The Wednesday Report


Canada's Aerospace & Defence Weekly

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, 1961


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 aircraft.

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 1981."

Bomb inventor says U.S. defenses suffer because of politics

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 recounted.

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 interview.

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 Boy.")

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 destroyed.

And unlike standard nuclear bombs that leave long-term contamination of the soil and infrastructure, the neutron radiation quickly dissipates after the explosion.

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 survive.

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 American lives.

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 today.

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 neutron bombs.

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 Cohen:

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 weapons.

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 world.

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 security issues:

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 modernize.

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 system.

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 targets.

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 field.

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 country.

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 strike.

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 counterattack.

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 them.


'Neutron bomb capability exists'

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 soon?

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 such features.

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 nuclear classification.

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 third stage...

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 sites?

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 planned?

That really depends on the government's decision. As far as R&D work is concerned, it is an ongoing process.

Are facilities in place to conduct sub-critical tests ?

No comment.

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 neutron bomb.

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 sufficient.

Are you convinced that we need not explode more nuclear devices, thermo-nuclear bombs with bigger yields?

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 between them?

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 difference.

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 facility...

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 Kalpakkam.

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 wastes?

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 Coaster."

 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 Chinese censure.

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 technology."

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, 4 August.