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Oh, lovely! India will build ten new heavy water nuclear power reactors! It's an easier pathway to manufacturing Pu239, so it will probably provide material for yet more weapons.

It's been so long since a nuclear weapon has been used in anger that the horror of it has become something that is only barely imagined. It's very easy to believe that the visceral hate between India and Pakistan could devolve into open conflict and a serious exchange of nukes. With no trust between the two parties, even a minor military disagreement could escalate into total war.

They'll all be under safeguards, so your point is irrelevant. No one uses oxidized plutonium as a source material for nuclear weapons.

Anymore, I consider such "safeguards" as being as worthless as the paper they are written on. We are embarking into very perilous times. There is no love, and little trust lost between India and Pakistan, so things could go bad in a hurry. Both sides are continuing to build up their nuke arsenals, and it isn't just China the two sides are worried about.

I would be much, much more copacetic about India (and Pakistan, for that matter) building new power reactors that are not amenable to the creation of weapons-grade material.

You missed the point, so I'll say it again. No one makes bombs out of power reactor fuel. It's all oxidized. And it's not weapons-grade, it's reactor grade. Since you understand none of these relevant technical points, best you drop out of this discussion.

I think "Energy Matters" would make a very good weekly / bi weekly addition to the regulars here at SDA. Sunday and wednesday Energy matters roundup?

also, I'm fine with India building new nuclear reactors, and don't quite understand the Swiss today. *sigh

I don't expect the OPEC countries to take another step back in production, their social spending is still way out of line with their income, to nobody's surprise.

OK, I'll bite... Just what prevents someone from extracting Pu239 from heavy water reactor fuel? As I understand it, if you "short-cycle" the process, there's (relatively speaking) quite a bit of the Pu239 in the partially spent fuel that can be extracted for other purposes. What is to prevent India from doing that?

Perhaps Pu-oxide is difficult to extract from partially spent reactor fuel, and then reduce it to metallic form, but I will be very surprised if that is true.

And yes, there are other (likely better) pathways to weapons-grade material, but please give me a technical explanation as to why they cannot possibly do this.

Canada sold India a CANDU reactor nearly 50 years ago under the premise that it would be used for "peaceful purposes". Guess where India got the nuclear material for its first bomb, which it detonated in 1974? Testing that nuke caught the West by surprise, so, clearly, India had processing facilities that nobody else appeared to know about.

It caused a scandal in this country but PET, as usual, managed to wiggle his way out of it.

Keep in mind that a few years before that, India and Pakistan had fought each other in two (or was it three?) wars, one of which because of the secession of East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh soon afterward. Those two countries didn't like each other very much back then and they still don't.

Nearly 20 years ago, Pakistan tested its own bomb, followed by an Indian counter-test. Development of the Pakistani bomb had long been suspected at least as far back as the early 1980s, so the blast wasn't entirely unexpected. Needless to say, the incidents caused some concern.

Of course, the equipment and material that was needed to make the Pakistani bomb was acquired for--wait for it!--"peaceful purposes".

In addition, guess from which country the terrorists who attacked Mumbai in 2008 came from?

Good questions, Dave.

Several things. First, reactor grade plutonium is a mix of isotopes, mostly 239 and 240, with small amounts of 241 and 242 mixed in. This makes it highly unreliable for explosive purposes because the different isotopes of plutonium will fission at very different rates. Weapons grade material is at least 90% pure 239. For weapons, reactor fuel will not produce this.

Second, weapons material is NOT produced in power reactors. The temperature is much too high; all the targets would melt. All reactor fuel uranium oxide, not pure uranium metal. So, all weapons material is made in things like research reactors under low pressure and low temperature. Much easier that way than using reactor fuel and then having to de-oxidize it.

Third, for weapons material, you want to extract the targets all the time with great frequency (to avoid letting it 'cook' too long and turning it into reactor grade). This means a very high throughput of targets being bombarded, vastly higher than the turnover of fuel in a power reactor. Because all fuel is monitored, doing such in a power reactor would be highly visible and provide everyone else with a very high understanding of just how much weapons material has been produced.

Well you have drawn the wrong conclusions from the wrong facts. Canada sold two power reactors to India, the first entering service in 1971 and the second in 1972. The Indian nuclear explosion took place in 1974, far too soon for enough plutonium to be produced for an explosion.

India had been producing plutonium for weapons starting in the 1960s long before those power reactors were built. It was all coming from a research reactor called CIRUS which had been supplied to India in 1956 as a joint Canada, US, UK research development project. In fact CIRUS continued to be India's supply source of weapons material until it was shut down and replaced by their own about a decade ago.

Pakistan similarly used a research reactor to produce its material, in this case supplied by China.

No, it caught no one by surprise. Everyone was aware that India was doing military things with the research reactor they had been supplied. The two power reactors Canada provided remained under IAEA safeguards from first startup to the present day, and all of their fuel is accounted for.

Well you have drawn the wrong conclusions from the wrong facts.

I'll concede that it was more than 40 years ago that the events I mentioned earlier took place and that my recollection of the exact details may be hazy.

My background in nuclear physics and nuclear power is rather limited, so I'm unfamiliar with many of the details.

No, it caught no one by surprise.

Not according to the news reports at the time. MPs were squawking in the House of Commons because Canada's support of India's nuclear program implicated us.

The Americans weren't too pleased about it, either. It took place in the final months of Nixon's presidency, so there might not have been much attention paid to India's activities considering how chummy India was with the USSR at the time. The test also took place about a sesquiyear after the Americans withdrew from Viet Nam and relations with the Soviets and their allies were fragile.

If I recall correctly, the Pakistanis were considered to be several years behind India. There was speculation that they were working on a bomb and it was a question as to when they'd have one. Suspicions were raised when certain western firms sold parts either directly to Pakistan or companies that did business there. Those parts included krytrons, which could be used to build nuclear triggers.


"But experts said Friday that large-scale production remains many years away and if not done properly could flood the atmosphere with climate-changing greenhouse gases"
No mention of who these experts are. The cult is strong in these posers.

Indeed the news reports at the time came at the public as a great surprise. No government had disclosed in any of the years previously their concern over what Nehru and Indira Gandhi had been doing. Indeed it did implicate us, but solely because we had supplied India with large parts of a research reactor without requiring any accountability at the time from Nehru. All the rest of the 1974 harrumphing was just a bunch of airbags sounding off long after the fact, pretending they knew nothing about it.

A nuclear weapons program is far too big to hide, then or now.

You are indeed right that Pakistan was years behind India. It would not in fact test nuclear explosives until 1998 when it let off five of them more or less simultaneously. There is some doubt about some of them; my understanding is that the seismic readings taken by the Americans indicated that at least two of them were duds.

The outcomes for the two countries was very different. India's acceptance into the Nuclear Suppliers Group about a decade ago constituted de facto recognition of its status as the world's sixth nuclear weapons state (though no government official will admit this). However, Pakistan was and is regarded as a pariah because it proliferated its weapons technology to Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Whereas it has long been acknowledged that India proliferated its weapons technology to no one. And it has separated its nuclear technology, like US, UK, France, Russia, China, into civilian and strategic (military) sections.

Oops wrong thread:(

Hidden in the que...Canada makes moratorium on Tankers official..
No Tankers in the inside passage...
No export to India or China from the Lower Mainland ports.
Good thing Prince Rupert will separate with the West of Us.

I recall that there had been some skepticism about some of the Pakistani tests. That, however, didn't stop India from setting off another one, perhaps to call Pakistan's bluff.

One reason that India has been seen as a nuclear good guy was that it wasn't belligerent about it. The test in 1974 showed that it, too, had certain technological capabilities, but it didn't set up a weapons system and aimed it at its enemies.

Pakistan's loyalties and inclinations had long been questioned, particularly after the coup in the 1970s. It was feared that once it had a bomb, other Islamic countries, Iran in particular, would soon have one as well.

Interesting conversation above.

Hopefully Poland tells the EU where to stick it.

Interesting conversation above.

Hopefully Poland tells the EU where to stick it.

"I recall that there had been some skepticism about some of the Pakistani tests. That, however, didn't stop India from setting off another one, perhaps to call Pakistan's bluff."

Quite so. Four of the five Pakistani tests all registered about 1 kt, which is actually very difficult to do. Larger explosions are technically much easier, which is why there's a great deal of public suspicion that up to four of them may have been duds. Isotopic purity is just one of a host of reasons why this could be so.

It also should be remembered that India, Pakistan and Israel never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the 1970s. Thus none of them have ever violated anything with their weapons programs. However, Iraq, Iran and NK DID sign NPT and all three violated the treaty in subsequent years. And all three acquired their technology based upon what Pakistan had provided to them. Hence, Pakistan was the pariah to be shunned.

Well... hoooooooray!! Switzerland's weedheads just voted itself into stone age. So bring on that marijuana legalization next.
Switzerland is SO dead.

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