This, in effect, is what the neutron bomb is... a bomb by
means of which it would be possible to kill people but to
preserve all riches - here it is, the bestial ethics of the most
aggressive representatives of imperialism.
-Nikita Khrushchev, in a speech to the Rumanian Party Congress,
Historical (Ancient articles background research - caution)
"Tactical neutron bombs are primarily intended to kill
soldiers who are protected by armor. Armored vehicles are
very resistant to blast and heat produced by nuclear weapons, but
steel armor can reduce neutron radiation only by a modest amount
so the lethal range from neutrons greatly exceeds that of other
weapon effects. The lethal range for tactical neutron bombs can
exceed the lethal range for blast and heat even for unprotected
troops. Armor can absorb neutrons and neutron energy, thus
reducing the neutron radiation to which the tank crew is exposed,
but this offset to some extent by the fact that armor can also
react harmfully with neutrons. Alloy steels for example can
develop induced radioactivity that remains dangerous for some
time. When fast neutrons are slowed down, the energy lost can
show up as x-rays. Some types of armor, like that of the M-1
tank, employ depleted uranium which can undergo fast fission,
generating additional neutrons and becoming radioactive. Special
neutron absorbing armor techniques have also been developed, such
as armors containing boronated plastics and the use of vehicle
fuel as a shield."
"Also called ENHANCED RADIATION WARHEAD, specialized
type of small thermonuclear weapon that produces minimal blast
and heat but which releases large amounts of lethal radiation.
The neutron bomb delivers blast and heat effects that are
confined to an area of only a few hundred yards in radius. But
within a somewhat larger area it throws off a massive wave of
neutron and gamma radiation, which can penetrate armour or
several feet of earth. This radiation is extremely destructive to
living tissue. Because of its short-range destructiveness and the
absence of long-range effect, the neutron bomb would be highly
effective against tank and infantry formations on the battlefield
but would not endanger cities or other population centres only a
few miles away. It can be carried in a Lance missile or delivered
by an 8-inch (200-millimetre) howitzer, or possibly by attack
In strategic terms, the neutron bomb has a theoretical deterrent
effect: discouraging an armoured ground assault by arousing the
fear of neutron bomb counterattack. The bomb would disable enemy
tank crews in minutes, and those exposed would die within days.
U.S. production of the bomb was postponed in 1978 and resumed in
Bomb inventor says U.S. defenses suffer because of
LOS ANGELES - For most of Sam Cohen's life,
he has struggled against politicians who, in his opinion, have
sacrificed good sense when it comes to the nation's defenses.
Cohen is the physicist who invented the neutron bomb, the one
that kills people but leaves things like tanks and buildings
intact. Plans to deploy his creations in Europe during the '70s
and '80s awakened the "peace movement" across that continent,
stopping its deployment.
With that and other battles lost, the
76-year-old Cohen finds solace in his Brentwood home, nestled
high on a hill overlooking Los Angeles. There the world is far
more peaceful, or so it seems. Just down the road is the
Rockingham estate of one O.J. Simpson. Cohen would pass there
often during his morning walks, and occasionally see the former
football star. "He was always pleasant," Cohen
Cohen would probably be unfazed if
confronted by a knife-wielding mugger - a threat insignificant in
the scheme of things. What worries him are weapons of mass
destruction - nuclear ones that destroy whole cities.
The politicians tell us that our security
has never been better. Cohen describes the present situation as
"scary, more scary than ever before." He's concerned that the
Clinton administration has decided it is politically incorrect to
even think about the design and development of nuclear weapons.
The head of the division of the Livermore National Laboratories
in charge of such weapon development has threatened to resign if
he is ordered to develop new weapons, Cohen noted in a recent
The government doesn't want people to even
think about nuclear weapons, which is like telling Sam Cohen he
is no longer permitted to breathe.
As a kid from Brooklyn who graduated with a
physics degree from UCLA, he enlisted in the Army after Pearl
Harbor. In 1944 Cohen was assigned to the top-secret Manhattan
Project to develop atomic weapons at Los Alamos, N.M. Cohen had
the mundane job of calculating how neutrons behaved in "Fat Man"
- the nickname of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. (The bomb dropped
on Hiroshima three days earlier was nicknamed "Little
The boring work was all worthwhile because
Cohen eventually stood in the Nevada desert and witnessed
something on par with the Transfiguration: an atomic explosion.
Cohen saw firsthand the awesome power of the unleashed atom as
human history entered a new age. "Awesome spectacle" is how Cohen
still describes the event. Puffing on a cigar as he relaxed in
his easy chair wearing a T-shirt and jogging pants, Sam
remembered that day vividly.
World War II flying hero Jimmy Doolittle
stood next to him when the bomb went off. "The little guy was
blown down," Cohen recalled.
After the war ended, Cohen joined the Rand
Corp. where he was paid to continue thinking about nuclear
weapons. He was obsessed with the idea of a neutron bomb, one
that would make use of the lethal particles he had observed so
studiously at Los Alamos.
The earliest bombs had used nuclear
fission, splitting heavy atoms to release energy. Later bombs
used nuclear fusion, which fused hydrogen atoms to release
energy. Both designs produced tremendous blasts that could level
whole cities, and left them uninhabitable for long periods
because of lingering radiation.
Cohen's neutron bomb would use nuclear
fusion, but in a different way. The detonation of a neutron bomb
would still produce an explosion, but one much smaller than a
standard nuclear weapon's. The main effect of a neutron bomb
would be the release of high-energy neutrons that would take
lives far beyond the blast area. The result: fewer buildings,
cars, tanks, roads, highways and other structures
And unlike standard nuclear bombs that
leave long-term contamination of the soil and infrastructure, the
neutron radiation quickly dissipates after the
For Cohen, the neutron bomb is the ultimate
sane weapon. It kills humans, or as he puts it "the bad guys,"
but doesn't produce tremendous collateral damage on civilian
populations and the infrastructure a civilian population needs to
This meant, in Cohen's mind, that a
conventional war could escalate without immediately leading to an
all-out nuclear holocaust. If regular nuclear weapons were used
across Europe, the radioactive fallout could turn the continent
into a wasteland for decades. That wouldn't be the case if
neutron bombs were used.
Between 1958 and 1961 the neutron bomb idea
was tested successfully, but the politicians in Washington nixed
development and deployment of the weapon. Cohen persisted. As the
Vietnam War began and festered in the 1960s, Cohen became an
advocate of using neutron bombs there. To Cohen, his weapon was
"a perfect fit" for dealing with the Viet Cong hidden in the
jungles and rice paddies.
Again, the politicians had other ideas.
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ruled that no nuclear
weapons of any type would be used in the war. The use of the
small neutron bombs would have brought the war to a quick end,
Cohen still argues, and saved the loss of more than 50,000
In 1969, Cohen was fired from the Rand
Corp. for continuing to advocate the use of tactical neutron
bombs to end the conflict. "I lost all my battles," Cohen says
In 1979, he was in Paris helping the French
build their own arsenal of neutron bombs when presidential
candidate Ronald Reagan came through on a European tour. Cohen
met with Reagan to brief him on the neutron bomb. Reagan grasped
the idea of neutron weaponry immediately, and made a pledge to
Cohen, and later a public pledge, that he would reverse Carter
administration policy by building and deploying a large number of
As president, Reagan fulfilled that pledge
and approximately a thousand weapons were constructed. But
criticism from European allies kept the weapons from being
deployed across Europe.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the
end of communism as we knew it, the Bush administration moved to
dismantle all of our tactical nuclear weapons, including the
Reagan stockpile of neutron bombs. In Cohen's mind, America was
brought back to Square One. Without tactical weapons like the
neutron bomb, America would be left with two choices if an enemy
was winning a conventional war: surrender, or unleash the
holocaust of strategic nuclear weapons.
Other nation's haven't been afflicted by
the U.S. blindness regarding neutron bombs. According to
Evidence exists that China has neutron
bombs stockpiled, and that the United States gave the Chinese the
technology to build them.
Russia has a large quantity of such
weapons, as well as the world's largest arsenal of nuclear
Israel has hundreds of neutron weapons. The
neutron bombs would allow Israel to stop advancing Arab armies
and tank columns - even one on Israeli soil - without permanently
contaminating the land.
South Africa, which constructed a cache of
neutron weapons before the end of white rule, claimed it
dismantled those weapons before handing over power to the Nelson
Mandela government. Cohen, however, claims to have it on good
authority that white military leaders still control the secret
stockpile as "an insurance policy."
Most frightening for Cohen is the relative
ease by which neutron bombs can be created with a substance
called red mercury. Red mercury is a compound containing mercury
that has undergone massive irradiation. When exploded, it creates
tremendous heat and pressure - the same type needed to trigger a
fusion device such as a mini-neutron bomb.
Before, an obstacle to creating a nuclear
bomb was the need for plutonium, which when exploded could create
a fusion reaction in hydrogen atoms. But red mercury has changed
that. The cheap substance has been produced in Russia, Cohen
said, and shipped on the black market throughout the
Cohen said that when U.N. inspectors went
to Iraq to examine the Iraqis' nuclear weapons capabilities, the
U.N. team found documents showing that they had purchased
quantities of red mercury. The material means a neutron bomb can
be built "the size of baseball" but able to kill everyone within
several square blocks.
The public isn't being warned about this
development because the politicians have little desire to combat
the menace or to confront nations like Iraq, Iran and Libya that
likely would use such weapons, Cohen said.
Cohen has little faith in the politicians
anyway. "Every president since Truman, with the possible
exception of Eisenhower, would have sold the country out if it
came down to a nuclear confrontation," he said.
Cohen on nation security issues
In a recent interview, Sam Cohen, the
father of the neutron bomb, offered his views on several national
RUSSIA: Though the Cold War is over and
Russia appears in disarray, Cohen suggested that the situation
remains dangerous because Russia has "far and away substantially
more nuclear weapons than we do." While U.S. policy makers have
been busy dismantling our nuclear arsenal, Russia continues to
The United States has been paying billions
of dollars for the leftover plutonium from Russia's dismantled
weapons, but evidence indicates that the Russians have not been
turning over weapons-grade plutonium. Instead, the United States
has been paying for, and not objecting to, material from their
nuclear power plants - a strong sign the Russians are not
dismantling their weapons.
MISSILE DEFENSES: Calling a ballistic
missile defense system "absolutely necessary," Cohen said
American space-based plans so far have been a "debacle" that have
cost taxpayers more than $50 billion.
Cohen argued that the "Star Wars" plan
envisioned by President Ronald Reagan was inherently flawed.
Politicians, once again fearing the "n" word, promised that
nuclear weapons would not be used in any missile defense system.
Cohen contends Reagan received misleading advice that technology
was advanced enough to create a non-nuclear missile defense
Almost 15 years have passed since Reagan's
call for a missile defense system, and still no weapons have been
deployed. Cohen said that, had nuclear weapons been used, a
fairly inexpensive system could already have been deployed. In
such a system, nuclear weapons are exploded high in the
atmosphere to either destroy or knock off trajectory incoming
missiles. While the radioactive fallout from such explosions
would pose some threat to civilian populations, it would be
infinitely less harmful than having enemy missiles hit their
Already, Cohen reported, the Russians have
a sophisticated nuclear-based missile defense system around
Moscow and possibly elsewhere. According to published
intelligence reports, in the late 1980s the Russians began
developing a "plasma weapon" for missile defenses. The plasma
weapon uses nuclear energy to ionize the atmosphere, destroying
or rendering inoperable any missiles passing through the plasma
SEAPOWER: Cohen said navies have become
"obsolete" in terms of global warfare using nuclear weapons, and
he described floating ships as "sitting ducks" for nuclear
weapons. The U.S. Navy depends on AEGIS missile defense systems
to protect its fleets, but Cohen said AEGIS has failed all of its
tests, and there is no proof that it could fend off a
multi-missile strike against a fleet, let alone a
Cohen said the U.S. Navy should put more
resources into nuclear-powered submarines because of the
difficulty any enemy might have in destroying them in a first
For years, the nuclear submarines were the
most important part of our deterrent against surprise nuclear
attack, primarily because the submarine captain and crew did not
need special codes, known as permissive action links or PALs, to
fire their weapons. Thus, if a surprise attack disabled our
military communications, the submarine could still
In recent years, Cohen said, the Clinton
administration has instituted the use of PALs on nuclear missile
submarines, limiting their deterrence value.
CHINA: Cohen thinks China will soon be in
position to blackmail the United States into reneging on promises
to defend Taiwan. Already China has made overt threats about
hitting the U.S. mainland with nuclear weapons. "China has said,
`OK, if you defend Taiwan, we'll drop a nuclear weapon on Los
Angeles,'" Cohen said.
In a trip to Taiwan, Cohen spoke before the
military leadership there and strongly advised them to begin
their own nuclear weapons program. The United States will not
defend you because the politicians don't care about you, he told
'Neutron bomb capability
Interview with Dr. Anil Kakodkar.
Dr. Anil Kakodkar took charge as
Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, and Secretary, Department of
Atomic Energy (DAE), on December 1. This former Director of the
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay, succeeded Dr. R.
Chidambaram to these posts. Dr. Kakodkar, 57, obtained a B.E.
degree in mechanical engineering from Bombay University and an
M.Sc. from Nottingham University in the U.K. In 1963-64 he
underwent training in nuclear science and technology with the
then Atomic Energy Establishm ent, Trombay. Associated with
research and development related to nuclear reactors since 1964,
he was involved in India's first Peaceful Nuclear Explosion (PNE)
experiment of May 1974. He played an important role in the five
nuclear tests conducted in Ma y 1998. He played a key role in the
design and construction of Dhruva, the 100 MW high flux reactor
at Trombay and the development of indigenous Pressurised Heavy
Water Reactor (PHWR) system. His work in the rehabilitation of
the two reactors at Kalpakkam and the first unit at Rawatbhatta,
which at one stage were on the verge of being written off, are
examples of his engineering capability. He has built teams of
specialised engineers and scientists in the reactor engineering
programm e. His dream project is to build the Advanced Heavy
Water Reactor (AHWR) that uses thorium-uranium 233 as primary
energy source with plutonium as the driver fuel. The unique
reactor system, with simplified but safe technology, will
generate 75 per cent o f electricity from thorium.
T.S. Subramanian met Dr. Kakodkar for
an interview at Trombay. Excerpts:
You have stated that India's nuclear energy
programme has come of age. Could you elaborate on this?
Any research and development (R&D)
programme must ultimately lead to technological benefit to the
society. In our atomic energy programme, as a result of the
R&D that has been done at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre
(BARC) and other institutions, and R &D contributions from
industry in manufacturing technology, we have today the PHWR
programme which is in a successful commercial domain. We are able
to build our own nuclear power reactors, manufacture all the
essential nuclear inputs such as heavy water , zirconium alloy
components and nuclear fuel. The PHWRs are operating at a high
capacity factor. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited
has been making considerable profits. It is a demonstration of
the successful migration of technology from th e laboratory to
the industry. So there is a degree of maturity in the DAE.
Obviously, if the nuclear power programme has
to grow, there should be more and more PHWRs, with larger unit
sizes too. Right now we are building 220 MW PHWRs. At Tarapur we
have started construction of 500 MW PHWRs. We should take up more
reactors for c onstruction and the 500 MW reactor programme
should get considerable acceleration.
This programme is no longer limited by
technology. It is a question of creating more investments, and
more projects, and megawatt capacity would follow. This is
important because nuclear electricity generation today forms only
a low fraction of the total electricity generated in the country.
We should take it to a reasonably higher fraction because this is
a future energy source. Once we take the nuclear power capacity
(generation) to 7,000 or 8,000 MWe level, the internal surplus
generation will be abl e to support a substantial
capacity-building programme. We must have a programme where work
is going on simultaneosuly at several sites. Also the technology
development to support the PHWR programme has to continue because
the technology is never static.
Will the construction of the 500 MW
Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) begin at Kalpakkam
We are almost ready. The second stage of our
nuclear power programme, that is, the construction of the Fast
Breeder Reactors (FBRs), should reach a commercial deployment
stage as we have with the first stage PHWRs today. This is the
key to exploiting the full potential of our nuclear energy
resources and enlarging the nuclear power generation capacity.
The Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) at Kalpakkam has done
extremely well and all its technological objectives have been
met. The Indira Gandhi Centre fo r Atomic Research (IGCAR) at
Kalpakkam has done a lot of technological development work in
building the full-size components for the PFBR. So they are
poised to take up the construction of the PFBR. On the basis of
that experience, we should be in a posi tion to start
construction of a series of FBRs in India. This will be the
second stage of our nuclear electricity programme.
As the FBR programme starts, we have to think
of further advancement in terms of faster doubling time. The PFBR
will constitute the reactor technology and we have to advance in
fuel cycle technology. That is a major programme which will go on
for some ti me at the IGCAR.
The third stage of our nuclear electricity
programme will use thorium as fuel. Here also there will be
several stages of evolutions in the thorium utilisation
programme. The ultimate objective of this will be to build a pure
thorium-uranium 233 based rea ctor. The AHWRs will form only the
first phase of the third stage. The idea here is that we should
move towards thorium utilisation on a very substantial scale,
using the heavy water technology that we have. The AHWR is
designed to get a large fraction o f energy output from thorium.
It incorporates several advanced safety features which
characterise innovative reactor designs worldwide.
What are the technological challenges that
you will have to overcome in building AHWRs?
The main objective of the AHWRs is to achieve
a larger degree of safety through the use of what is known as
passive safety systems. For example, with, natural circulation of
water, safety is no longer dependent on active components such as
pumps, which m ay fail. Passive systems depend on physical
principles and you thus get a large safety advantage.
In the AHWR, energy extraction from the core
is through passive means. Residual heat removal is through
passive means. Containment heat removal and containment
circulation are both by passive means. There are several other
The AHWR would be economically advantageous
too. We are building into it features which will lower its
capital cost. This is because there is no active equipment, or
there are just one or two, which require nuclear classification.
We have eliminated most of the costly equipment that require
You do require some active components to back
up, but they are all conventional equipment. You can buy them in
the market and they are cheap. Using factory assembled coolant
channels, we expect to do the coolant channel replacement work
quite fast. In on e normal shutdown of the reactor, you can
replace the coolant channels. This is the kind of capability we
are trying to build. This is the second objective.
The third and the most important objective is
to demonstrate large-scale generation of electricity from
thorium. So the reactor will be in a self-sustaining mode as far
as the uranium 233-thorium cycle is concerned. Whatever
uranium-233 is consumed for e lectricity generation, the same
amount of uranium-233 will be produced in the reactor. Of course
it will require a certain amount of plutonium as a kind of driver
fuel. That is why it (the AHWR) forms the first phase of the
We are defining the road map for shaping the
third stage. There are several elements in it: the technologies
that will go into the uranium-233 fuel cycle, that is, the fuel
cycle technology; the reactor technology, and so on. For some
time, the FBRs and the thorium reactors will be in a tandem mode.
You breed fuel and you support more thorium capacity. Afterwards
it will go into pure thorium mode.
While this is going on, we probably have to
look for technologies that will make the third stage more
efficient. There is a possibility that accelerator driven
sub-critical systems can achieve that objective.
Are breeder reactors relevant when people
talk about accelerator driven sub-critical systems?
Breeder reactors are more relevant in the
sense that the technology development for them is way ahead of
the technology development for accelerator driven systems...
In the accelerator driven systems, the
advantage is that you get a variety of characteristics.
Conceptually, it is a variation of the AHWR core coupled with a
fast driver core and spallation source driven by an accelerator.
We can, on the one side, have a thorium-uranium 233 fuel cycle
with better doubling time. On the other side, we can incinerate
the long-lived waste in the same system. So it will become a kind
of self-consistent system where you can breed more fuel than you
consume and incinerate mos t of the long-lived waste. This is a
major advantage... This is an area where a lot of work is
required to be done for a long time, for 15 to 20 years. This is
a major technological challenge which is important for us. This
is factored into our strategy for shaping the third stage of our
nuclear power programme of thorium utilisation.
What will be the scale of import of light
water reactors to reach the goal of generating 20,000 MW of
nuclear electricity by 2020? Russia's Deputy Minister for Atomic
Energy E.A. Reshetnikov who visited the Rajasthan Atomic Power
Station in September was keen to sell six VVER-1000 reactors to
India including two that are to be built at Kudankulam. Will
India buy light water reactors from France or Canada?
The share of nuclear electricity in the
overall electricity generation in the country should go up.
Nuclear power technology is environmentally very benign. It does
not emit greenhouse gases. It is a source of bulk power
generation and thus there is a ne ed to increase its share. From
that point of view, the imported systems are welcome as an
additionality over and above the domestic programme. At this
moment it will be difficult for me to say how many they will
be... We can accommodate a fairly large sh are of such capacity.
For example, accommodating 6,000 MWe or 7,000 MWe of light water
reactor capacity or even more should not be a problem. As far as
we are concerned, we will welcome it then.
Why have no new sites been identified for
building PHWRs ? Why are PHWRs being bunched at the existing
There is a committee looking at probable
sites. The important consideration is that if there is a site,
depending on its chacteristics, it can accommodate a certain
capacity. So we must make full use of that site's potential. If
you put multiple units at the same site, you get economic
advantage. That is why we are adding more units at the same site.
But there are sites which have been looked at in the past. It is
necessary to look at all of them again in the present context
because we have to see what are the conditions that obtain today,
and also identify new sites. At the moment it appears to me that
it is more urgent for us to open new projects at the existing
sites. While we do that, we should define additional sites where
work can be taken up in future.
Have we reprocessed enough plutonium to
operate the planned FBRs?
We have to adjust the reprocessing capacity in
tune with the requirements of the FBR programme. As the
requirements increase, we will increase the reprocessing
capacity. I don't envisage any serious problem on this front.
The three sub-kiloton nuclear devices that
India exploded at Pokhran in May 1998 have given the country the
capability to do sub-critical tests. Are any sub-critical tests
That really depends on the government's
decision. As far as R&D work is concerned, it is an ongoing
Are facilities in place to conduct
sub-critical tests ?
What led to the nuclear tests of May 1998?
Was it because India could not keep the nuclear option open
indefinitely? Was it because the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
was to be wrapped up, and there would be pressure on India to
accede to the CTBT? Wa s there pressure from the nuclear
scientists in the country to go for the tests?
No, no. The question is... The scientific
community has to respond to national needs. So once the decision
was made, it was implemented. The fact is that it was well known
that nuclear weapons existed in our neighbourhood, and also the
way the CTBT discu ssions went on... there was a deadline. So it
was perhaps necessary, essential for national security
requirements, that this option was exercised. That is what must
have been at the back of the government's decision.
How advanced is India in the matter of
nuclear weaponisation? A former Chairman of the Atomic Energy
Commission, Dr.P.K. Iyengar, says that the process of
weaponisation must continue, leading to the development of
neutron bombs and testing them.
The development work must continue. It is an
ongoing process. What was the objective of these nuclear tests?
It was to have a credible, minimum nuclear deterrent. For that
purpose, what you really require (is weapons) from several
kilotons to a couple of hundred kilotons range. These weapons
must be compact, lightweight and compatible with the delivery
vehicles. This has been the basis of configuring the five tests,
and I think we have sufficient information on the basis of these
five tests to build a c redible, minimum nuclear deterrent.
Now, the neutron bomb is strictly a tactical
weapon. There is no problem about the capability of building a
The capability of building a neutron bomb
in our country?
That capability exists. At this moment we are
talking about this credible deterrent that can be established
based on the five tests done. If you are talking about a credible
deterrent, then I think that whatever has been done is
Are you convinced that we need not explode
more nuclear devices, thermo-nuclear bombs with bigger
I will not put it the way you are putting it.
The 45-kiloton thermo-nuclear test that we did was in a
configuration which allows us to easily go up to 200 kiloton. So
far as thermo-nuclear technology is concerned, there is no doubt
that we have the full capability.
A thermo-nuclear device is popularly called
the hydrogen bomb. According to a top DAE scientist, the hydrogen
bomb and the neutron bomb are the same. Is there any difference
A thermo-nuclear bomb or hydrogen bomb is a
two-stage weapon, which consists of the primary which is based on
fission or boosted fission system, and the secondary is where the
radiation implosion is used to get a large yield. So any
thermo-nuclear weapon will have a certain amount of energy coming
in the form of fission, and a certain amount of energy coming in
the form of fusion.
In a neutron bomb, the fusion energy is
maximised. With minimum fission energy, you get maximum fusion
energy. So you end up getting a much larger neutron output and so
it can create much more damage by radiation. That is the
But the neutron bomb is usually a small yield
weapon and it is more useful as a tactical weapon.
Scientist S.K. Sikka of the BARC has been
quoted as saying that computer simulation (of nuclear tests) is
extremely expensive even in the United States and that therefore
that country had no alternative but to do the real tests.
Yes, in those days, a long time ago.
Is it less expensive now?
It is a question of availability of computing
power. When the computing power that was available was small, it
was probably easier to carry out the tests, in relative terms.
The computing power that is available now is much higher. So you
can get a lot o f information through simulation. To that extent,
the number of tests that we need to carry out comes down.
Can we do computer simulation?
We certainly have some capability. We are
continuously improving on it.
Are there moves afoot to split the BARC
into a nuclear-weapons facility and a non-weapons
There is no question of doing that. The
strength of the BARC lies in its multi-disciplinary character. It
is because of that we are able to run our programmes in nuclear
power; national security; several aspects of isotope and
radiation technology in the area of food, agriculture, health and
industrial support; in the area of nuclear desalination and so
forth, which is important. The BARC has a strong basic research
component in physics, chemistry and biology. It has a strong
technology application comp onent in electricity generation; in
food security in terms of better agricultural mutants and
prevention of food spoilage through radiation processing; and in
health in diagnostics, that is, imaging of different body organs
and radiation therapy for canc er patients. We have programmes in
the area of water. We are building a 6,300-cubic-metres-a-day
nuclear desalination demonstration project plant at
We give support to industry in terms of
monitoring the performance of petrochemical equipment, leakage of
oil pipelines, etc., using radiation technology. Even computer
floppies can be treated by radiation. The BARC has the unique
capability of doing all this. That comes about by its
multi-disciplinary character. That has to be preserved.
How advanced is India in storing solid
We are one of the few countries that have this
full capability, in the sense that we not only carry out the
immobilisation of the radioactive waste in a vitrified matrix but
we have the facility for interim storage of the overpacks that
contain this vitr ified waste in a surveillance mode.
What does it mean?
You first concentrate the waste. You
immobilise it in vitrified mass, special glass which cannot leach
out. You encapsulate this vitrified mass in a metal container.
This is put in another metal container and this is called
overpack. This overpack is kep t in a specially engineered
facility and its construction is such that there will be
continuous circulation of air around this overpack. This is done
by natural circulation. There are no pumps, just a chimney. It is
based on physical principles so that y ou will always have
natural circulation of air and so it cools. The temperature is
kept under limits.
You keep monitoring the temperature and the
radioactivity so that if there is any rupture, you will
immediately come to know about it. You can isolate it and repair
it. As time passes, 30 years or 40 years down the line, the
activity decays. The heat gen eration comes down. You also
confirm the integrity of the isolation, the container, the
barriers to radiation. That is why it is called Solid Storage
under Surveillance Facility.
Very Scary People
The following was found at:
At a joint meeting held last week, all of
Landover's political action committees, in unanimous votes of
their memberships, approved a resolution calling on the U.S.
military to drop neutron bombs throughout Arab territories in the
Middle East. "We really didn't care what those Moslems did
before, as long as they just killed off each other and Jews, and
oil prices remained in tact," observed Pastor Deacon Fred. "But
now, oil prices are rising and five Christian American soldiers
are dead. We need to send a message that for every Christian
American life taken, at least 100,000 heathens must perish. For
every penny rise in the price of a gallon of gas, another bomb
will be dropped."
"We need to right past wrongs," noted Reverend Harry
Hardwick. In the mid-twentieth century, those people were just a
bunch of poor savages with nothing more than the robes on their
backs. We gave the brownies money and technology so they could
drill oil and make money. We gave the Christ-killers guns and
bombs so they could kill the brownies. Now, we're being held
hostage, as the Arabs restrict oil supplies and increase prices.
Such ingratitude! We made a serious mistake before. But history
exists so we can learn from our errors. It's time to take back
the land and the oil in the name of Jesus.
"Granted, there will be some collateral damage," noted Pastor
Deacon Fred. The Israeli Jews will die, too. But they're going
to Hell anyway, along with the Moslems. This will just ensure
they begin their descent a little earlier. Since this is
necessary to protect the lives and livelihoods of Christians, it
is well worth the cost.
Landover's resolution advocates the use of neutron bombs in
place of less expensive fission weapons. "We just want to kill
the people, not the historic landmarks," noted Mrs. Betty Bowers,
president of Betty Bowers Ministries, Ltd. All the holy sites
will remain in tact. My company would bid on the rights to
restore them to a quality acceptable for tourists of all means.
Except, of course, for the Mosque, which would be demolished to
provide much-needed parking. Placing a few Four Seasons in the
areas Jesus most frequented certainly would not be remiss. The
holy sites should be open 24-7 for those who truly deserve to
experience them – True Christians. In fact, I have already
spoken with representatives of Pat Robertson Productions and we
have tentatively developed a proposal to turn the whole area into
a sanitized theme park, serving American food at all price
levels. Every American Christian would be able to retrace the
steps of his Savior on the Vertical Ascension Roller
The church plans to send its resolution to all Republican
candidates for Congress and soon-to-be-President-elect, George W.
Bush. All church members will be required to sign the resolution
at next Sunday's services.
China Announces Neutron Bomb, Missile Test as Tensions Mount
over Spying Allegations and Taiwan
On 15 July, China announced that, since the 1970s, it had
possessed the capacity to develop and test neutron bombs and
miniaturized nuclear warheads. The disclosures were made by chief
Government spokesperson Zhao Qizheng, who stated: "China had no
choice but to carry out research and development of nuclear
weapons technology and improve its nuclear weapon systems,
mastering in succession the neutron bomb design technology and
the nuclear weapon miniaturization technology." Zhao stated
clearly that he was making the announcement in response to the
claims of the Cox Report that China had been systematically
pilfering nuclear secrets from the US (see above). According to
Zhao, China was determined to refute the essentially racist
assumption at the core of the Cox investigations, namely that
"the Chinese can’t be as smart as the Americans, therefore
they must have stolen the technology." US Defense Secretary
William Perry responded to the declaration by observing (15
July): "I don’t find it to be a particularly fruitful
discussion as to whether they claim to have this capability
internally or [to] have acquired it elsewhere. The fact
that’s of concern to all of us is that there seems to be a
proliferation of nuclear technology to a number of countries." On
2 August, China announced it had successfully tested a new
long-range strategic missile, widely thought by experts to be the Dong Feng (East Wind), or DF-31, designed to carry a 1,500
pound warhead over a 4,300 mile range and replace the DF-4
missile, possessing half the range and in service since the
1960s. There was rife media speculation that both the neutron
bomb disclosures and the missile test were intended in part to
intimidate Taiwan, after Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui called
on 2 July for ‘State-to-State’ relations to be
established between the two sides. However, both the US and
Taiwan questioned the linkage, particularly with regard to the
DF-31. A 2 August statement from Taiwan’s Defence Ministry
noted: "The purpose is to intimidate the world’s powerful
nations; it’s unlikely [because of its range] to be used to
attack Taiwan." The same day, US State Department spokesperson
James Rubin asserted: "We do not have any basis to conclude that
the timing of this launch is linked to issues with [regard to]
Taiwan... There’s nothing new about China having medium-
and long-range missiles. They’ve had them for a long, long
time." On 4 August, the US Senate’s Foreign Relations
Committee, Chaired by Jesse Helms (Republican - North Carolina)
held a hearing into proposed legislation - The Taiwan Security
Enhancement Act (S. 693) - which would authorize the
Administration to significantly increase its military assistance
to Taiwan. Helms set out the case for the Act as follows: "This
legislation will ensure that Taiwan will have the essential
self-defense capabilities. To accomplish this, we propose to
bolster the process for defense sales to Taiwan, and to help
Taiwan achieve an adequate military preparedness. ... [P]art of
Beijing’s strategy [to absorb Taiwan] is to continue its
pressure on the US to limit or cease arms sales to Taiwan. ... Of
course, it was the Reagan Administration which signed the
regrettable 1982 Communiqué which set a ceiling on arms
sales to Taiwan and promised China that we would gradually reduce
these sales. ... [J]ust two weeks ago, the Clinton Administration
withheld several arms sale notifications to Congress and is
reported to be considering further such measures in an obvious
attempt to curry favour with Beijing and punish Taiwan for
President Lee’s recent remarks on Taiwan’s status."
Speaking to the Committee at its 4 August hearing, Kurt Campbell,
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Security
Affairs, argued that the proposed Act was "unnecessary" and would
prove "counterproductive": "Taiwan’s’ security rests
not only in its defense posture but also in a continued,
constructive cross-Strait dialogue... We believe a cross-Strait
dialogue that contains confidence-building measures is a critical
ingredient to long-term stability across the Strait."
Campbell’s remarks were echoed by Stanley Roth, Assistant
Secretary of State for Near Eastern and Pacific Affairs, who told
the Committee that the measure before them was "potentially
dangerous", threatening to unravel "a policy which has worked
through four Administrations and continues to work today." Most
graphically of all, the Committee’s ranking Democrat,
Joseph Biden (Delaware), predicted: "Far from enhancing
Taiwan’s security, I am convinced that passage of this
legislation would be the equivalent of waving a red cape in front
of Beijing and inviting China to charge..."
Washington’s existing plans to sell arms to Taiwan -
E-2T early-warning radar aircraft, plus $550 million of equipment
for Taiwan’s F-16 fighter aircraft - are already exciting
Editor’s note: On 3 August, the Xinhua news
agency reported that, as part of celebrations to mark 50 years of
Communist rule, the Government would be producing, at a cost of
$1.8 million, a feature film entitled Birth of the Chinese
A-Bomb, filmed at the Lop Nor test site and designed, in the
words of the agency, "to show how the Chinese independently
developed nuclear weapons without the use of foreign
Reports: China - we have our own neutron bomb,
Associated Press, 15 July; China declares its own neutron
bomb, Associated Press, 15 July; China acknowledges bomb
development, Associated Press, 15 July; Cohen voices US
nuclear concern, Associated Press, 15 July; China
reportedly test fires missile, Associated Press, 2 August; China tests new long-range missile, Associated Press, 2
August; China test launches long-range missile, Reuters, 2
August; US downplays China missile test, Associated Press,
2 August; Taiwan not worried by missile test, Associated
Press, 3 August; China commemorates its atomic bomb,
Associated Press, 3 August; US Senate Panel warned over Taiwan
defense bill, Reuters, 4 August; Text - Defense’s
Campbell on Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, United States
Information Service, 4 August; Text - Senator Helms on Taiwan
Security Enhancement Act, United States Information Service,