[ RadSafe ] MIT nuclear study stirs controversy Most weapon countries produced nuclear weapons before setting up Nuclear power reactors

parthasarathy k s ksparth at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Sep 23 10:10:43 CDT 2010

Dear Ahmad,

We are going out of "Radsafe" territory. So far I stuck resolutely to the 
"territory". Now that I made one statement which drags me to a controversy I 
would like to avoid. 

I believe that future of nuclear power,  policy on spent fuel management , once 
through fuel cycle or closed fuel cycle etc are irretrievably linked with   
radiation safety topics (safe management of radioactive waste for instance).

I hope what I meant in my earlier statement will be clear from the following:

When USA tested its first nuclear weapon in July 1945, there was no nuclear 
power reactor under operation in USA or any where else in the world. The 
technology development for power production was, if it existed at all, very 
primitive. USA used two nuclear weapons one based on plutonium and other or 
enriched uranium in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. 

China's  nuclear power technology was nonexistent when it tested its nuclear 
device in 1964 and went on accumulating nuclear and thermonuclear warheads.

In October 1952, when UK became the third nuclear weapon power, they did not 
have any operating nuclear power reactor.

France did not have any nuclear power reactor when it tested its nuclear weapon 
in 1960. Russia tested its weapon in 1949; then they did not have a nuclear 
power reactor.

India had two BWRs (purchased on a turnkey basis from USA in 1969) and one PHWR 
based on Canadian support in 1973 were operating when India carried out its  
"Peaceful Nuclear Experiment". When India claimed nuclear weapon power status in 
1998 it had ten nuclear power reactors operating. North Korea tested a nuclear 
device, they do not have any nuclear power station

If a country chooses to go nuclear through enriched uranium route, they need not 
have a plutonium producing reactor and fuel reprocessing facilities.

One can go on arguing on cost factor etc; it is reported that enriched uranium 
production through improved designs of centrifuges has brought down the cost. 
Iran is following this route. Iran is not able to convince the world about its 
true intentions. 

Countries should agree to universal disarmament in its complete sense; probably 
then we may be able to arrest the growth of nuclear weapons. Any other measures 
will be insincere, discriminatory and hence not defendable


From: Ahmad Al-Ani <ahmadalanimail at yahoo.com>
To: radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu; powernet at hps1.org
Sent: Thu, 23 September, 2010 15:57:01
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] MIT nuclear study stirs controversy Thank you for the 

Parthasarathy, can you please elaborate further on your following statement?

"No country has to go through the nuclear power route to produce nuclear 

Many misled or word twister journalists and politicians are drumming up for 
military actions against nuclear power facilities in Iran. Perhaps it is our 
responsibility as scientists to clarify the connection, or the lack of it.


On Thu, 23 Sep 2010 09:45 AST parthasarathy k s wrote:

>Dear  Sandy
>Thank you for the good summary on the developments in the policy on spent fuel 
>Else where,  we noted that South Africa has fully withdrawn its support to PBMR. 
>Clearly economic consideration prevailed. So long as possession of nuclear 
>warheads remains the monopoly of a few, total nuclear disarmament will be a 
>distant dream. No country has to go through the nuclear power route to produce 
>nuclear weapons!
>Fresh thinking on acceptable fuel cycle strategy is desirable. After all the 
>present development from nuclear submarine reactors to PWRs, BWRs etc was not 
>logical. It was not dictated on the basis of any specific strategy.
>India chose closed fuel cycle with a three stage power programme as the ore 
>grade of the uranium resources in India at 0.06 % was very low. Nuclear power 
>costing may be  arguably very dicy. The fast reactor- enthusiasts in India 
>believe that power from breeder will be comparable to the PHWRs of that time. 
>If the development of breeder reactors is tied on to economics, progress will be 
>insignificant as universally available natural uranium sources can feed the 
>conventional nuclear power programme for the next 100 years 
>From: "Perle, Sandy" <SPerle at mirion.com>
>To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List 
><radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu>; "powernet at hps1.org" <powernet at hps1.org>
>Sent: Thu, 23 September, 2010 2:58:29
>Subject: [ RadSafe ] MIT nuclear study stirs controversy
>MIT nuclear study stirs controversy
>September 22, 2010
>The commercial development of spent fuel reprocessing and fast reactors by other 
>nations will leave the U.S. behind
>An MIT study finds no shortage of uranium for nuclear energy, but recommends 
>against recycling spent nuclear fuel. Instead, scientists at the prestigious 
>university call for a sustained R&D program worth nearly $700 million a year. 
>That's some sandbox.
>Meanwhile, David Jones, Vice President of Used Fuel Management at Areva, argues 

>that recycling spent nuclear fuel is a proven solution that is cost competitive 

>and reduces proliferation concerns.
>And Stephen Turner, an  expert on spent nuclear fuel, told this blog Sept 21 
>U.S. private industry will not wait for the U.S. government to make up its mind. 
>Speaking at the annual meeting of the National Fabrication Consortium held in 
>Cleveland, he said:
>"These firms have developed the business case for spent fuel reprocessing. They 

>will pull the pin when the market is ready."
>Confirming Turner's view, Areva's Jones told this blog the firm wants to build 
>an 800 ton/year plant.
>Conservative is not a challenge
>The MIT study claims to "challenge conventional assumptions" about nuclear 
>energy, but, in fact, it is very conservative in its findings. It says the U.S. 

>is in no hurry to solve the problem of disposal of high level radioactive waste 

>nor should it rush into investments in fast reactors. It recommends against any 

>investment in recycling spent nuclear  fuel.
>Studies like this hit the desks of policy makers in Washington, like the current 
>Blue Ribbon Commission, with a big impact. The reason is they are filling a 
>vacuum created by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who shot down the 
>Yucca Mountain project as the price for his support of the Obama 
>Administration's legislative initiatives. As a result there is no policy for 
>spent fuel in Washington.
>Getting back to the wide-ranging recommendations of the report, it addresses 
>economics, current and future fuel cycles, waste management, nonproliferation, 
>and an ambitious R&D program. Highlights include:
>Eliminate financial risk premiums for 7-10 new reactors to keep the price under 

>$4,000/kw. Once they are built, assuming they come in on time/budget, future 
>reactors will be cost competitive with coal and natural gas.
>Keep the  once-through fuel cycle using LWR reactors for the rest of this 
>Develop a central disposal site for spent nuclear fuel with a transition period 

>of 50-100 years. Establish a quasi-government firm to take over management of 
>spent fuel.
>Invest in R&D at the rate of $700 million/year for up to 50 years to determine 
>if fast reactors, or anything else, can be designed that make economic sense.
>Where has the U.S. been the past 20 years?
>Charles Forsberg, one of the scientists on the MIT team, said in a statement 
>there has been very little research on the fuel cycle for the past 30 years. 
>Considering that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry led the effort in the Senate 
>to close out funding for the Integral Fast Reactor, that remark shouldn't be a 
>surprise to anyone.
>Ernest Moniz, another member of the MIT panel, was an  Undersecretary at the 
>Department of Energy during the Clinton administration. Then and now his primary 
>concern is getting more of the total inventory of plutonium out of circulation. 

>His overarching focus on nonproliferation drives an almost unreasonable approach 
>to options to manufacture MOX fuel and develop fast reactors. The reason, he 
>says, is that these methods do nothing to reduce total plutonium in the fuel 
>Well, once you decide that's all you're going to do, the rest become easy. In 
>fact, the MOX fuel plant being built in South Carolina will take 34 tons of 
>plutonium out of circulation and put it to good use in conventional LWRs. 
>Worldwide, almost three dozen reactors burn MOX fuel.
>Areva has a different idea
>David Jones, an Areva executive with a long career in spent fuel management for 

>nuclear utilities, said on a  conference call with nuclear bloggers last week 
>MIT recommendations do not support a sustainable nuclear fuel cycle approach 
>that supports nuclear growth scenarios.
>He is critical of MIT's focus on an R&D plan instead of an action plan.
>"This is contrary to what is being done in nearly every other country where this 
>question is addressed up front as a matter of policy."
>He told the bloggers the report also recommends the U.S. offer fuel leasing to 
>other countries, but seems to fail to recognize the credibility issue of this 
>"How can we expect to demonstrate leadership to the world on used fuel 
>management when we cannot decide ourselves if used fuel is a waste or a 
>Why are other nations recycling their fuel? Jones says economics isn't the only 

>"The motivations of other nations, such as France, Japan  and the United 
>to recycle are not purely economic but also are informed by questions of energy 

>security, resource conservation, public acceptance and others that reside in the 
>social sciences."
>Jones closed his comments by noting that once again the U.S. has its head in the 
>"Every nation with a significant nuclear power sector, with the exception of the 
>United States, has embraced recycling."
>Separately, speaking in Vienna, Austria, at a 9/20 IAEA meeting, U.S. Energy 
>Secretary Chu called for development of an international fuel bank. Assuming the 
>IAEA administers the fuel bank, and retrogrades the spent fuel from customers, 
>it's an easy bet it won't come back to the U.S., at least not while MIT's report 
>holds sway at the Blue Ribbon Commission.
>Sander C.  Perle
>Mirion Technologies
>Dosimetry Services Division
>2652 McGaw Avenue
>Irvine, CA 92614
>+1 (949) 296-2306 (Office)
>+1 (949) 296-1130 (Fax)
>Mirion Technologies: http://www.mirion.com/
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