GNEP: Good for Terrorists

I could go on and on a bout why no nukes is good nukes but these folks at the Oxford Research Group (celebrating their silver anniversary) are very articulate so I’ll let them have the floor. From Too Hot to Handle? The Future of Civil Nuclear Power

Richard L. Garwin, IBM Fellow Emeritus and an expert in nuclear-weapon technology, argues that
the new reprocessing scheme proposed in GNEP would make it easier for terrorists to acquire
fissile material needed to fabricate nuclear weapons. Reprocessing was abandoned not only
because of the increased risk of nuclear proliferation but also because it was too expensive to
make commercial sense.

Garwin argues that, far from being proliferation resistant, GNEP makes it easier for terrorists
to acquire nuclear material suitable for fabricating nuclear weapons. He points out that: “To obtain
10 kg of plutonium from ordinary Pressurised Water Reactor spent fuel containing 1% plutonium,
a terrorist would need to acquire and reprocess 1000 kg of highly radioactive material.”

Under GNEP: “the plutonium will be contaminated only with a modest amount of transuranics (TRU)
so that the terrorist would need to reprocess a mere 11 kg of material, and according to
recent Department of Energy (DOE) studies, this would have only about 1/2000 of the
penetrating radiation that would count as ‘self protecting’.” Spent nuclear-power reactor fuel,
however, is so radioactive that it is self-protecting and cannot be handled without
remote-handling equipment.


So, uh, ya, the PM didn’t really do his homework on this one, did  he?  Or did he?

Thanks to World Report for the lead.

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