The White House and Secretary Kerry, in announcing the non-deal with Iran, alleged that the Plutonium reactor at Arak will be resigned so it cannot produce nuclear-grade weapons, however, Iran appears to have only agreed to producing less Plutonium. The reactor will still be able to produce nuclear-grade weapons.
Two types of radioactive material can be used to manufacture a nuclear bomb, Uranium and Plutonium. U-235 is the isotope that is needed to fuel reactors and make bombs. Raw Uranium contains less than 1% of U-235. Centrifuges enrich the raw Uranium to separate the U-235.
During the nuclear deal talks, Iran developed a process to make the centrifuges spin 16 times faster than before. Why?
Plutonium is made by irradiating Uranium in a nuclear reactor.
Iran has been building a heavy water Plutonium reactor at Arak to produce Pu-239, the type of Plutonium that can be used to make bombs.
In November 2013, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius expressed his concerns over the Plutonium reactor at Arak, telling the French newspaper Le Monde that “Arak, the most proliferation-prone facility, the one producing the most plutonium, is not necessary for civilian use. But once it goes online, we cannot destroy it.”
Plutonium reactors can produce weapons far faster than Uranium reactors.
Arak, once complete, could hold about 50 kilograms of weapons-usable plutonium (enough for about six nuclear weapons, based on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s estimate that a nuclear weapon.). The reactor would become virtually indestructible once it becomes operational.
As former Israeli chief of military intelligence Amos Yaldim said, “Whoever considers attacking an active reactor is willing to invite another Chernobyl, and no one wants to do that.”
Early last year, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said that his country could “do some design change.” This design change would allow the reactor to “produce less plutonium,” he said, which would “allay the worries and mitigate the concerns.”
On September 19th, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said much the same thing.
This non-deal somewhat agreed to by Iran last week does not take the reactor off-line which is the only acceptable solution. Whether it’s heavy water or light, it will still be capable of producing nuclear weapons. All the rest is foofoo dust.
Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking immediately after the non-deal was announced, said that all pathways to the bomb have been cut off, including the heavy water reactor at Arak. The heavy water reactor will be modernized, he said. He’s just not telling the truth.
The State Department fact sheet, not agreed to by Iran, says the same thing that Kerry is saying.
Former Ambassador Bolton addressed the misinformation on Friday. “The fact sheet from the White House says that the redesigned heavy water reactor will not produce weapons-grade Plutonium. Now I’m not a nuclear physicist, but it’s my understanding that any fissile reaction of Uranium in a controlled environment like a reactor produces Plutonium that is weapons-grade – Plutonium 239. You can have more or less of it. You can have heavy versus light water reactors, but it produces weapons-type Plutonium.”
Bolton would like “an explanation from the State Department how they are going to avoid that”.
He also asked, “Is there any other reactor like that in operation today?”
I’d like the answer to that, but we know what the answer is.