In May 1942 Ernest Lawrence reported in a memo to the National Academy of Sciences that Element 94 (Plutonium) had been studied at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory. Lawrence reported that the natural uranium chain reaction could be used to produce plutonium in a reactor.
1. Common uranium 238 could be used without isotope separation to power reactors
2. The reactors used to make plutonium could be very small.
3. As plutonium could be used as the fuel for an atomic bomb, a second route to the bomb had opened. One which was free of the complication of the slow, expensive and difficult task of uranium isotope separation
(Smyth Report, 4.24 – 4.28
(“Atomic Energy for Military Purposes” (The Smyth Report)
The Official Report on the Development of the Atomic Bomb Under the Auspices of the United States Government
By Henry De Wolf Smyth)
On 2 December 1942 the Chicago Uranium Pile achieved a self sustained chain reaction. The experiment was carried out under the direction of Fermi, assisted by Zinn and Anderson.
The aim of the reactor pile was to establish that a chain reaction could occur in natural uranium, chiefly U 238, so as to produce plutonium for use in an atomic bomb
(Smyth, 6.29 – 6.32)
“In January of 1943, the Manhattan Project got under way at Hanford, Oak Ridge in Tennessee, and Los Alamos, New Mexico. Hanford was chosen as the site where they would make plutonium, a deadly byproduct of the nuclear reaction process and main ingredient of the atomic bomb.
Just 13 months later, Hanford’s first reactor went online.”
the sole purpose of the first reactors -Handord and Oak Ridge – was to make plutonium, created as a result of the fission of uranium in a reactor.
Here is Nagasaki City’s official account of the next set in the construction of the modern military industrial complex:
“At 11.02 a.m. on August 9, 1945, the sky above Nagasaki was filled by a white flash, and all the clocks stopped. A gigantic mushroom-shaped cloud soared up towards the blue sky. What’s going on? What’s happened to everyone? Even now the debris of the magnificent collapsed cathedral, torn clothes and melted bottles silently tell a story. We will continue to relay a message of peace from Nagasaki, a message passed on by the survivors, who overcome great difficulties.
In the hope that the people of the world can join hands and face a future free of nuclear weapons.”
The environmental cost of the Hanford reactor and associated bomb making facility as operated from WW2 through the Cold War, is briefly described:
“During its defense production years, the Hanford Site was under strict military security and never subject to outside oversight. Due to improper disposal methods, like dumping 440 billion gallons of radioactive liquid directly onto the ground, Hanford’s 650 square miles is still considered one of the most toxic places on earth. ”
Under General Groves and then the Atomic Energy Commission, nuclear reactors spread out across America. This was justified in the name of cheap electricity, reactor produced radio-isotopes used in medicine and industry and research.
But throughout the period since 1945, America’s nuclear stockpile grew, aided by the production of plutonium from its reactors.
More and more more nations followed in America’s footsteps. The means of rapidly producing nuclear weapons lies at the heart of nuclear reactors throughout the world.
In the West, these reactors are commonly located near civilian areas.
In 1961 US President gave the following address:
Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960, p. 1035- 1040
My fellow Americans:
Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.
This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.
Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.
Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.
My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.
In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.
We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.
Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.
Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology — global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle — with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research — these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs — balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage — balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.
The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present
* and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.
Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.
Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war — as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years — I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.
So — in this my last good night to you as your President — I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.
You and I — my fellow citizens — need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation’s great goals.
To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing aspiration:
We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love. ”
Israel and the Cold War
Israel was created by UN mandate in 1948:
“Israel was created in 1948, after UN Resolution 181 partitioned the territory of the British Mandate for Palestine into two states for Jews and Palestinian Arabs. The Arabs objected to the creation of the Jewish state and fought a war against it. The Arab side lost the war, and the Palestinian state never really came into being. The territory allotted to the Palestinian state by the UN partition resolution was taken over by Israel and Jordan. About 780,000 Palestinians became refugees.”
The refugee problem persists to this day. Entire generations of families have been born into and died within a situation of statelessness, poverty, and control by foreign powers.
The nations who voted for the creation of the state of Israel seem to me to bear a special responsibility for the resolution of conflict and the imposition of the rule of civil law and equal rights throughout the Occupied and Blockaded Territories.
Nations who voted for the creation of the State of Israel are:
In favour: 33
Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Byelorussian S.S.R., Canada, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, Liberia, Luxemburg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Sweden, Ukrainian S.S.R., Union of South Africa, U.S.A., U.S.S.R., Uruguay, Venezuela.
(UN resolution 181,
Throughout much of the period of modern Israel’s existence a Cold War raged between the Western and Soviet Blocs. Though initially given minimal military support, Israel came to be heavily supported by Western powers.
Many Arab states were supplied and supported by the USSR. The conflicts between Israel and the Arab States thus came to be fought within the context of East – West rivalry. Western criticism of Israel was oftern performed in secret for the sake of National Security in this Cold War setting. This was especially true for events of 1967 and 1973
Conflicts Between Israel and its Nieghbours
The War of Independence (1947-49)
The Sinai Campaign of 1956 (Operation Kadesh)
The Six-Day War (June 1967)
The War of Attrition (1968-70)
The Yom Kippur War (October 1973)
Operation Peace for Galilee (1982)
The Israeli Foreign Ministry does not list the recent excursions into Gaza or wars within Lebanon. It does not list the Intifadas.
Israel sought and obtained the ultimate deterrent. The Dimona nuclear reactor enabled Israel to develop its own nuclear weapons. It has developed its own means of delivering these weapons.
Israel started the construction work at the Dimona site sometimes in early 1958, but it took the United States intelligence community almost three long years to “discover” the site for what it was, namely, a nuclear site under construction. The final “proof” was a testimony came from a human source, Professor Henry Gomberg of the University of Michigan, a nuclear physicist who visited Israel as a consultant to the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC). In his conversations with Israeli officials and scientists he came to the conclusion that Israel was engaged in a vast classified nuclear project, in addition to the Soreq peaceful project. ……….On December 7, 1960, an action on the matter was taken. The State Department summoned Israeli Ambassador and asked Israel for explanation. For the first time Dimona was placed on the table. ” (George Washington University, “Dimona Revealed”,
The discovery of the French assisted Israeli nuclear program by the US and consternation the US expressed in private to the Israelis may have led to two acts of aggression toward the US by Israel.
1. The sinking of the USS Liberty in inernational waters on June 8, 1967. 34 US sailors lost their lives in the air and sea attack. The survivors were sworn to secrecy for 40 years.
2. The firing upon a US SR 71 aircraft which detected the arming of Israeli nuclear missiles in conduct of the October 1973 Yom Kippur War.
“The war began on Oct. 6, the holiest day of the Jewish year, and it was clear to almost all that Israel stood to win, even though at first it didn’t look that way. Egypt’s Second and Third Armies crossed the Suez Canal into the Sinai and Syria attacked the Golan Heights. On Oct. 8, when the Syrian threat grew severe, Defense Minister Moshe Dyan received approval from Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir for Israel to arm 13 of its Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads.
The work went on feverishly for three days and six hours, and when the arming was discovered on Oct. 11 by a U.S. SR-71, which detected the radiation, the Israeli air force ordered the plane to be shot down. But according to former CIA analyst and Middle East expert Russell Warren Howe, the U.S. aircraft escaped. ”
The USSR began shipping theatre nuclear weapons to Egypt in aid of the encircled Egyptian Army and there was at the time a serious threat of limited nuclear exchanges in the MIddle East.
Intense negotiations between the USA, USSR, Israel and the involved Arab states prevented this.
The Federation of American Scientists records that:
“The actual size and composition of Israel’s nuclear stockpile is uncertain and the subject of many – often conflicting – estimates and reports. It is widely reported that Israel had two bombs in 1967, and that Prime Minister Eshkol ordered them armed in Israel’s first nuclear alert during the Six-Day War. It is also reported that, fearing defeat in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Israelis assembled 13 twenty-kiloton atomic bombs.”
“The problem of Israel’s nuclear capability is of grave concern it seems to the USA. The problem may have been the rigger for attack that cost the lives of US sailors engaged in electronic intel work aboard USS Liberty in 1967. The problem also caused an Israeli attack against a US aircraft in 1973.
Further, the Soviet response to the events of 1973 caused the United States to place it’s forces on high alert. Any use of Soviet nuclear weapons of any kind, no matter how limited, would result in US retaliation.
“On 25 October U.S. forces went on Defense Condition (DEFCON) III alert status, as possible intervention by the Soviet Union was feared. On 26 October, CINCSAC and CINCONAD reverted to normal DEFCON status. On 31 October USEUCOM (less the Sixth Fleet) went off DEFCON III status. The Sixth Fleet resumed its normal DEFCON status on 17 November 1973.”
This prompted Leonid Brezhnev to threaten, on 24 October, to airlift Soviet troops to reinforce the Egyptians. Pres. Nixon’s response was to bring the US to world-wide nuclear alert the next day, whereupon Israel went to nuclear alert a second time (according to Hersh, Burrows and Windrem do not recognize this alert). This sudden crisis quickly faded as PM Meir agreed to a ceasefire, relieving the pressure on the Egyptians.”
The presence of Israeli nuclear weapons has not deterred attacks. They may have caused Israel however to twice attack US forces.
Kissinger later stated that Nixon raised the alert level merely for PR purposes. For the troops involved around the world, the alert was real.
Is Dimona another Hanford?
Like Hanford, Dimona is operated in secret and has a primary role of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.
Like the authorities at Hanford, Dimona authorities have issued statement regarding safety at the facility. They deny any contamination has ever occurred. Unlike Handford, there has been no reassementi of these assurances. Such reassessments found Hanford to be in fact “one of the most polluted places on the planet.”
Military secrecy and radiological safety razrely go together:
TEXT OF LETTER OF 24 APRIL 1996 FROM THE PRESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SAUDI ARABIA TO THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY
On behalf of the Arab States Members of the Agency and members of the Board, I wish to express the concern felt by the Arab Governments and peoples at the news and reports concerning the potential danger of leakage of nuclear radiation at the Israeli Dimona
reactor and the hazards of storage and burial of atomic waste in the area of the reactor, for they feel that the continued existence of the nuclear reactor without any real knowledge about the extent of its safety and also the nuclear waste burial sites in the area pose a threat to security, life and the environment.
The following are among the factors that increase the intensity of this concern:
1. Persistence of news and reports, including reports from Israeli sources, about
radiation leakage at the reactor and the nuclear waste burial sites in the area
of the reactor;
2. The reactor is old and has reached the end of its assumed lifetime;
3. The region is subject to earthquakes and earth tremors;
4. Monitoring of radiation leakage into groundwater across the borders will
require a long time before such leakage is detected in the neighbouring States,
making it technically difficult to determine, on the basis of measurements
performed outside Israel’s borders, that there was no accident which might
have devastating consequences in the future.
The continuation of Israeli nuclear activities outside international control does not
provide the least assurance about the nuclear safety of these activities, and there is no doubt that any nuclear accident in Israel will have transboundary effects and give rise to hazards beyond its borders. For this reason, it is necessary that there should be at least a minimum of transparency in the Israeli nuclear activities and that Israel should become a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to a safeguards agreement with the Agency.
It is therefore requested that necessary steps be taken on your part to inform the
Agency’s Member States of the extent of the concern felt by the Arab region as a result of these activities. The Agency is also requested to make contacts with a view to carrying out the necessary technical studies to measure the radiation level at the site of the Dimona reactor and in its neighbourhood and at the nuclear waste burial sites in the area in an endeavour to prevent the potential hazards of nuclear radiation leakage, and to submit a report thereon to
In this connection, I should like to point out that the potential danger from any
nuclear accident would extend beyond the region. The Chernobyl accident and its consequences certainly continue to be a source of concern to the world and illustrate the real importance of nuclear safety.
In view of the urgency and importance of this matter, we hope that necessary steps will be taken without delay, and at the same time we request you to circulate this letter to the Member States of the Agency as an official document.
With kind regards,
(signed) Essa Al-Nowaiser
Dean of the Arab Diplomatic Corps and
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
TEXT OF THE DIRECTOR GENERAL’S REPLY TO THE COMMUNICATION
FROM THE RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SAUDI ARABIA
TO THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 24 April 1996
concerning the Israeli Dimona Reactor. As requested, your letter has been circulated for the information of Member States (INFCIRC/507, 8 May 1996).
As you are aware, the IAEA has been endeavouring to establish internationally
binding legal norms in the field of nuclear safety. The Nuclear Safety Convention relevant to nuclear power reactors has recently been concluded and it is hoped that it will enter into force sometime this year. A Convention on the Safe Management of Radioactive Waste is under active preparation by an international technical and legal group of experts from the
Agency’s Member States. At present the Agency’s role is limited to providing advisory services, facilitating exchange of information and developing safety standards. These standards, which are recommendatory in nature, are not, however, legally binding upon the Member States.
It follows that, unless requested and authorized by a Member State, the
Agency has no legal authority to make radiological measurements within a State or intervene, even in cases of nuclear accidents except with regard to an Agency project.
The Agency has been entrusted with certain responsibilities under the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident. Under the terms of that Convention, Parties to the Convention are obliged to inform the IAEA and potentially affected States, either directly or through the Agency, of a possible or actual transboundary radioactive release that could be of radiological safety significance.
No such notification has been received from Israel, as Party to the Early Notification Convention, relating to the Dimona Research Reactor.
In view of media reports brought to our attention on a leak from the reactor, the
Agency on 4 April 1996 approached the competent authorities in Israel to ask them to comment on these reports. As a consequence of that enquiry, the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission informed the Agency on 12 April 1996 that “The Ministry of the Environment [of Israel] monitors the air, water and ground outside the perimeter of the Nuclear Research Centre Negev (NRCN) and to this day no radioactive leakage endangering the population has been detected. NRCN monitoring inside its perimeter ensures the same results” and that “the
radioactive waste at the NRCN does not endanger the population, the environment and water sources. All the waste is stored safely according to the strictest international criteria and is constantly monitored. No contamination was ever detected”.
Please accept, Sir, the assurances of my highest consideration.
(signed) Hans Blix
State says Dimona reactor is safe; MKs call for investigation
By Gideon Alon, Zafrir Rinat and Ha’aretz Correspondents 2002
The Director of the Ministry, Yitzhak Goren, noted that in 1993-1994, the Minister for the Environment at the time, Yossi Sarid, visited the small crater in the Negev to investigate the issue of radioactive materials. The inspection was carried out with a team of experts from the Weizmann Institute and with the presence of the media.
During the past four years a group of some 50 former workers at the complex are involved in a legal struggle to recognize their suffering of cancer as being the result of their exposure to radioactive emissions at the site.
In a report published five years ago by Hebrew University researchers, during the decades between 1960-1980 there were problems with safety at the complex and in some cases leaks of radiation did occur. The report also states that the conditions improved during the 1980s. Professor Uzi Even from Tel Aviv University says that a big concern revolves around the conditions in which radioactive waste is being stored.
* Published 01:14 14.01.10
* Latest update 10:57 14.01.10
At the Dimona nuclear reactor, employees no longer drink uranium
Special committee of inquiry reprimands researchers who carried out medical experiments on employees.
By Yossi Melman Tags: Dimona Israel news
Last August, Haaretz revealed that workers at the Dimona nuclear reactor had been required to participate in an experiment in which they drank a certain quantity of uranium mixed with juice. Following the publication of that report, Dr. Shaul Horev, the director general of the Atomic Energy Commission, which is in charge of the reactor, appointed a special committee of inquiry to look into the matter.
The committee submitted its findings a week ago to the AEC management. These findings include a recommendation that new and clear procedures stipulating when and how it is permissible to carry out medical experiments on workers be established.