Bombs and Bull-shit

Haretz:“The nuclear reactor at Arak is scheduled to become active, according to the Iranian reports to IAEA in early 2014 and is claimed by Tehran to be for civilian purposes. The use of heavy water in a nuclear reactor would enable Iran to produce the isotope Plutonium-239 which is the main fissile component of most nuclear bombs in existence around the world.”
see Iran pursuing nuclear bomb through plutonium production, new satellite images reveal – Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper.

Give us a break from the propaganda, please. Canada uses heavy water in its nuclear reactors. Are you going to bomb us too?

Heavy water is just water containing hydrogen in the form of a heavier isotope, deuterium, which contains an extra neutron. It is a great moderator for fast neutrons from nuclear fission because of the high probability of a hard collision when a neutron zips through the molecule. In the collision, the energy of the fast neutron is shared well with the deuterium thus slowing the fast neutron so it’s more effective at triggering further collisions in the chain reaction. So, heavy water is not about producing plutonium but about facilitating nuclear chain reactions in fission. Deuterium is also useful in nuclear physics experiments and producing fluxes of really slow neutrons for all kinds of purposes. Plutonium is a by-product of any uranium fisssion reactor where U238 is present. In fact, enriching uranium implies reducing the concentration of U238 in favour of U235 actually reducing the production of plutonium. So, Haretz is just spreading more FUD when it suggests readers should be worried about heavy water.

Heavy hydrogen is naturally occurring and concentration may be increased by many physical and chemical processes including evaporation/distillation and electrolysis. It’s ancient technology from the 1930s.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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21 Responses to Bombs and Bull-shit

  1. ram says:

    Like any country is really going to put up their nuclear energy and weapons research on the Internet !?!

  2. oiaohm says:

    ram reality I could post 5 links and have the filter here possible hold up my post or post one wikipedia link that contains them all.

    Reality posting a wikipedia link does not mean a person does not know the topic. Read the wikipedia page and see where I get that HIFAR was using 95% U-235 rods.

    Guess what wikipedia does not tell you the rod information using the links from the wikipedia does to a point. I also did not notice that the HIFAR link from wikipedia is broken someone put a l on end.

    Sorry ram my information is not from the wikipedia. The information is from ANSTO. Just the wikipedia page was a good point of ANSTO links.

  3. ram says:

    Do you really thing you are going to find anything meaningful on nuclear research programs in Wikipedia?

    I stand by my earlier comment.

  4. oiaohm says:

    ram mind you Australia is in the lucky location due to the fact we don’t use many reactors and a nice ore supply. The older HIFAR 95% pure U-235 rods. Manhatten Project grade rods. So yes the same grade as what was used flatten japan in two spots.

    Current day rods are 20% U-235 and at times U-235 and U-238 mixed rods.

    Australia Opal’s design does allow for running on Plutonium-239 if have to.

    Ram what Opal is design to be able handle and what it is made handle are two different things. Yes Opal could be used to make weapon grade materials.

    Size of plant making volumes of Weapon grade materials would be hard but not impossible.

    If you looked at Opal Design and asked if it could make weapon materials the answer is yes.

    When you look at how its fuelled and used most of the time the answer is most likely it will never produce any volume of weapon grade material in its complete operational life.

    ram this is the big problem. A reactor is like a knife. You can use it for valid reasons or you can kill someone with it by refining the products produced.

    Management of a reactor defines it threat. Yes how you fuel it. When you remove fuel what happens to spent fuel. Like Plutonium-239 from spent rods can be mixed into future rods so none collect to be made into weapons.

    ram before opal here in australia U-238 was not used in the reactor at all. Maybe you are slightly out of date. ie 2007 on. It what you call cost cutting. U-238 is cheaper.

  5. oiaohm says:

    ram desperate much. I do know quite a bit about the different systems and different experiments currently under-way. I did visit this one while it was in operation and I have visited its replacement Opal.

    Ram if you want to admit or not the current operational reactors for medical, industrial, scientific and mining production of radioactive products are heavy water based reactors. Yes the new Opal reactor in Australia also heavy water.

    Australia has no operational light water reactors.

    That is the problem. To rapid make Plutonium-239 and U-233 for weapons you want to perform rapid isotope alteration/production. For medical, industrial, scientific and mining you want to perform the same thing just on different materials.

    All techs its double sided. Australia usage of designs based off breeder reactors designs. Is not a threat to make nuke weapons. Size of the Australian reactors is quite small.

    As I say Opal is a heavy water reactor. It is the only reactor running full time in Australia. Production of Heavy water does not mean you are going to make arms. Heavy water reactors have usages out side arms production. Just they can be used for arms production.

    ram there are quite a few heavy water reactors around the world using uranium 238 that no material from the will ever go into a weapon.
    Ram some how by your stupid arguement I would believe you have never been at Opal or its predecessor.

  6. ram says:

    oiaohm, you know NOTHING of Australia’s nuclear science program. NOTHING!

  7. oiaohm says:

    Natural ratios of the uranium ore basically world wide.
    uranium-238 (99.2739%), uranium-235 (0.7205%) and a very low percentage of uranium-234 (0.0056%).
    Dr Loser so basically
    –U-235 and even U-233 are perfectly suitable for fuel in a nuclear reactor.–
    U-235 is rare naturally. So for every 1 rod of U-235 you can get from ore you have 100 uranium 238 rods to play with. So a pure U-235 reactor is not viable Dr Loser. The waste is too huge.

    U-233 you have to manufacture does not appear naturally at all. You have to have thorium-232 ore to produce this and a nice source of neturons.

    Yes Iran has thorium 232 but to convert this to U-233 effectively you are back to building a breeder heavy water reactor style. So the the free neutrons from the U-233 have the most chance of hitting the Thorium 232 and converting it to U-233 so keeping reaction going.

    U-233 is not natural. Thorium series in natural break down never produces U-233. U-233 Thorium 232 has to be hit by a high energy neutron. That you will normally only see inside a reactor of some form.

    –Do please demonstrate the process whereby deuterium or tritium may be converted, even in trace elements, into Pu-239. You might even win a Nobel Prize for that.–
    This is because you are a idiot. Using heavy water reactor containment is the same as difference between burning a fire in the open(light water) and in a firebox(heavy water). One is releasing/absorbing the energy and one is containing the energy. The one that contains is vastly more effective at producing new elements.

    Light water the neutrons are not reflected back as much instead the Light Water slowly turns heavy. Light water acts as a nuclear reaction dampener due to absorbing neutrons. Light hydrogen will accept a neutrons.

    Heavy water prevents radiation escape. So sending more neutrons back threw the radioactive material so generating new atom types faster.

    U-233 type thorium-232 fuel using reactor. light water. You need U-235 rare so problematic. So you well normally put some U-238 to make up for how hard U-235 is to get and make some Pu-239 for a light water form of this. This is mostly due to neutron lost to the light water. Basically once a neutron is bound to the hydrogen in light water its not coming back to convert 232 to U-233 to keep reaction going.

    If you wish to make a thorium 232 heavy water reactor. Small amount of U-235 or Pu-239 to get reaction going. Then you can basically use the U-233 break down to convert more thorium-232.

    You need more neutrons to keep reaction going in a light water reactor. Yes a light water reactor has less risk of runaway than a heavy water. Everything is a double sided sword.

    U-238 is the dominate material you find naturally. If you are building light water reactors you will end up using U-238 to bulk up U-235 and to be effective you have some thorium in there as well.

    So Light water reactors are a god darn mess of required materials. Yes the reason why light waters are likes is there lower risk of exploding. Not because they are effective at making materials.

    Thorium U-233 line more energy output than the complete normal uranium line. But is very much like C4 compared to Gun powder. C4 you need a way more powerful detonator to make it work. Thorium you need a better source of neutrons or make as much use of the release neutrons as able.

    Dr Loser also U-233 is Nuclear weapon warhead material.
    In fact it a higher yield warhead than using Plutonium-239.

    U-235 that is this not much of is small bang nuke.
    Plutonium-239 that is made from U238 is fairly large bang nuke.
    U-233 that you said you could make reactors from is very big bang nuke. On level of fear someone producing U-233 is more of a worry than someone producing Plutonium-239.

    None of the materials you are mentioning have not been used in nuclear weapon warheads at some point and prove effective.

    Manhatten Project is U-235 and what was dropped on Japan. Effective enough to level cities.

    Heavy water is also used in Nuclear weapon warheads. To have fission and fusion in the same warhead.

    I will restate.
    –There is no nuclear reactor doing fission you can build that does not either require or produce the material to make a nuclear weapon.–
    I will add one bit from naturally acquirable materials.

    Problem is no matter what path Iran goes they can be accused of making nuclear weapons.

    Hamster, what makes you believe that a bunch of clerical totalitarian fascists with a stated belief in the annihilation of a nearby country can be trusted with a program that is very, very, very, very clearly designed with no other end than to produce a nuclear bomb?

    Number 1 there is no evidence that the nuclear program of Iran goal is to produce a nuclear bomb. Everything they are reported doing could be for a peaceful power plant program. The weapon claims are based on the materials possible use as weapons. No any hard facts that the materials will be going to weapons.

    Number 2 even that by UN charters Iran is allowed so many chemical weapons for self defence yet they have none. Weapons of mass killing go against Iran clerics ideas. How do you make sure mass killing weapons only hit the enemy.
    –On ideological grounds, a public and categorical religious decree (fatwa) against the development, production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons has been issued by the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic Ali Khamenei along with other clerics–

    Dr Loser this is very solid. Disobeying a Fatwa in Iran is death. Yes this Fatwa forbids making, store or using nuclear weapons. This also covers dirty bombs.

    If you can prove that someone in Iran has the goal of making nuclear weapon you can have them put to death by the Iran rules.

    Dr Loser its against there own laws to make a nuclear weapon. It does not matter how high of an official. Heck its against there own rules to make or have a chemical, biological, cluster bombs or mines weapons. Because all of those can hit the bystanders.

    For bunch of clerical totalitarian fascists there list of forbid weapons make the UN weapon rules look soft. If you do have any of these weapons they will kill you then dispose them.

    Dr Loser anyone who knows the Iran rules would say most likely the best thing we could do is assist them with the power plant program. To provide good material tracking. If we find someone doing the wrong thing while assisting them they will not live long.

    I don’t call Iran an angel. Even the most evil country can possibly get something right. In Iran case they are very worried about weapons civilian impacts.

    For Iran to make a nuke is a breach of their faith.

    Other thing that is strange. Iran has not been working on a delivery system. North Korea I am more worried about. There is no faith to block them use it and they are working on a delivery system.

    Due to Iran not having chemical or biological weapons they have no rockets large enough to carry a nuke. Only way Iran could get a nuke to Israel is either drive or fly normal aircraft.

    Threat level Iran to Israel by nuke basically zero.

    Dr Loser really that is the final point what point is a nuke bomb if you cannot do delivery. The lack of delivery systems is the biggest sign of lack of interest in truly attacking Israel with it.

  8. Dr Loser says:

    light water reactor yes does not produce Plutonium-239 effectively. But has a shorter operational life.

    And you, Hamster, are calling me a “F-whit?”

    (I don’t have the faintest clue what you mean by that, although I’ll take a stab at “F*wit.”)

    That would be a heavy water reactor, and the modifier “effectively” is redundant.

    Do please demonstrate the process whereby deuterium or tritium may be converted, even in trace elements, into Pu-239. You might even win a Nobel Prize for that.

    If they have a Nobel Prize for Self-Demonstrated Idiots.

    And yes, I am well aware that the decay of U-238 leads to Pu-239. What of it? My understanding (limited as it is, and here I deferred to Robert, who is an expert and not a bushwhacker like you) is that U-235 and even U-233 are perfectly suitable for fuel in a nuclear reactor. The USA and the UK and for all I know France and Russia persisted with the myth that Pu-239 was a good thing here, simply because it’s bloody useful for making bombs with.

    Leaving aside the bizarre notion that Iran is so utterly bereft of alternative sources of energy, and has such a huge surplus of national wealth that it can afford to dick around with nuclear power plants …

    … leaving that little detail aside, Hamster, what makes you believe that a bunch of clerical totalitarian fascists with a stated belief in the annihilation of a nearby country can be trusted with a program that is very, very, very, very clearly designed with no other end than to produce a nuclear bomb?

    I mean, let’s be honest about that. A nuclear bomb is what they want. They’re probably apocalyptic enough to invite Israel to bomb them first, but perhaps I’m being unfair.

    You can defend them by calling it “national pride.”
    You can probably find other defences.

    But wittering on about heavy water, Hamster, doesn’t really make any sense, even by your standards.

  9. oiaohm says:

    This the fun of nuke weapons.

    uranium-235 what you need to make a light water reactor is the same material you need to make Manhatten Project style nuke.

    If you have uranium-238 and a breeder reactor you get the material to make a Plutonium style nuke.

    There is no nuclear reactor doing fission you can build that does not either require or produce the material to make a nuclear weapon.

  10. lightpriest says:

    I used to think that, but I don’t know if any future could be guaranteed. With that logic, withdrawing from the Gaza strip should have guaranteed the safety of the surrounding cities, but that wasn’t (and still isn’t) the case.

    I couldn’t agree more that the current situation does a great “service” to the right-wing parties, it’s no secret that it also serves and strengthens Hammas.

  11. lightpriest wrote, “They actually failed in every advanced war technology, so why would they succeed in building a nuclear bomb?”

    The thing about nuclear is this. If it could be done with the state of science and technology in the 1940s any Al Qaeda bomb-maker with a nephew knowing a bit of physics could do it these days if they had the material. Iran is doing something to obtain the material…

    The Manhatten Project developed two methods, one like a cannon and one like a smoothly collapsed hollow sphere. The cannon thingy is pretty easy for someone with some steel and conventional gun-propellant. U235 will work in that. The sphere thingy can be made by anyone with a lot of patience, knowledge of geometry and TNT. The Iranians don’t need anything fancy to threaten Israel or anything else. Even a conventional bomb dispersing nasty stuff would do. I used to work with particle accelerators. Nasty stuff can be made for 1/10000th the cost of a fission bomb. The iron dome has only to let in a few rockets to do severe damage.

    I don’t know whether or not Iran intends to play “chicken”. I would bet Israel’s future could be guaranteed if they would agree to withdraw from occupied territory. I suspect Israel’s rulers find it useful to be constantly at war.

  12. lightpriest says:

    Haaretz is just playing its role in the Israeli media, they cannot ignore the FUD on the Iranian “plans”.
    Haaretz is considered a left-wing or centre-left liberal newspaper at best, but they cannot ignore the mass FUD that the other Israeli media is spreading.

    A few things.

    For about 15 years, the right-wing parties in Israel are claiming that “in 2-4 years Iran will be nuclear”. Searching for news with the keywords “Iran” and “Nuclear” reveals articles like this one (from 2000): (Iran will have nuclear weapons by 2005).
    There’s another statement like this that said that by summer 2012, Iran will have a nuclear weapon.

    Putting that aside, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad openly called for the annihilation of Israel more than once. Pumped by the Israeli media, plus all these “nuclear reactor” thingies, it might actually scare some people.

    The average Israeli citizen is under a lot of pressure. From one side, the tax burden is becoming increasingly high and people are protesting “against” it. From my own perspective, they are doing it wrong.

    A few notes about that. The Israeli government controls (by regulation) on almost every aspect of our life. TV channels, health care, education, pension funds, lands and city planning, public transportation and more are all tightly controlled and regulated by the Israeli government. By regulated I don’t mean properly supervised, I mean that one cannot do any of those things without the permission of the government. For example, we have two major privately owned channels, 10 and 2. Each of them pays tens of millions of shekels a year to the government for the permission to air.
    The protesters are actually calling for MORE regulation, which leaves me baffled.

    From the other side, the threat of annihilation is constantly being pumped through the media and TV channels. Without underestimating the sensitive situation that we’re actually in, I believe that the right-wing parties are using that to suppress the economical/social matters at hand.

    A few notes about Iran, also.

    They sent a monkey to “space” and it didn’t come back.
    They claimed to have a stealth airplane only to get debunked by every other military person out there.
    They fired a test rocket that got exploded in mid-air.
    They actually failed in every advanced war technology, so why would they succeed in building a nuclear bomb?

    Personally, I don’t buy the nuclear crap. I believe that Iran is also a part of this FUD. By creating a common enemy (the European union, the world, Israel, w/e) their current regime gains more support from the citizens.

    About Haaretz, they are just playing along.

  13. I worked in Saudi Arabia. There is widespread hatred of USA there but the oil money fixes everything. The royal family gets all the oil money and lets it trickle down. Anyone who wants in on the action has to toe the line…

    Pakistan is different. They are already nuclear and they hate USA as much as any country can. The occupation of Afghanistan and supporting the PK military may just be keeping the lid on. It doesn’t hurt to have PK hating India over Kashmir.

    US policy seems to be a patchwork that makes no sense except to those whose palms are being greased.

    I have no clue why Libya could be given CAP but Syria has to be handled covertly and piecemeal. That’s politics or something totally unrelated to capability or what is needed. Then look what happened when the consulate at Benghazi was attacked. Public discussion was about who said what when on talk shows instead of what the heck was really happening. I saw the US embassy in Riyadh in the 1980s more strongly defended than that office was. Benghazi was essentially undefended with no serious effort to provide relief. What’s with that?

    During WWII, my father observed that US military seemed totally unprepared for anything. Now they are supposedly ready for two simultaneous global wars and cannot defend a consulate. Was the occupation of Afghanistan merely to provide targets for the Taliban? Does any of it make sense?

  14. Mats Hagglund says:

    Interesting thing about this fear Iran is because that country is perhaps one of the most modernized Muslim countries outside Europe. So i asked is that modernization of any Muslim country (or any developing country) actually threatening both Israel and American political establishment more than so called “religious fundamentalism”? On the other hand i’ve never found really good reasons (e.g democracy and “freedom”) why Washington loves so much countries like Saudi-Arabia or Pakistan.

  15. oiaohm says:

    Dr Loser when Australia was looking at building our first major reactor that did not go ahead it was also a breeder reactor. Because you wish to use all the fuel you have.

    The current Australia research and medical radioactive material production reactor is also a Breeder reactor. So yes Australia also manufacture small amounts of Plutonium 239 in a heavy water based reactor. That just happens to be small.

    Its is normally a countries that get the fuel from countries with Breeder reactors that have light water only reactors.

    USA has pretty much refused to supply Iran with materials. If you don’t want them making Plutonium 239 in volumes you have to be supplying uranium 235 to the country. So they can burn off there ore then end up with what in hell you are going todo with all the extra 238 you have.

    No matter how you look at this Uranium is a pain in ass. To use it everyone has to produce Plutonium 239. The important thing is that the resulting Plutonium is not refined to weapon grade and that it will be consumed in Plutonium using reactors.

    The used rods from Light Water Reactors also contains Plutonium 239 and it is possible to refine that to weapon grade as well.

    The problem is the same gear to produce weapon grade Plutonium you also use to produce reactor grade Plutonium and also use it to get you 4 percent uranium-235 with 96 percent uranium 238 for Light Water Reactors. All it is how it configured. Yes also producing 100 percent 238 is part of the separation process that is waste product without a breeder reactor to consume it. This gear can also be using heavy water for radiation shielding.

    This is the problem making heavy water does not prove that person up to no good. If making heavy water was no good Australia should be in trouble too same with many other countries.

    Making a heavy water reactor many countries do. Again how can this be a problem.

    Australia mostly did not go the reactor path not to ruffle feathers and it was not that critical with our resource to go that path.

    Really the best path with iran would most likely been we will help you make power plants. As long as the refining and rerefining is controlled to make sure no material is going into weapons.

  16. ram says:

    Any country with nuclear power technology can fairly easily make nuclear weapons. Countries and organisations with enough understanding of nuclear physics can even build thermonuclear fusion devices without using any radioactive materials, so conventional fission reactors are not even necessary for making nuclear weapons.

    The nuclear weapon threat won’t go away until the powers of the world start using collaboration and consent rather than violent force to get ‘their’ way.

  17. oiaohm says:

    Dr Loser hey F-whit who cannot goggle.

    Plutonium-239 is part of normal production inside any reactor. Russians also use to make what are called breeder reactors.

    Every country with a nuclear reactor produces Plutonium-239 the problem is Uranium-238 is the dominate Uranium on earth. If you don’t use Uranium 238 you don’t have much supply.

    Reactor-grade from high-burnup fuel Plutonium-239 is a key part.

    light water reactor yes does not produce Plutonium-239 effectively. But has a shorter operational life.

    Some of the rusian design Light water reactors. Have a second containment tank of heavy water. So the big problem with a party producing heavy water is that does not say its for a heavy water power plant. They could be just trying to build an long life Light water reactor. Or a more compact Light water reactor. yes this is how you produce a lot of Plutonium-239.

    Russia is still using them and making new ones. Fun part is a Breeder_reactors can burn down Plutonium-239 if you leave it in there.

    Also DR Loser I would like to know where Japan is hiding there nuke weapons. Breeder reactors primary fuel is Uranium-238. For non Breeder reactors you want to keep the other Uranium forms.

    Because you have made a claim that everyone that has intentionally produced Plutonium-239 has gone on to make weapons this is no true.

    Everyone who has refined Plutonium 239 to weapon grade has gone on to make weapons is the correct answer. Reactor grade Plutonium has more Plutonium 240 so you don’t have reactor go bang. Japan has only ever refined to Reactor grade Plutonium. Even that they short Uranium-238 out and feed into breeder reactors. The problem is you need to increase.

    The big problem you are not allowing for is U-235 is less than 4 percent in all natural Ore sources.

    Natural ratios.
    uranium-238 (99.2739%), uranium-235 (0.7205%) and a very low percentage of uranium-234 (0.0056%).

    Just to be nasty a breeder reactor that is a heavy water reactor is the only thing that can take natural ore. To use a light water reactor you have to refine the ore. To get uranium 235 up to 4 percent. Then you end up with left over uranium 238.

  18. Der Balrog, the gist of my article is that the production of heavy water has almost nothing to do with the production of plutonium. The enrichment of uranium actually reduces the production of plutonium. Therefor the heavy water is nothing to be scared about. Would you be scared if they started producing carbon moderator? Then why is Haretz trying to scare people about Iran’s industrial capability?

  19. oiaohm says:

    It remind me of this question from my Science teacher. Will this ice cube float. We all say yes. Only to learn it heavy water ice going into normal water.

    Yes that is right water ice does not always float on water.

    The problem you run into is what people believe is not since fact.

    Yes the heavy water bit is fud. Reactors using U235 that don’t produce any plutonium need heavy water in most designs as radiation shielding.

    The fun part is using normal water in a reactor just like you can trigger U238 to pick up a neutron and go from stable to unstable. Same thing happens to the water. Except hydrogen and Oxygen does not go unstable just changes from normal water to Deuterium.

    People don’t take into account how short of life a nuclear power plant has before its possibly dead. The radiation slowly destroy the structural integrity of the shielding materials other than liquid heavy water. Note I said liquid heavy water. Frozen heavy water will develop fractures like every other solid shielding material does.

    Yes the fracture rate of containment is random.

    So iran does not fire a single nuke and we could have a disaster on our hands if there nuclear power shielding fails.

  20. Dr Loser says:


    You’re comparing the deliberate centrifuging of Uranium-238 and the subsequent production of an entirely artificial element, Plutonium-239 — both of which have almost never been produced by a single one of the 193 member states of the United Nations, unless that country went on to build a nuclear bomb — with Deuterium and Tritium?

    Remind me again what your particular field of academic excellence was in, Robert.

    And then, perhaps, you can explain to us why you are defending a clerical fascist dictatorship with clear and openly admitted homicidal tendencies towards their near neighbours.

    Perhaps they could just borrow some of that heavy water you Canucks have, and simply give the Jews a good shower.

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