in HEU because of the severe proliferation risk
it poses (any criminal or terrorist organization acquiring enough
HEU -- about 50 kg -- could make a very powerful atomic bomb --
small enough to be carried in the trunk of an automobile).

Thus the US has been forcing all research reactors in North America
to convert from HEU to low enriched uranium (LEU) which cannot be
used as an explosive.

However, Chalk River insists on continuing to demand HEU for the
production of medical isotopes, even though these isotopes can
be produced using low-enriched uranium (Argentina does so for
example) and even though AECL promised years ago to work
towards the elimination of HEU as an ingredient in their isotope
production program.

Canada is setting a very bad example for the rest of the world in
allowing AECL to continue to import, stockpile and use highly
enriched uranium. After all if AECL can do it, why can't any other
research agency in the world do it too? The world will not long
tolerate a double standard like this.

The Canadian government should crack the whip and order AECL
to convert to the use of low enriched uranium, starting now.

Gordon Edwards.

AECL readies for restart of
Chalk River's ailing reactor

Nuclear agency seeks enriched uranium
used to make isotopes

By Ian MacLeod, The Ottawa Citizen January 6, 2010

In a sign of confidence that repairs to the crippled Chalk River
nuclear reactor are succeeding, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
is asking the United States for a fresh supply of highly enriched
uranium to make medical isotopes.

The Crown corporation applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission Dec. 19 for 16.3 kilograms of enriched uranium-235
(HEU) for medical isotope production once the NRU reactor is
fixed, according to a commission document obtained by the Citizen.

Citing national security, AECL will not discuss specifics about its
orders and inventory of the bomb-grade HEU. But requests usually
require a lead-time of at least a year before the HEU is shipped
from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, typically by a heavily armed transport
convoy. That's followed by more time fabricating the raw HEU into
"targets" to be irradiated inside the reactor.

"We don't want to be in a position where we have to shut the
reactor down because we don't have material. We're trying to
plan ahead here because of the lead times required," said Dale
Coffin, AECL spokesman. "As long as we're in the business of
producing medical isotopes, we still need the raw material."

The NRU has been out of service since May and isn't expect to
operate again until repairs are completed to its leaky containment
vessel, forecast for the end of March. As the world's largest
producer of medical isotopes for treating cancer, cardiac problems
and bone disease, it has been responsible for one-third of the
global supply, 80 per cent of Canada's needs and half of the U.S.'s.

AECL's new HEU order comes as Canada is reportedly considering
making nuclear non-proliferation and the materials to produce
radiological weapons the leading agenda items for June's Group
of Eight gathering of industrialized nations in Huntsville, Ont.

AECL says the raw HEU it uses cannot be easily fashioned into a
"dirty bomb," but the general "loose nukes" theme for the G-8 is
causing some to question Canada's political sincerity as it continuing
to use bomb-grade HEU rather than develop reactors that use far
less dangerous low-enriched uranium (LEU) as targets.

"When it comes to reducing risks of nuclear terrorism, Canada
should practise what it preaches," said Alan Kuperman, director of
the nuclear non-proliferation program at the University of Texas at
Austin and a leading opponent of HEU isotope production.

The eight-month NRU shutdown means U.S.-made HEU intended
for medical isotope production since last spring is stockpiled. AECL,
however, suggests that that inventory was diminished by a shutdown
of an isotope reactor in the Netherlands in 2008-09 that required the
NRU to boost production by an average of 30 per cent to 40 per cent
a month over six months.

Additional HEU intended for the failed MAPLEs reactors, which were
to replace the aging NRU, remains under heavy guard at the site,
too. AECL and the U.S. government, citing commercial and national
security reasons, refuse to discuss the status of the orphaned

But of the 42.5 kg believed to have been originally received from the
U.S. Department of Energy for MAPLEs isotope production, industry
sources say only a "small quantity" has been returned. The U.S.
government is said to be "actively pursuing" return of the remainder
to its producer at the Y-12 nuclear security complex in Oak Ridge.

There's also an undisclosed amount of irradiated HEU in reactor
waste material stored under guard on site.

Kuperman, who put the Chalk River HEU issue squarely on the
international stage with a damning 2006 cover story in the respected
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said AECL must, "stop requesting
more weapons-grade uranium for a reactor that is shut down
indefinitely and that already has an unused stockpile of such uranium.

"And it should immediately return to the United States the bomb's
worth of uranium targets originally intended for the now cancelled
MAPLE reactors, which serve no purpose except to attract terrorists."

AECL dismisses the notion. A para-military "Nuclear Response Force"
guards the fortified Chalk River research compound and thousands
of combat and support troops occupy the neighbouring CFB

Western security experts say elements of al-Qaeda's core group have
persistently sought the technical knowledge and components to build
a basic, gun-type nuclear weapon, which would require about 40 kg
of HEU.

Since it's generally agreed that terrorists don't have the capabilities to
enrich uranium or breed plutonium, the materials are only available
through theft, the black market, or transfer from a state sponsor.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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