Friday, October 26, 2007

Iran's Nuclear Program and the CANDU

Does anybody know what kind of reactors are being built these days for power outside of the U.S.? Light-water reactors are still the norm, right?

Since my first year of high school debate ("Resolved: The United States should pursue energy independence." Sheesh! If only...) I've had a soft spot for HTGRs and CANDU reactors. I guess the former is out since 9/11 (don't they require highly-enriched fuel?)...but what about CANDUs? They run on low-grade fuel--even spent fuel from LWRs. (I think I even read somewhere that they can even run on U238?? Is this possible?)

So, anyway: how's about we tell the Iranians we'll help 'em build some CANDUs if they'll stop, ya know, enriching freaking uranium? It's a kind of gesture of good will and in our national interest.

Too wishy-washy for the uberhawks, I guess...

(I myself think millions for defense but not one cent for if this is too much like tribute, then I'm against it.)


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Good idea.

The US has let the Europeans take the lead in the diplomacy on this over the past 4 or 5 years. Been there, done that.

Perhaps it's that Iran just wants a bomb. It's a possibility...

1:32 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Right...but the point is that CANDUs require no enrichment at all, as I understand it. As long as they're using LWRs, there's at least plausible deniability re: enrichment. With CANDUs, nope.

But it's probably become mostly a power struggle now. Hell, if somebody with a gun told me that I couldn't have one, I'd probably go buy one even if I didn't particularly want it...

So, (bad Iran) + (bad U.S. diplomacy) + (bullying) = (big trouble)

Time fer another WAR, YEE-HAW! I can smell them dubya-em-dees from here!

3:06 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

(bad Iran) + (bad U.S. diplomacy) + (bullying) = (big trouble)

It's my view, contra Chris Matthews, that the administration's recent heating up of the rhetoric against the mullahs is directed at Europe, which as we've seen, has been ineffective handling this their way, with all carrot and no stick.

Israel's recent takeout of what appears to be a nascent nuclear program by Iran's client state Syria is where the action is. The administration has been quite low-key about it, and of course, its opponents throughout the world are happy to ignore it.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Winston writes:
> I think I even read somewhere that they can even run on U238?? Is this possible?

No. And the CANDU uses a smaller fraction of total U235 than enriched uranium reactors.

There is research on using 238 as a fission source, but that's the CAESAR, based in UMaryland. It has many skeptics...

The only currently practical reactors that make sense to me are breeders, since they actually use close to 100% of the total uranium rather than ~5%. Yes, they have a downside of producing plutonium, but:

First we got the bomb and that was good,
'Cause we love peace and motherhood.
Then Russia got the bomb, but that's O.K.,
'Cause the balance of power's maintained that way!
Who's next?

France got the bomb, but don't you grieve,
'Cause they're on our side (I believe).
China got the bomb, but have no fears;
They can't wipe us out for at least five years!
Who's next?

- mac

Egypt's gonna get one, too,
Just to use on you know who.
So Israel's getting tense,
Wants one in self defense.
"The Lord's our shepherd," says the psalm,
But just in case, we better get a bomb!
Who's next?

4:05 PM  

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