Monthly Archives: February 2014

Nuclear Waste Repository Set to Reopen After Leak

The New York Times |  MATTHEW L. WALD | FEB. 25, 2014


 A tour last month of the 2,150-foot-deep mines carved in solid salt at the Energy Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M. Credit Michael Stravato for The New York Times

Almost two weeks after an unexplained puff of radioactive materials forced the closing of a salt mine in New Mexico that is used to bury nuclear bomb wastes, managers of the mine are planning to send workers back in and are telling nearby residents that their health is safe.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, 28 miles east of Carlsbad, has been in operation for 15 years, burying wastes in an ancient salt bed deep beneath the desert, mostly without incident, and some experts have said that the site should be considered for additional kinds of nuclear waste.

But late on Feb. 14, at an hour when no one was in the mine, an air monitor indicated the presence of radioactive contamination. An automated system cut off most of the ventilation and routed the exhaust through filters that are supposed to capture 99.97 percent of all contamination, turning off fans and changing the air flow, in less than one minute.

This most likely minimized the contamination that reached the surface, according to the mine’s monitors, who were on hand to reassure anxious Carlsbad residents at a town-hall-style meeting Monday night. The monitors told the residents that there had been no health risk at all and that the radiation levels detected near the mine’s surface — far from town — were well below concern.

“For someone living in town, I would say the dose was probably zero,” Russell Hardy, director of the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, an independent monitoring organization that is part of New Mexico State University, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. He said that the event would not add to background levels of radiation — including bomb fallout — any more than an eyedropper full of water would contribute to the rise in the level of the Pacific Ocean.

There was some small release of radiation, however. The Carlsbad research center registered the materials — plutonium and americium — on filter materials installed on air monitors in the surrounding desert. These filters must be collected and then dissolved in acid so the material they trapped can be analyzed. They can detect amounts far smaller than the device that registered the initial alarm, but the process takes many hours.

The materials registered on the surface are consistent with the material buried at the plant, but the quantities released are far below the levels at which the Environmental Protection Agency would recommend any action, officials said.

Even in the desert, the danger to humans was small, the mine’s operators said. The highest reading from the monitors indicated that a person could have inhaled radioactive material that would emit a dose, over the person’s lifetime, of 3.4 millirem, an amount roughly equal to three days of natural background radiation. But to get the dose, the person would have had to stand for hours in the desert, on the downwind side of the plant.

“The numbers are so low, we need really sensitive pieces of equipment that can detect these low numbers,” said Farok Sharif, the president and project manager for the contracting firm that operates the mine, the Nuclear Waste Partnership.

But the incident, whose cause will not be known until technicians can re-enter the area, has marred a close-to-perfect safety record at the plant, known by its acronym, WIPP. And it came a few days after a truck in the mine caught fire, although the events were said to be unrelated.

The Energy Department, which owns the repository, caught some criticism for the way it communicated the problems. “Information gaps can exacerbate fears and erode trust,” said Steven M. Becker, a professor in the College of Health Sciences at Old Dominion University, in Norfolk, Va., and an expert on communicating radiation risk. Managers have not said when technicians will re-enter the mine.

The plant accepts shipments from Energy Department laboratories and factories involved in nuclear weapons production. Some manufacturing plants from the Cold War era have been able to close because the repository accepted their waste. Officials have not said which sites packaged and shipped the materials that leaked.

GLE will apply for license to build laser enrichment facility in Paducah

IPFM Blog |

Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) notified the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its intent to apply for a license to construct and operate a laser enrichment facility at Paducah. According to the GLE letter, posted at the NRC site,

The license application is associated with GLE’s plans to construct and operate a new laser enrichment facility on or near the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) site. This facility, referred to as the Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility (PLEF), is anticipated to be deployed as part of an agreement between GLE and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to purchase and re-enrich certain DOE inventories of depleted UF6.

In September 2012 GLE received an NRC license “to construct and operate a uranium enrichment plant using laser technology in Wilmington, N.C.” Construction of that facility, known also as a Castle Hayne plant, has not started yet.


PMD Thoughts

Arms Control Law | Dan Joyner |February 20, 2014

With the latest round of talks between the P5+1 and Iran in Vienna, there has been another resurgence of writing on the possible military dimensions (PMD) issue. Some good. Most uninformed and/or agenda-driven.

One theme that I’ve noticed running throughout a lot of the commentary on the PMD issue is speculation about the intentions behind whatever nuclear weapons related R&D work went on in Iran up until 2003. And this speculation is often presented more as a statement of fact than as speculation.

For example, Jeffrey Lewis in a piece in Foreign Policy a while ago said:

Left to its own devices, the 2007 NIE suggests, Iran would likely have acquired a nuclear weapon.

Similarly, in his piece just posted yesterday over at Arms Control Wonk, Aaron Stein said:

According to my research, Iran made the decision to proliferate sometime after March 1984, but before the end of 1985.

Here and elsewhere, observers are speculating about Iran’s intention in doing whatever weapons related R&D they were doing. They’re speculating that Iran’s intention was linear – i.e. to progress linearly from R&D straight onward to building and fielding a nuclear weapon.

I think it’s fallacious, and possibly specious to assume that this was or is Iran’s intention. And more to the point, it is pure, unevidenced speculation.

Don’t the facts of Iran’s R&D work with nuclear weapons – even accepting as facts those allegations that are controversial and that Iran has denied – equally or more persuasively support the hypothesis that Iran’s intent or purpose in carrying out that R&D work was to reach a level of technical and industrial capacity and knowledge at which Iran would be capable of producing a nuclear weapon, without necessarily taking the decision to build a nuclear weapon?

This is the concept of “nuclear hedging,” as introduced by Ariel Levite in his groundbreaking article in International Security in 2002. As Levite explained:

Nuclear hedging refers to a national strategy of maintaining, or at least appearing to maintain, a viable option for the relatively rapid acquisition of nuclear weapons, based on an indigenous technical capacity to produce them within a relatively short time frame ranging from several weeks to a few years.

In its most advanced form, nuclear hedging involves nuclear fuel–cycle facilities capable of producing fissionable materials (by way of uranium enrichment and/or plutonium separation), as well as the scientific and engineering expertise both to support them and to package their final product into a nuclear explosive charge.

Nuclear hedging is a strategy that may be adopted either during the process of developing a bomb or as part of the rollback process, as a way of retaining the option of restarting a weapons program that has been halted or reversed.

So again, don’t the facts of Iran’s R&D work on nuclear weapons pre-2003 better fit a nuclear hedging policy, than a policy of a linear march to a bomb? I mean it’s fairly clear that Iran’s impetus for doing the nuclear weapons R&D that it did during this period was its traumatic war with Iraq, which had included the use of chemical weapons against Iran, and the continued threat that Saddam Hussein posed to Iran. Doesn’t it make sense that, faced with this very real threat and history, Iran would want to develop the capacity to produce nuclear weapons to defend itself in the case of another war with Iraq? But again, just because it makes sense that they might want the capability to do this, does not mean that they would have ever exercised the option to build a nuclear weapon.

It’s also fairly clear that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons R&D work around 2003, due to the invasion of Iraq by the West – effectively removing the Iraqi threat – and to concerns that if its own weaponization R&D work were discovered, it might be next on the US hit list. To me, this is a persuasive narrative with bookends, and again fits perfectly with the idea that Iran achieved capability in some aspects of weaponization, and overall is keeping its options open with regard to the future, but has not made a decision to build a nuclear weapon. In short, that Iran’s case is perfectly described by the concept of nuclear hedging.

It is well known that there are a number of states in the world today who are nuclear weapons threshold states – who have all the necessary knowledge and the technical and industrial capabilities to build a nuclear weapon in short order. And the fact that they have not yet exercised that option, is proof of the prudence that a number of states see in achieving and maintain the capability to build a nuclear weapon, but choosing not to exercise that option.

So again, whatever nuclear weapons R&D work Iran did in the past, we do not know and should not speculate about their intent in doing that work and obtaining that knowledge and capability. Nor should we speculate, as so many do, what Iran’s intent is regarding the future. There is absolutely no evidence, and this conclusion is borne out by the conclusions of the US intelligence community, that Iran is currently seeking to build a nuclear bomb, or that they will seek to do so in the future.

Another thing that you always hear when particularly US government officials, but also IAEA officials, talk about the PMD issue, is that it’s necessary to include the resolution of the PMD issue in the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1/IAEA, because only through Iran’s transparency about this work, and admission of its having been done, can the international community begin to build trust with Iran, and confidence that Iran is not currently engaged in nuclear weapons related work.

But have you ever stopped to really think about that rationale, and whether it makes sense?  How, in practical terms, will knowing the details about what Iran did in the past regarding weaponization R&D, give other states or the IAEA any meaningful confidence about what Iran is or is not doing now regarding weaponization R&D?

How will knowing the details of what Iran did in the past, and having Iran admit to them, actually increase other states’ ability to trust Iran now?

I confess I don’t see a real, practical connection between the propositions in either of these questions.

Don’t we already have the conclusions of the US intelligence community that, whatever weaponization R&D work was going on in Iran pre-2003, it has been halted since then, and that there is no evidence that Iran has made or will make a decision to re-start it or to build a nuclear weapon?

Isn’t that exactly what this rationale says we need to know about Iran’s current program?

So how does knowing more about the details of what happened 15-20 years ago increase our confidence about what is going on now, or our trust in Iran about the future? To me it doesn’t make sense logically.

To me it appears that IAEA/Western insistence on having the PMD issue as part of the P5+1/IAEA negotiations with Iran, is more persuasively explained as a witch hunt for past truth and a concession of embarrassment for Iran which, while perhaps cathartic and a moral victory for the West, really serves no practical purpose for the present or future. It strikes me as more of a truth and reconciliation mission, which I think Iran understandably has no interest in. As Mark Hibbs has explained:

On February 3, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, visited the German Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin. Zarif explained to us that Iran has no aim or interest in having nuclear weapons. In fact, he said that the credibility of Iran’s regime was founded upon Iran not having such an ambition or interest. That’s the crux. If the credibility of Iran’s regime rests on its disavowal of nuclear arms, then any admission by Iran to the IAEA that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been engaged in nuclear weapons-related research or experiments–which prima facie would have to be reported to the Board of Governors– would severely damage the regime’s reputation. Shia theology might imply that nuclear weapons are sinful, but the IAEA’s dossier poses a potential major credibility problem. For Iran at any point to admit that it worked on nuclear weapons would be orders or magnitude more significant than Iran admitting, as it did in 2003, to having failed to declare to the IAEA a flurry of nuclear activities which could be justified by Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.

So there is zero likelihood that Iran will ever sign a confession detailing nuclear weapons related R&D that may have gone on pre-2003, and for the West and the IAEA to insist on such a confession is a sure way to guarantee the failure of the current diplomatic effort with Iran.

I was having a conversation earlier today with a colleague, and he raised an insightful question about the purpose of international law, and how it might shed some light on how this issue should be dealt with in the context of the current negotiations between Iran and the West.

Most of the corpus of international law, including the sources of nuclear nonproliferation law such as the NPT and IAEA safeguards agreements, is most analogous to domestic tort and contract law, which focus on identifying breaches of law as between parties, and ensuring that the party responsible for the breach makes the damaged party whole. As long as an extra-judicial settlement of the issue can be reached among the parties, in these areas the law is generally happy to approve of that settlement, and allow the parties to move forward on the basis of that settlement. If that settlement can be reached – and it is often necessary or at least useful in order for such a settlement to be reached – without dragging into public view all of the sins of the parties against each other, and requiring a confession of guilt by the party responsible for the breach, the law will recognize the settlement in the interest of moving forward.

The exception to this paradigm occurs in criminal law, which is purposed in a clear explication of the facts of the breach of law, in order to establish the guilt of the responsible party, and to mete out an appropriate punishment for that party. Revelation of the facts of the case is also considered necessary both for the sake of the victim, as well as for the sake of broader society. In criminal law there typically is no such thing as a non-judicial settlement between the perpetrator and the victim that the law will recognize. A judicial finding of guilt or innocence is necessary for the disposition of the case.

In the context of negotiations between Iran and the West/IAEA over Iran’s nuclear program, I think it is clear that we are and should remain within the first, contract/tort law paradigm, and that we should not allow considerations more fitting for a criminal law paradigm to interfere – and they will interfere – in the peaceful resolution of this dispute, which can then allow the parties to move

Decommissioning of Chernobyl units approaches

WNN | 19 February 2014

Work could soon start on decommissioning units 1 to 3 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine after a project to put the units into care and maintenance was approved by a state review authority.

Chernobyl panoramic 460 (ChNPP)

The review by State Enterprise Ukrderzhbudekspertiza confirmed that the project to ‘ultimately close and mothball’ the units is in accordance with all necessary regulatory and legal requirements.

Work to bring the three units into a ‘conserved’ state will be carried out in six stages between now and 2028. The first stage is to refurbish the water supply system for the plant’s fire protection system. The second stage will involve the dismantling of the pressure tubes and control and protection channels of units 1 to 3. The reactors of units 1 and 2 will then be put into a state of care and maintenance in which they will lie undisturbed, allowing the remaining radioactivity to decay naturally. In the fourth stage, the roofs of the reactor halls of units 1 and 2 will be refurbished while the fuel handling machines of those units will be dismantled. The plant’s third unit will then be put into care and maintenance, while in the final stage the unit’s reactor hall roof will be refurbished and its fuel handling machinery dismantled.

The Chernobyl site operator said that the ultimate aim of the project is to bring units 1, 2 and 3 “to a condition that ensures safe, controlled storage of radioactive substances and sources of ionizing radiation within them.” It said that the project will cost more than UAH385 million ($43 million).

The operator said that the review authority’s approval of the project will allow it to obtain a permit to perform the work and start decommissioning of the units.

For the period between 2028 and 2046, the most contaminated equipment will be removed from the units, while the reactors themselves will be dismantled between 2046 and 2064.

On 26 April 1986, the Chernobyl plant suffered the worst nuclear accident in history when a power runaway event wrecked reactor 4. The three remaining reactor units, however, were vital to Ukraine’s electricity needs and continued to operate for some years. Unit 2 shut down in 1991, unit 1 in 1996 and unit 3 in 2000.

The decommissioning of units 1-3 is being carried out separately from that of the destroyed unit 4, which is expected to take many years longer to complete.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

Hans Brinker & the IAEA

Atomic Reporters | February 22, 2014

Then he saw a very small hole in the dike! Now every child in Holland knows what that means…”The Silver Skates


If leadership is found in preparation for unforeseen events, then it is good that the International Atomic Energy Agency is seeking an “Emergency Communications Specialist.” The agency’s well-documented communications failures after the March 2011 Fukushima Dai-Ichi meltdown needed repair. Because reactor meltdowns are international incidents and sovereign states want facts to assess risk, the IAEA is perceived as the best-placed organization for information in times of need.

Providing data in the nuclear realm isn’t easy. It’s a domain where questions of energy, safety or safeguards depend on answers from multivalent engineers, chemists, doctors and lawyers. Nuclear experts are multi-disciplinary. That is why they are so few.


To their credit, practitioners of the nuclear disciplines have created communities to share information and manage complexity. The IAEA, for example, maintains databases, convenes meetings and runs schools. These knowledge centers bind experts. Just last week there was the “International Experts’ Meeting on Radiation Protection after the Fukushima Daiichi Accident: Promoting Confidence and Understanding.


Quite a title to unpack: People with expertise in more than one nuclear specialty got together in Vienna to exchange post-meltdown radiation-protection facts and anecdotes. The point of the get together was to win trust and sympathy from the public. Hopefully they enjoyed the Wiener Schnitzel amidst the Schnitzeljagd!


The writ-large Public has a hard time digesting what “confidence and understanding” mean in the nuclear realm. There’s a lot of baggage to the relationship, starting with the fact that it’s a mythologized boogeyman due to its inception as a potentially-genocidal weapon. Maybe some element of the public sees benefit from nuclear energy. Still others are capable of recognizing spin-off applications like cancer treatment, induced crop mutations, fruit-fly sterilization, carbon dating etc…


The trouble of course is that failure by nuclear experts yields disproportionate public risk. Be it through meltdown, orphaned source or wars threatened over proliferation, the broader public is inevitably confronted with the question:


“Is nuclear worth its trouble?”


Even the drafters of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review’s final document seem to have given up on winning converts:


The Conference affirms the importance of public information in connection with peaceful nuclear activities in States parties to help build acceptance of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.“ – Article IV, Paragraph 39, “Peaceful uses of nuclear energy: nuclear energy and technical cooperation”


It’s about “building acceptance” of nuclear technology. Compare that with the idea of “promoting confidence and understanding” in the ability to protect from its potential consequences. In the first instance, one recognizes that even if we flipped the nuclear switch “off,” we’d still need centuries worth of nuclear scientists to deal with the industrial legacy. The other shouts “open bar!” and flaunts a line of Rockettes while offering another refrain of “electricity too cheap to be metered!”


The disparity in language reflects the IAEA’s mission. Created in 1957, the agency’s statue says it “shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.” That’s a pretty clear mission. There are certainly a few other mature technologies and industries that could benefit from having a UN-mandated support group. Might we imagine where our economic crisis would be had the World Bank taken a similar outlook on financial services?


Safecast hackers Pieter Franken and Joe Moross, wrote on their weblog before taking part in last week’s IAEA meeting that “there’s the possibility that our participation would only serve to make the IAEA look good, as in `inclusive and open-minded,’ without leading to any constructive dialog.” To be fair, and with no small help from a Norwegian intervention, it does seem as though Safecast appreciated the conference as much as the conference appreciated them.


Safecast is of course that modern and inevitable consequence of inadequate public information from untrusted sources. After the Fukushima Dai-Ichi meltdown, when reliable radiation data was scarce, people banded together and got information themselves. They shared facts. They educated each other when authorities proved unwilling or able. No wonder Safecast has a following at the IAEA. Two random guys in Japan became more widely trusted by many than 60-years of UN-agency authority.


While it is admirable that the IAEA sought to include groups like Safecast and younger scientists in last week’s proceedings, it should be noted that media and therefore the public are still kept outside. There was a brief press conference attended by a few journalists at the conclusion. It was webcast. That was the extent of public outreach.


IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor and Sigurdur Magnusson, Director the Icelandic Radiation Safety Authority speak after the Feb. 17-21 closed-door meeting on “Promoting Confidence and Understanding” in radiation protection following the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown

Those in the press and public who wonder about things like Strontium-90′s risk to the food chain and/or whether the linear no-threshold model really is an anachronism can keep wondering.

If there’s a perception problem during an emergency, it helps to have a communicator who is “engaging, compelling and creative,” as the IAEA advertisement seeks. It notably doesn’t look for somebody to engage in “outreach” or “education” or “interaction” with the public. Of course, without those latter actions before a crisis strikes, the job advertised might as well read:

Wanted: Wool Puller (multiple eyes under occasionally strenuous conditions)

Here’s a tip, IAEA: If you haven’t already hired Safecast to be your “Emergency-Communications Specialist,” at least take note of what they’re doing. If you exclude the public from proceedings, you don’t build trust and confidence. You don’t even build acceptance. You create the need for alternatives.

In the Hans Brinker fable, Holland’s complex dike systems allowed a nation to thrive below sea level. It was a child’s understanding of that complexity which allowed it to survive.

Maybe there’s a lesson for nuclear in that?

–Submitted by a long-time IAEA observer with roots in industry analysis and a soft spot for journalism

Kernmachten buiten beeld tijdens nucleaire top in Den Haag

De Wereld Morgen | IPS | 12 februari 2014

NEW YORK — Tijdens de nucleaire top die eind maart in Den Haag wordt gehouden, is de centrale vraag hoe te voorkomen dat terroristen en niet-overheden kernwapens of nucleair materiaal in handen krijgen. De acht kernmachten zelf blijven echter buiten schot.


Meer dan vijftig wereldleiders komen op 24 en 25 maart naar Nederland om tijdens de Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) te praten over nucleaire veiligheid. Sceptici en activisten vinden dat niet alleen het bezitten van gevaarlijk materiaal door niet-overheden aan de orde moet komen, maar ook preventie van gebruik van kernwapens door de landen die ze al bezitten.

Het probleem met de kerntop is volgens Alyn Ware van de International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA), dat hij gaat over mensen die geen kernwapens hebben. “Het grotere plaatje blijft buiten beeld: de huidige en echte dreiging van de voorraden kernwapens en materialen van kernmachten en de risico’s van proliferatie naar andere staten”, zegt hij.

Alle kernmachten – de Verenigde Staten, Groot-Brittannië, Frankrijk, China, Rusland, India, Pakistan en Israël – nemen deel aan de top. Noord-Korea, dat officieel geen kernmacht is, behoort niet tot de 58 landen die naar de internationale conferentie komen. Den Haag verwacht ongeveer 5000 afgevaardigden en 3000 journalisten. Volgens de Nederlandse regering is het “de grootste top ooit” in Nederland gehouden.

De angst dat kernwapens “in verkeerde handen vallen” raakt volgens Ware niet de kern van de zaak. “Als het om kernwapens gaat, zijn er geen goede handen.”


Het Internationaal Gerechtshof in Den Haag (ICJ) beschouwt de dreiging met of het gebruik van kernwapens al lange tijd als illegaal, ongeacht wie ze bezit of gebruikt. Het ICJ erkent ook de plicht te werken aan ontwapening. “Het is ironisch dat deze top in Den Haag wordt gehouden, en tegelijkertijd geen aandacht te besteden aan de besluiten van de hoogste rechtbank in de wereld in dezelfde stad”, zegt Ware, die ook lid is van de World Future Council.

De top in Den Haag is de derde in een reeks. De eerste internationale bijeenkomst werd gehouden in Washington DC in 2010, de tweede in Seoul (Zuid-Korea) in 2012. De Nederlandse premier Mark Rutte noemde de hoeveelheid nucleair materiaal in de wereld “enorm.” “Als dat materiaal in handen van terroristen valt, kunnen de gevolgen desastreus zijn. De internationale gemeenschap moet er alles aan doen dit te voorkomen”, zei hij. Door gastheer te zijn van deze top, zegt hij, draagt Nederland bij aan een veiliger wereld.


Op de vraag of er sinds Seoul enige vooruitgang is geboekt, antwoordt M.V. Ramana van de Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs van de Universiteit van Princeton bevestigend. Volgens het Initiatief Nucleaire Dreiging (Nucleair Threat Initiative), dat op zijn beurt de Amerikaanse Nationale Dienst voor Nucleaire Veiligheid (NNSA) citeert, hebben zeven landen gevaarlijk nucleair materiaal geheel of gedeeltelijk van hun territorium verwijderd. Het gaat om Oostenrijk, Tsjechië, Hongarije, Mexico, Zweden, Oekraïne en Vietnam.

“Dat is uiteraard goed”, zegt Ramana. “Maar dit zijn niet de landen waar de internationale gemeenschap zich echt zorgen over maakt. Ook hadden ze geen grote voorraad splijtbaar materiaal.”

De grootste zorg, zegt Ramana, moet uitgaan naar de landen die wel grote voorraden hebben: de kernmachten. En daar lijken nog geen plannen te bestaan kernwapens op te geven. “Ik verwacht niet dat één van die landen tijdens de aanstaande top een belangrijke mededeling zal doen”, zegt hij.

De Amerikaanse president Barack Obama zou eerder gezegd hebben dat de dreiging van een wereldwijde kernoorlog kleiner is geworden, maar dat het risico op een kernaanval groter is dan in het verleden. Elk gebruik van een kernwapens in een stedelijk gebied zou catastrofale gevolgen hebben voor mensen, de economie en het milieu.


Ware zegt dat het voor regeringen, wetenschappers, wetgevers en het maatschappelijk middenveld belangrijk is samen te werken om te garanderen dat nucleaire materialen en technologie niet gebruikt worden om kernwapens te maken en te voorkomen dat deze wapens gebruikt worden.

Als de Nederlandse regering zegt dat de NSS “over nonproliferatie gaat”, geeft zij daarmee tegelijk aan dat de focus van de top beperkt is. “Het gaat over ruw nucleair materiaal, en het voorkomen dat dat materiaal in verkeerde handen valt”, zegt Ware.

Volgens de Nederlandse regering gaat de kerntop niet over nucleaire ontwapening, de voor- en nadelen van kernenergie of bescherming tegen natuurrampen. Dat regeringen er veel geld voor uittrekken om te voorkomen dat nucleair materiaal in handen van individuen terechtkomt, is begrijpelijk, zegt hij. “Maar waarom niet evenveel geld uittrekken voor het elimineren van de huidige arsenalen kernwapens, inclusief de wapens die in Nederland liggen opgeslagen, en het beveiligen van voorraden splijtstoffen in landen met kernwapens?”
Auteur: Thalif Deen

Nucleaire top in Den Haag

Nucleaire top lost helemaal niets op

Henk van der Keur | stichting Laka | 25 februari 2014

Als we de mainstream media moeten geloven is de nucleaire topconferentie die op 24 en 25 maart in Den Haag wordt gehouden een belangrijke stap op weg naar het verstevigen van de internationale veiligheid. Op papier is die veronderstelling juist, maar het stemt niet overeen met de werkelijkheid. Ons wordt voorgehouden dat er gewerkt wordt aan striktere regelgeving om verspreiding van civiel nucleair materiaal, dat ook kan worden gebruikt voor het maken van kernwapens, tegen te gaan. Zo moet worden voorkomen dat landen als Iran of terroristische organisaties, zoals Al-Qaida, kernwapens kunnen maken. In werkelijkheid vormt Iran geen bedreiging en wordt door het zelfzuchtige beleid van de grootmachten de mogelijkheid van een terroristische kernaanval eerder vergroot dan verkleind.

Al decennialang worden we door de media bestookt met de meest bizarre beweringen over nucleaire dreigingen in de wereld. Iran – dat al decennialang bijna over een kernwapen beschikt – is daar een exemplarisch voorbeeld van. De afgelopen jaren wordt vooral de uraniumverrijkingscapaciteit van dat land in de media sterk uitvergroot.  Hele volksstammen denken daardoor zeker te weten dat dit land een groot nucleair gevaar is door het enorme potentieel aan uraniumverrijking dat dit land zou hebben opgebouwd. Ze beseffen niet dat het in werkelijkheid gaat om slechts twee piepkleine verrijkingsfabrieken en dat Iran zeker één jaar nodig heeft om net zoveel laag verrijkt uranium te produceren wat het Europese consortium Urenco in vijf uur kan produceren ( Iran komt sinds 2003 al zijn verplichtingen krachtens de vigerende non-proliferatieverdragen na. Feitelijk is er geen enkele reden waarom Iran medewerking zou moeten verlenen aan de onderhandelingen met de vijf grootmachten (VS, VK, Frankrijk, China en Rusland) plus Duitsland. Het is een absurd toneelstuk, die de aandacht moet afleiden van de werkelijke bedoelingen van deze landen. In werkelijkheid zijn zij het die de non-proliferatieverdragen ondermijnen.

Het was Bill Clinton die dit tijdperk van deze ondermijning van de verdragen inluidde door de kernproeven van India de facto te erkennen en de deur voor nucleaire handel met dat land op een kier zette. In 2008 legaliseerde president Bush India tot een erkende kernwapenstaat door een verdrag met dat land te tekenen voor nucleaire handel waarbij ook de levering van technologie voor uraniumverrijking en opwerking van gebruikte splijtstof werd toegezegd. Ook Frankrijk en Rusland hebben India deze technologie, waarmee ook kernwapens kunnen worden gemaakt, toegezegd.

Formeel hebben de Verenigde Staten non-proliferatie hoog in het vaandel staan, maar als het gaat om handelsbelangen of geopolitieke belangen wordt de regelgeving wat minder strikt (‘flexibele’ nucleaire handel). Het nodigt China uit om nucleaire handel te drijven met Pakistan, de aartsvijand van India. Waanzin ten top! En de waanzin reikt nog verder: dankzij de Westerse kernwapenstaten en Rusland wordt India straks lid van de Nuclear Suppliers Group. Zo transformeert deze organisatie die kernwapenproliferatie moet bestrijden in een organisatie die de verspreiding van nucleair materiaal juist aanmoedigt. Wereldwijd overeengekomen nucleaire verdragen worden te grabbel gegooid voor de korte termijn winsten en belangen van een klein groepje machthebbers. Daar wordt de wereld niet veiliger van.

Dit artikel verscheen op zaterdag 1 maart in Het Parool