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WEAPONS-GRADE URANIUM USED IN CHALK RIVER FOR ISOTOPE PRODUCTION

by Gordon Edwards

An important aspect of the isotope-production fiasco that is hardly ever mentioned in the news is the fact that AECL uses weapons-grade uranium (95 percent enriched) to produce the main isotope (Molybdenum-99) that everyone in the field of nuclear medicine was upset about.

This is a very dangerous practice and should be discontinued.

Weapons-grade uranium is the stuff that was used in the Hiroshima bomb. It is much easier to make a bomb with weapons-grade uranium than with plutonium; a very power-ful bomb could be made with much less stringent engineering requirements. It is immediately weapons-usable material.

The only stockpile of weapons-grade uranium in Canada is in Ottawa/Chalk River for isotope production, and there is enough stockpiled for two or more atomic bombs.

Molybdenum-99 can be made using low-enriched uranium which is NOT weapons-usable material, but it would cost more. Argentina, for example, makes all of its molybdenum-99 from low-enriched uranium.

For more on this issue see:

http://www.nci.org/02NCI/08/nrc-heulet-9132002.htm

http://www.nci.org/heu.htm

http://www.energyprobe.org/energyprobe/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=4353