]]]]]]]]]]]]]       NUCLEAR POWER AND THE BOMB      [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ 

     The linkage between nuclear power and nuclear bombs is meant to
scare people and has little or no basis in fact. The only important
link between the two is the hypocrisy of the opponents of both.
     All the elements needed to make TNT are present in chocolate; the
reason why nobody produces high explosives from chocolate, clande-
stinely or otherwise, is that it is so much easier to produce them in
munition factories.
     The same is true for nuclear bombs: it is much easier to produce
them in weapons ("production") reactors. A conventional reactor can-
not be used for producing bombs, and even a breeder reactor cannot be
used for making bombs and generating electricity at the same time.
     No country has ever produced plutonium bombs from a power reac-
tor, for reasons that will be explained in a moment. In particular,
India produced its plutonium bomb in a research-reactor, which had no
way of producing electricity.
     Add to this that plutonium is no longer the easiest material from
which to make an illicit bomb, and you will be able to show that only
dupes are subject to the scare tactics of the Friends Service
     Now for the details.
     First, why can reactor-grade plutonium not be used for making
     Plutonium is made by breeding it from uranium 238, and it is
therefore formed in both the spent fuel rods of a conventional reac-
tor, and in the "blanket" of a breeder reactor. However, this "reactor
grade" plutonium is not usable for bombs because it consists of five
isotopes (same chemical element plutonium, but different physical
weights of their nuclei), and oOnly one of these, Pu 239, is usable for
bombs. The other four (Pu 238, 240, 241, 242) "poison" it -- they
contaminate or "denature" or "spike" the bomb-grade Pu 239. They emit
neutrons spontaneously and cause the explosion, if any,
     (1) to be unpredictable in time,
     (2) to fizzle, since there is no easy way of holding the
subcritical masses together against the force of a nuclear explosion
until the fuel is consumed.
     A bomb of this type would therefore be dangerous to its makers,
but not to many others.
     There are ways of getting round this, but nobody in his right
mind would try them for a very simple reason: It is so much easier to
make smaller and more reliable bombs in at least 8 other ways.
     Yes, I know that the Carter administration exploded a "nuclear
device" in Nevada in the 1970's. Presumably it was itself huge, and
surrounded by all kinds of safety measures because nobody was sure
when it might go off. It proved no more than that you CAN make TNT
from chocolate, and was done for political publicity reasons only.
     As for "bomb-grade" plutonium, it is also bred from uranium 238,
but a number of tricks is used to keep the Pu 239 uncontaminated by
the other isotopes. By far the most important is irradiating the
uranium with neutrons at high intensity for a short time, before the
unwanted isotopes (mainly 240, which forms fastest) start appearing.
To do this in a breeder that is producing electric power at the same
time is not feasible -- it is something like using up a 3 weeks' coal
supply in a power plant in a few hours and still supplying electric
power for 3 weeks (the analogy is valid, but not exact).
     Only the Friends' Service Committee and other antinuclear
scaremongers claim it can be done, and it is very inconsiderate of
them not to share their knowledge with the rest of the world.
     Please note that I am not disputing the (eventual) danger of
illicit bomb making; what I do dispute most vehemently is that the
nuclear power industry is a particularly good place for making them
(or even for concealing their manufacture). Shutting down nuclear
power cannot make the slightest difference to the illicit manufacture
of nuclear bombs.
     But there is a second reason why plutonium bombs somehow made in
the electric power industry are a red herring: in fact, they may soon
be a red herring whether connected with the power industry or
     To see this second reason, please walk up to the next floor of
Fort Freedom's Power Plant.

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