Tuesday, 14 January 2020

The Giant Green Hulk and nuclear hazards in Iran

Here are two letters sent recently to The Guardian and Daily Mail respectively:

Your report that Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno has joined the sheriff’s department in Socorro county in the New Mexico desert( “Don’t make him angry,” The Guardian, 13 January 2020; https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-guardian/20200113/282699049069970) is an
intriguing example of fact following fiction.
Ferrigno’s character began as Dr Banner, who takes part in a lab experiment whereby he is bombarded by gamma radiation. But he self administers a massive overdose that leads to his transformation into a green seven foot tall superhuman.
Socorro is in real life the location of the very first test of an atomic bomb, dubbed Trinity, in July 1945 (not at Alamogordo, mistakenly given as the location: it actually was the nearest telegraph station from which the news was transmitted).
One of the outcomes of Trinity was the man-made creation of a melted rock form, now named Trinitite. It’s colour: olive green!

I would like to correct and clarify a few points made by Mark Almond of the Crisis Research Institute in Oxford in his article on “Now Iran Will Go Nuclear” (Daily Mail, 8 January 2020 )

He suggests that Iran could access plutonium for weapons-use from the Iranian Bushehr nuclear power plant, which he describes as “Russian-built”. This reactor was started in 1975 by the German company Siemens, and only finished by Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear company after it had laid dormant for several years after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran had a dedicated plutonium production reactor at Arak, which was disabled as part of the Iran Nuclear Deal, wrecked by Trump’s withdrawing the US from it in May 2018. In January four years ago, Iran agreed to remove the reactor core (or calandria) and fill it with concrete to render it unusable.

The plutonium created in the Bushehr reactor would not  be immediately  useable in nuclear warheads as it is so-called “reactor grade”, not “weapons-grade”, and  in any case Iran has no facilities to extract it from the irradiated “spent” fuel withdrawn from the reactor core.

The UK itself has had an unreported role in helping Iran start in the nuclear business.

The then Trade and Industry Secretary Michael Heseltine revealed to the late Labour MP Paul  Flynn in a written answer  on 14 December 1992 that the Baghdad nuclear training centre -  established  in 1955 as part of the Bagdad Pact – and fully supported by the UK, was  “transferred to Tehran following the revolution in Iraq in 1959.” (Hansard, column 23: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199293/cmhansrd/1992-12-14/Writtens-3.html)

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