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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Time to replace the Dimona reactor?

In an interview with Israel National News, Haaretz military affairs correspondent Yossi Mehlman says that it's time for Israel to look into replacing its Dimona nuclear reactor.
Melman argued, irrespective of the events in Japan, Israel should have decommissioned the reactor in Dimona long ago. "Our reactor is old, from the fifties. Germany closed reactors it built in the eighties. And here we have an older reactor. Our experts say the reactor was retrofitted, but some things are very difficult to improve in a reactor sixty years old. The core area is sealed with concrete and steel is very difficult to replace, unless you disable the reactor and remove the fuel rods."

He added that if, G-d forbid, a nuclear catastrophe happened in Israel, it would not resemble the current disaster in Japan. "Dimona is a research reactor, or according to foreign publications, a reactor to produce nuclear weapons. The Dimona reactor runs on 75 megawatts, while the reactor in Japan runs on 1000 MW. If there is damage to the reactor in Dimona the damage would be of a lesser scale. True, Dimona is close to the earthquake fault of the African Rift, but it poses less concern than an industrial power reactor in Japan."
And you can guess why so far, at least, this has not happened.
Melman noted that the most serious obstacle to Israel's upgrading the Dimona reactor is that it hasn't signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. "There are countries like Israel, India and Pakistan who have not signed the treaty, that for obvious reasons do not want supervision. This makes it very difficult to get assistance from Western countries with the technology to upgrade the reactor."

Israel's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty stems from its long-term strategic policy of purposeful ambiguity vis-a-vis whether the Jewish State possesses nuclear weapons under which Israeli leaders have said, “Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the region.”
Hmmm. Something tells me that in a world that is hostile to Israel, we will not be replacing that reactor anytime soon. There is no choice.

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At 6:52 PM, Blogger Y.K. said...

I don't think the NPT is too much of a problem. India (non-NPT) managed to get an NSG waiver during the previous admin, and can buy nuclear parts in the open market. China is currently building nuclear reactors for Pakistan (non-NPT). And Israel herself wasn't so far from getting France to build reactors in Israel:


So I don't think the NPT is an issue if Israel decides to work on it. I'm not sure it should though.

At 7:09 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Bushehr is on the Iranian plate edge and more likely to go off soon.


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