Towards Nuclear Weapons Capability for All?
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Towards Nuclear Weapons Capability for All? A Presentation by Henry Sokolski The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center Given before a forum by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Senate Dirksen Office Building, Room 562 Washington, DC June 23, 2008.

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Towards Nuclear Weapons Capability for All?A Presentation byHenry Sokolski The Nonproliferation Policy Education

Given before a forum by

the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Senate Dirksen Office Building, Room 562

Washington, DC

June 23, 2008

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Current Proliferation Seems Manageable States(With DPRK Disarming and Iran Nonnuclear)

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But at Least 18 States Since 2006 Have Announced Plans to Build Large, “Peaceful” Nuclear Reactors by 2020#

  • Turkey (US, France)

  • Egypt (US, Fr. China) +

  • S. Arabia, (Fr., US, Rus.)* +

  • UAE (France, US)

  • Yemen

  • Morocco (France)

  • Jordan (US, France)

  • Libya (US, France)

  • Algeria (Rus., Fr. US) +

  • Applauded by Israeli officials as an “announcement directed against Iran”

    + Possibly interested in developing a nuclear weapons option

    ( ) Countries that have initialed or are discussing nuclear cooperation to build power reactors

    # 31 states currently operate power reactors

  • Qatar (France)

  • Tunisia (France)

  • Syria (DPRK?)+

  • Indonesia (RoK)

  • Bangladesh (Russia)

  • Nigeria

  • Vietnam (Russia)

  • Australia

  • Israel

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Countries With Declared Civilian Programs that Have Toyed with Nuclear Weapons Programs in the Past

Reactors OnlyReactors and Fuel Making

  • Taiwan+ o Iran

  • South Korea+ o Brazil

  • Algeria o Argentina

  • Iraq+ o India*+

  • Egypt o France*+

  • Israel*+ o South Africa*

  • Sweden+

  • Italy

    + Known to have dedicated known “civilian” reactors to weapons program

    *actually acquired nuclear weapons

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6 with Nuclear Weapons Programs in the Past































I. 2030

II. 2030 – Expanded Capacity II. 2030 – New Capacity

III. 2050 – Expanded CapacityIII. 2050 – New Capacity

2030 – 2050 Power Reactor Projections

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Small, Covert Reprocessing Plant Can Make 20 or More Bombs/Month (e.g., Ferguson-Culler) from Spent Fuel10-day startup, 1 bomb’s-worth-a-day production rate

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IAEA Has Yet to Detect Military Efforts/Diversions in NPT States in a Timely Manner (Mirroring US Intelligence)

  • Natanz

  • Iraqi EMIS

  • Libyan centrifuges

  • Syrian production reactor

  • Early North Korean reprocessing campaigns

  • North Korean uranium enrichment efforts

  • Taiwanese hot cell activities

  • RoK weapons efforts

  • Algerian fuel diversions

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Fresh Fuel’s A Worry Too States in a Timely Manner (Mirroring US Intelligence)

  • 4,000 swus required to convert natural uranium into one bomb’s worth (20 kgs) of HEU

  • 700 swus – 1/5th the effort or time – is required to convert 3.5% fresh LEU fuel to one bomb’s worth (with 3,000 P-1 centrifuges this could reduce the time Iran needs to make its first bomb down to as little as 4 to 13 weeks)

  • ~20 tons of fresh LWR fuel is brought every 12-18 months and loaded in the reactor over a period of weeks.

  • Crushing, heating, and fluorinating the ceramic fresh fuel pellets is all that needed to get 3-4% enriched UF6 feed

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Finally, LWRs Projects Have Been Used to Cover Nuclear Weapons Activities

  • Bushehr now has 1,300 Russian technicians and this number is about to double. What else might they be doing?

  • India feared to have transferred tritium extraction technology useful for nuclear weapons “boosting” on a “safety” assistance visit to Bushehr

  • Hundreds of Iranians trained in Russia and elsewhere on the entire fuel cycle

  • Bushehr used as a procurement cover for other weapons-related nuclear projects (enrichment, HWR, etc.)

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Limiting Damage in the Middle East: Bombing Civilian Reactors for Peace

  • 1980 Iran bombs Iraq’s “peaceful” IAEA- safeguarded large research Osirak reactor

  • 1981 Israel bombs Osirak

  • 1985-88 Iraq bomb’s Iran’s “civilian” IAEA-safe-guarded Bushehr power reactor 7 separate times

  • 1991 US bombs Osirak

  • 1991 Iraq fires Scud against Dimona, what Israel claims is a “electricity generating” reactor

  • 2007 Israel bombs Syrian undeclared reactor

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Not Unless They Are Upgraded Nuclear Fuel Diversions?

  • Of IAEA’s ~1,200 remote nuclear inspection cameras, nearly 800 still have no near-real-time feedback. Virtually all of the countries of concern have no near-real-time feedback

  • IAEA internal review of May 2005 found in that “Over the past 6 years, there have been 12 occasions when facility lights were turned off for a period greater than 30 hours” See

  • Of those ~ 400 IAEA cameras that have near-time feedback today, many depend on internet connections that can be interrupted

  • US State Dept. officials requested NPEC self-censor 2 scenarios for spent fuel rod diversions scenarios that could evade IAEA detection entirely. Similar scenarios, it turns out, were described elsewhere on the web by IAEA’s own Safeguards advisory group chairman. See

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Also Too Hard: Keeping Track of Declared Nuclear Fuel Making

  • Sellafield (Euratom safeguards meeting IAEA criteria)

    • 29.6 kgs pu MUF (Feb. 2005)

    • 190 kgs pu in “leak” undetected for 8 months

  • Tokia Mura

    • MoX, 69 kgs pu MUF (l994)

    • scrap 100-150 kgs pu MUF (1996)

    • Pilot reprocessing 206kgs – 59 kgs pu MUF (2003)

    • Commercial reprocessing 246 kgs/yr pu MUF (2008?)

  • Cogema-Cadarache reprocessing plant

    • Euratom report 2002, “unacceptable amount of MUF”, 2 yrs to resolve

  • Similar MUF challenges at centrifuge enrichment plants see

  • No Country-specific listing of MAF (material accounted for)

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Where We’re Headed Assuming Current Safeguards and a Presumed per se Right to Any Nuclear Technology

“The regime will not be sustainable if scores more States Develop the most sensitive phases of the fuel cycle and are equipped with the technology to produce nuclear weapons on short notice – and, of course, each individual State which does this only will leave others to feel that they must do the same. This would increase all of the risks – of nuclear accident, of trafficking, of terrorist use, and of use by states themselves.” – The Secretary – General of the United Nations, NPT Review Conference, May 2, 2005

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Recommendation 1: Presumed Reform the IAEA

  • Make near-real time surveillance mandatory

  • Increase safeguards funding by creating an inspections user fee

  • Encourage the IAEA to distinguish between what it can safeguard and what it can only monitor

  • Stop insisting that states have a right to unsafeguardable, unprofitable dangerous nuclear technology and materials -- e.g., nuclear fuel making

  • Adopt automatic, country-neutral sanctions in the IAEA for IAEA/NPT violators

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Recommendation Two Presumed : Stop Fighting God’s Invisible Hand

No private bank has yet chosen to fully finance a new nuclear reactor build

No private insurer has yet chosen to insure a nuclear plant against third party off site damages

Every government where nuclear plants operate have already heavily subsidized these plants’ construction and operation

Now states want to increase current subsidies through proposed clean energy slush funds, international financial institutional loans, loan guarantees, insurance caps, tax credits, construction delay insurance, etc.

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Whatever Else We Do, We Should Not Spend More To Compound Our Nuclear Proliferation Headaches

  • Nothing says we must. Title V of the NNPA, sound market economics, the rules of the EU, the principles of the Global Charter on Sustainable Energy Development, and the Energy Charter Treaty, all suggest we shouldn’t.

  • NPT was designed to encourage the sharing of the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy, not to promote money losing endeavors that bring states to edge of making bombs

  • Follow-on to Kyoto Protocol should take an active interest in reducing carbon in the quickest, cheapest ways. This will require identifying full financial and environmental costs of each energy option and openly competing them in international bidding to find the cleanest, quickest, lowest cost energy solutions