Back in a previous lifetime, I used to teach operators how to run nuclear power plants. So, I actually do know something about this subject, although I am certainly not an expert. But, I do know more than 99% of the damn fools that pontificate on TV. If THEY can talk on this subject, then I am also fully qualified to portray a Doctor on television. (Although “they” refuse to let me prescribe drugs!)
You might have seen the story wherein John Bolton said that we only have days to stop Iran’s nuclear program: http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=185060
Russia is about to fuel the Iranian nuclear power plant at Bushehr. The idea is that after the power plant has fuel in it, an attempt to destroy it would release wide-spread radiation. They appear to have “discovered” international laws against it.
So…who cares and why? Here’s what it’s all about:
The concern, of course, is that Iran is going to make an atomic bomb. The leader of Iran has said that he is going to use a nuclear bomb to destroy Israel in a nuclear Holocaust. They have PROMISED! But it just isn’t that easy; it’s not like making an omelet.
The technology of making the bomb once you have the fuel is difficult. But, we can assume that Iran has that technology since the Moslem-Pakistani “scientist” A.Q Kahn sold nuclear technology to rogue nations: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3461855.stm
Perhaps the most difficult part of the whole process is getting the fuel to make the bomb. There were two materials used for making the bomb. The only naturally occurring one is a specific isotope of Uranium, i.e. U235. That isotope is a very small part of naturally occurring Uranium, about 0.7%, with the balance 99.3% is mostly U238. You need a minimum of 80% U235 for a primitive bomb with 90% the usual enrichment but all you need is a 110 pound chunk.
But….It is a real chore to separate U235 from natural Uranium. See here for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enriched_uranium
So…right about now you may be asking yourself, “Self, what does enrichment have to do with anything?”
Well, I’ve explained how difficult getting the U235 to make a bomb. But, there is an easier way.
Nuclear Power Plant fuel is only slightly enriched, at about 3 or 4% U235 and the rest of the Uranium in the fuel is U238. And a curious thing happens with the U238 in the reactor.
In the process that creates energy in the reactor, the U238 acts like a “poison” to the reaction. But….some of the U238 is converted into Plutonium 239, and Pu239 can be used to make a bomb. You only need about 35 pounds and since the Pu239 is chemically different from all of the other “stuff” in the fuel, you can separate out the Pu239 with relative ease.
That’s why there is all of the interest in used nuclear power plant fuel. It has “stuff” in it that can be used for a bomb and it’s easy to separate out.
Now the Iranians are starting up a nuclear reactor built by the Russians. And they “promise” to give the used fuel back to Russia for reprocessing. I am sure that you can trust them just as much as Bubba Clinton and the pathetic fool Jimmy Carter trusted North Korea when they give North Korea nuclear reactors.
The problem with blowing up a nuclear power plant is:
When the fuel is first installed, it is only very slightly radioactive. In addition, the fuel is in the form of chemically inert ceramic pellets. So, if “They” were to blow up the reactor after it is fueled but before it is started up, there wouldn’t be much radiation released.
Once the reactor starts up, there are two things that happen. First, one by-product of the power process is the creation of radioactive waste products. They start at 0% and build up to some constant value. The second thing happening is that the ceramic fuel pellets slightly crumble over time. So, the longer the reactor operates, the greater the danger of releasing radioactivity should someone “blow” it up.
It appears that the Iranians are using U235 enrichment technology for their bomb program. Also, this particular power plant is of a design that is not very efficient in the production of Pu239. (It is a pressurized water reactor working on thermal neutrons vs. a high temperature reactor working on fast neutrons if you really want to know.)
So, this reactor is useless in the short-term and not very effective in the long-term for making bombs. Honestly, it would appear that the destruction of the centrifuge facilities are of a higher priority in limiting the Iranian ability to make a nuclear bomb.
I am guessing that all of this is just “Sturm und Drang” for now.
Word for the week: Sturm und Drang came to be associated with literature or music aimed at frightening the audience or imbuing them with extremes of emotion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturm_und_Drang
Steamboat Jack (my evil twin)
Remember when the Dems and their boot lick media reported the story that Iran had stopped their atomic bomb production? It was all lies and their lies may still lead to a nuclear Holocaust.