By: Tom Tamarkin
January 20, 2015
Let’s propose a REAL compromise solution to offer Iran. Today it is enriching Uranium 238 to produce U235 which is fissile and which can be used to breed Plutonium 239. There is common knowledge that Iran is reaching to enrich to the 90% level needed to make a viable atomic bomb whereas only a 5% enrichment is needed for nuclear power stations they claim is their mission.
The proposal is that the international community allow Iran to produce as many Thorium nuclear power plants as it sees fit. Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive element in the actinide series. Thorium is more plentiful on Earth than Uranium. Unlike Uranium, an atomic bomb cannot use Thorium so this ends all speculation that Iran is striving to produce weapons; a dirty atomic radiation bomb notwithstanding.
Furthermore it should be argued that the international community and Israel agree to fund Iran’s transition from Uranium (and its small Plutonium breeder reactor no one is talking about) and form a consortium to control the Thorium IP and scientific-intellectual know how, and that revenues generated from the sales to other countries be used, in part, to rebuild the Middle East countries which have been devastated by their own Islamic plunder.
In the Thorium fuel cycle some Uranium 235 is required to start the nuclear chain reaction but that too is not of sufficient scale to be of use in weapons.
In 1997, the U.S. Energy Department underwrote research into thorium fuel, and research also was begun in 1996 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to study the use of thorium reactors. Nuclear scientist Alvin Radkowsky of Tel Aviv University in Israel founded a consortium to develop thorium reactors, which included other companies: Raytheon Nuclear Inc., Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow. Radkowsky was chief scientist in the U.S. nuclear submarine program directed by Admiral Hyman Rickover and later headed the design team that built the USA’s first civilian nuclear power plant at Shippingport, Pennsylvania, which was a scaled-up version of the first naval reactor. The third Shippingport core, initiated in 1977, bred thorium. Even earlier examples of reactors using fuel with thorium exist, including the first core at the Indian Point Energy Center in 1962.
However, in most countries uranium was relatively abundant and hence research into thorium fuel waned for a while. A notable exception was India’s three-stage nuclear power program. In the twenty-first century thorium’s potential for improving proliferation resistance and waste characteristics led to renewed interest in the thorium fuel cycle. Currently, some countries such as India and even China are developing new technology for thorium nuclear reactors.
Doing this will allow Iran to close the argument once and for all and prove its intentions are peaceful. Will it agree to this? It is worthwhile to put it to the test…
Many experts claim that Iran has no intentions what so ever in curbing its nuclear activities. Its objective is to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons. For deterrence? No. Absolutely not. No one is threatening them. They are for offensive use.
It should be understood that Russia and China have commercial interests in these arrangements with Iran. If the international community were to take up this proposal regarding the allowance of Iran to build Thorium reactors for nuclear energy, those commercial & financial interests could be preserved. Russia, China, and other suppliers can modify the hardware for that peaceful purpose.
The United States should be identifying the supply chain to Iran and get those countries on board to make this series of proposals during the next month during the new extension period. And the Iranian people need to know this proposal is being suggested by the west including Israel based on peace and prosperity for the citizens of Iran.
However, we should not be naive and believe Iran will accept this. Their intentions seem to be clear beyond debate. They are building an arsenal of delivery system missiles and they intend to arm them with nuclear war heads. Only one is needed to destroy the major population centers of Israel. They plan to build several tens of these A-bombs.
But again, to repeat, the West has a responsibility to make this known to the citizens of Iran who may be in the best position to stage a full scale revolt against their oppressive leaders with help from the West.
Doing this provides America, Israel, and any potential military partners with absolute moral authority to attack Iran and destroy their capabilities in the event they do not comply. No one could say otherwise. Not to comply proves beyond any doubt what-so-ever that Iran’s intentions are indeed military and needless to say you do not build this kind of nuclear capability with the whole world watching unless you are dead serious in the resolve to use it.
By quickly forcing Iran to say NO DEAL and walk away gives us other options and gives the Israelis options as well.
This should be the short term end game. A good and close to perfect deal based on the Thorium concept for peaceful civil atomic energy, or as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said time after time, no deal; no deal is better than a bad deal. But the worst deal is an indefinite “maybe deal.”
In 2004 Dr. Edward Teller wrote a detailed article on the use of Thorium Molten Salts Reactors for civilian power; click here for PDF download. Iran could become the perfect commercial and civil partner to produce Dr. Teller & Dr. Moir’s Thorium-fueled underground power plant based on molten salt technology. Countless countries around the world including Japan, China, and the United States provide a ready market for this potentially safe 21st century nuclear technology as a bridge until fusion power becomes a reality in the future.
Learn more about Thorium and its suitability to Molten Salts Reactors from the World Nuclear Association.
“Nuclear futures: thorium could be the silver bullet to solve our energy crisis” by Professor Robert Cywinski, special research advisory at University of Huddersfield.
Ultimately fusion power must be developed as the only realistic solution to the world’s coming energy crisis.
Until fusion is demonstrated and commercialized, new forms of fission such as the proposed Thorium Molten Salts Reactor can serve as the bridge to fusion energy.
In this video, Dr. Charles Forsberg of MIT and ORNL (Oak Ridge National Laboratories) talks about the potential benefits of the Molten Salt Reactor.
In the future, fusion systems can be used to safely transmutate all the accumulated radioactive waste into safely disposable non-radioactive material from 430 plus nuclear reactors worldwide operating for the last 60 years. This provides an immensely important service to the world to rid its stockpile of radioactive waste and provides an enormous revenue opportunity to those controlling the IP and facilities to reprocess this waste into harmless disposable forms.