Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



NUKEWARS
Israel nuclear reactor defects spark secrecy dilemma
By Joe Dyke
Jerusalem (AFP) April 28, 2016


Growing safety fears surrounding Israel's largest but ageing atomic research centre have provoked fresh questions over its future and a dilemma over the secrecy of the country's alleged nuclear arsenal.

Israel, believed to be the Middle East's sole nuclear power, has long refused to confirm or deny that it has such weapons.

The Haaretz newspaper reported on Tuesday that a study had uncovered 1,537 defects in the decades-old aluminium core of the Dimona nuclear reactor in the Negev desert of southern Israel.

The defects at the centre, where nuclear weapons were allegedly developed, were not seen to be severe and the risk of a nuclear outbreak is very limited, the report said.

However, there are growing calls for new safeguards and even a new research centre -- which could present the country with a decision on whether to acknowledge for the first time that it has nuclear weapons.

The US-based Institute for Science and International Security estimated in 2015 that Israel had 115 nuclear warheads.

At the same time Israel has strongly opposed other regional powers, most notably its arch-foe Iran, obtaining nuclear weapons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also one of the most vociferous critics of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers that was implemented in January, leading to the lifting of international sanctions on Tehran.

Officially the Dimona centre focuses on research and energy provision.

But in the 1980s nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at the centre, alleged to a British newspaper that it was also used to create nuclear weapons.

He was later jailed for 18 years for the revelations.

- 'Waiting for disaster' -

The core of the Dimona reactor was provided by France in the late 1950s and went online a few years later.

Common practice is that such reactors are used for only 40 years, though this can be extended with modifications.

Uzi Even, a chemistry professor at Tel Aviv University who was involved in the creation of the reactor, is concerned about the safety of the site and has campaigned for a decade for it to be closed -- "so far, to no avail".

He called for it to be shut off for security reasons. "This reactor is now one of the oldest still operating globally," he said.

Michal Rozin, a lawmaker with the leftwing Meretz party, has called for a radical shakeup in policy in the light of the safety worries.

"The nuclear reactor has no supervision besides the body that runs it, the Israel Atomic Energy Commission," she wrote in a letter, seen by AFP, to the parliamentary foreign and defence committee.

"We don't need to wait for a disaster to make a change."

Israel's atomic energy agency said in a statement that the country had the "highest international standards" of security and safety, adding that many reactors can last for far longer than 40 years.

- 'Political matter' -

While a challenge, safely closing a nuclear reactor and opening a new one is far from impossible, Arthur Motta, chair of Nuclear Engineering at Pennsylvania State University, told AFP.

"Technically it is not a difficult problem," he said. "Nuclear energy is so dense, the volume of a reactor that provides a whole city with energy is just (the size of) a building."

"It is more a political matter."

And there are a number of political reasons why the site has remained open, not least the thousands of jobs at risk, Even said.

Building a new site could also see Israel pushed to officially declare its nuclear capabilities.

While Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons, officials do not formally confirm or deny the claims -- a policy often dubbed deliberate ambiguity.

As such, the country has yet to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty -- which would require its sites to undergo regular inspection of its facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Motta explained. The IAEA declined to comment.

"I don't think we have the capability to build a new reactor (alone)," Even said. "And no one will sell us a reactor before we sign the non-proliferation agreement."

Writing in the Israeli daily Ma'ariv, investigative journalist and security specialist Yossi Melman called it a "strategic dilemma of the first order".

"If it were to sign the treaty (Israel) would be able to obtain nuclear reactors."

"But it would also have to declare and reveal what it has, nuclear-wise, and the monopoly it allegedly has on this in the Middle East."


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
All about missiles at SpaceWar.com
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
NUKEWARS
US to buy excess nuclear materials from Iran
Washington (Sputnik) Apr 25, 2016
The United States and Iran are expected to finalize a deal for Washington to purchase an estimated $8.6 million worth of heavy water to help Iran comply with its nuclear agreement, according to US media reports on Friday. According to US officials, the purchase is intended to help Iran quickly reduce its stockpile of nuclear material as required by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (J ... read more


NUKEWARS
First rocket made ready for launch at Vostochny spaceport

Supernova iron found on the moon

Russia to shift all Lunar launches to Vostochny Cosmodrome

Lunar lava tubes could help pave way for human colony

NUKEWARS
Mars' surface revealed in unprecedented detail

NASA rocket fuel pump tests pave way for methane-fueled Mars lander

Opportunity completes mini-walkabout

Curiosity Mars Rover crosses rugged plateau

NUKEWARS
When technology bites back

Menstruation in spaceflight: Options for astronauts

Tech industry titans urge US to better fund science ed

Space Subcommittee examines commercial challenges

NUKEWARS
South China city gears up for satellite tourism

China testing own reusable rocket technologies

China's long march into space

China's top astronaut goes to "space camp"

NUKEWARS
15 years of Europe on the International Space Station

US-Russia Space Projects Set Example of Good Cooperation

Russia, US discuss boosting efficiency of cooperation at ISS

BEAM successfully installed to the International Space Station

NUKEWARS
SpaceX vows to send capsule to Mars by 2018

Soyuz demonstrates Arianespace mission flexibility

India to test Reusable Launch Vehicle in June

Soyuz meets its multi-satellite payload for Friday's Arianespace launch

NUKEWARS
Kepler spacecraft recovered and returned to the K2 Mission

Lone planetary-mass object found in family of stars

University of Massachusetts Lowell PICTURE-B Mission Completed

Stars strip away atmospheres of nearby super-Earths

NUKEWARS
Model makes designing new antennas orders of magnitude faster

Team builds first quantum cascade laser on silicon

Companies named for Navy's open RF program

Liquid spiral vortex discovered




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement