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IAEA Forms Nuclear Fuel Bank 224

Posted by timothy
from the no-withdrawals dept.
Kemeno writes "The International Atomic Energy Agency voted on Friday to form a nuclear fuel bank to help developing countries acquire nuclear fuel without having to enrich uranium themselves. Warren Buffet contributed 50 million dollars to a pool of 150 million with contributions from many different countries. The goal of the program is to provide countries with a source of low-grade enriched uranium suitable for fueling reactors but not for creating nuclear weapons."
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IAEA Forms Nuclear Fuel Bank

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  • This has to be the best addition to the IKEA catalog yet! Grab my tape measure, allen key and let's go shopping!

  • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @03:57AM (#34442000)

    Can you poison the fuel used in the rods so that it can't be used in weapons at all without starting the enrichment process over from the beginning? I understand that you need 70-90% U-235 for a weapon and only about 3% to run a reactor. But 3% enriched fuel is a better starting point for making a weapon than raw ore, is it not?

    • There's no need to worry about proliferation... Now excuse me...

      Come Mr. Bigglesworth

      *places pinky to mouth*
      • Why worry about proliferation? Isn't an armed society supposed to be a polite society? Or does that not extend to nation states, especially nation states apart from the US?
        • government solidly in control

          government elected by people

          people lack severe ethnic/religion/language/race bias

          not about to get blitzkreiged by a neighbor

          • So, the question remains. You oppose giving unstable states weapons of war - do you oppose giving unstable persons handguns? The logic is the same.
        • by DarkOx (621550)

          One thing about a free society is armed or not there is always going to be some level of violence. You just can't get around that unless you are just going to start collaring ever suspicious character and even then you will still have some crime. There are people who just don't think and act like the rest of us and the social factors of society are not going to result in the same behavior in those individuals that most of us exhibit.

          When it comes to people caring small arms I think an armed society is a p

          • So basically, arms control on individual level is bad, because you can't round up the usual suspects before proven guilty, and arms control on nation level is good, because you can round up the usual suspects before proven guilty?
    • I think you mean fuel dispersion. The 'fuel' is all going to be U-235.
    • by geogob (569250) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @04:22AM (#34442066)

      If you don't have enrichment capabilities, whether you start at 3% or at 0.1% is pretty much irrelevant. And assuming you could have those enrichment capabilities, using enough 3% enriched material to reach the 70-90% you state for a usable amount of weapon-grate material will required a huge quantity of low-grade fuel. This fuel quantity, most likely way above the consumption of your power plants, will raise red flags before you can do anything with it. Also, I bet someone will notice that not spent fuel rods come out of your reactors...

      The risk of someone in a 3rd world county of using this fuel in an enrichment process is ridiculously low. I would be more worried about the possibility to see this fuel disappear due to corruption or lack of proper security and see it end up in dirty bombs.

      Enrichment for weapon grade fuel production is way overrated and is more a modern political lever than a real threat.

      • Once you have reactor grade fuel, you can create plutonium. That only requires an easy chemical separation, so you won't be needing centrifuges.

        • by Iskender (1040286)

          Once you have reactor grade fuel, you can create plutonium. That only requires an easy chemical separation, so you won't be needing centrifuges.

          I don't know if this is the case, but I'll assume it's true. Luckily plutonium is tricky: there are several isotopes in it all the time, and no one separates them. Some of the isotopes want to do things that stop the runaway nuclear reaction.

          So uranium is ridiculously hard to enrich and plutonium is ridiculously hard to explode. We're very lucky this happens to be the case. North Korea's first nuclear test is widely regarded to have fizzled because they couldn't handle plutonium properly, for instance. It's

          • Re:the risk is high (Score:5, Informative)

            by MachineShedFred (621896) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @09:26AM (#34442888) Journal

            The problem with Pu is that only the 239 isotope is suitable for weapons, and if you have too much 240 or 241 (more than about 3%) then it isn't stable enough to fission when you want it to. Pu-240 and -241 spontaneously fission, leaving daughter products that absorb your neutrons.

            Isotopic separation isn't done with Plutonium because the atomic weights of the isotopes are too similar. Cascading centrifuges won't get the job done, and chemical separation won't get the job done.

            In order to create Pu-239 for weapons purposes, you have to use a ridiculously short fuel cycle in a specially configured reactor - it's quite obvious to the inspectors that will undoubtedly be required to be present should you sign contracts with the IAEA to get this fuel.

  • Excellent (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @03:59AM (#34442006)
    1. get clean energy to people in the developing world.
    2. getting rid of people who oppose nuclear power in the developed world.
    2. build nuclear plants.
    3. synthesising gasoline and diesel fuel [aaenvironment.com] with nuclear power.
    4. no more CO2!!! profit!

    Notice: no ?????? mark step.
  • by SteveMurphy (890510) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @05:03AM (#34442168) Homepage
    ...and leave a legacy that will improve life in smaller countries, he should champion the development of cheap, abundant, safe nuclear power in the form of the Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) [youtube.com]. Thorium is far more abundant than Uranium and the plants are potentially much smaller and cheaper.
  • So the only country that was filthy and retarded enough to use not one, but even two... is telling others that they can't have those same weapons? Sjee, I wonder why.
    • by quokkaZ (1780340)

      For a perspective on the role of nuclear weapons in US foreign policy see here: Empire and Nuclear Weapons [fpif.org]

      In addition to using nuclear weapons, the US has also threatened to use nuclear weapons on more occasions than all other nations combined.

      • by astar (203020)

        A basic reason nuke plants put out a lot of radioactive waste is the the rational solution of reprocessing the waste is very actively discouraged. Even the development of the tech has been discouraged. And the reason is fear of nuclear proliferation because most of the current fuel cycles produce plutonium. Hmm, this issue is also why we do not have a lot of breeder reactors and people complain there is not enough fuel to support nuclear energy. It happens that now a lot of countries existentially need

    • Perhaps, it's because, the more nations get nuclear weapons, the more likely that an incident will happen which escalates into the end of the world? Everyone on Earth should be worried about nuclear proliferation, not just the U.S. I don't want to debate whether the U.S. was right or wrong to use nuclear weapons to end WWII, because as a rule, I generally like to not take responsibility for the decisions of past generations, or to re-fight old wars. But, as a practical note, I will say this - when only one

      • As best I can tell, given the 99% kill everything figure, you are assuming a nuclear war would extinct homo sap sap? I think not. I figure there are some astronomical stuff that can do us, but doing ourselves? Not quite yet.

        End of the world stuff is popular with some now and I think the rhetoric should be avoided.. But for most people, say a 2 billion to 6 billion die off (over the next couple centuries) will *look* like the end of the world. But this is more a lack of tech then too much tech, or some

        • by JSBiff (87824)

          I've always heard that a major nuclear war, while it wouldn't kill off everything directly in the nuclear blasts, would kick up so much dust and ash that it would create a 'nuclear winter', with lack of sunlight killing off most of the plant life, with most of the animal life (including humans) dieing of radiation sickness and subsequent starvation. I suppose no one knows for sure, but I for one would rather not test the hypothesis on ourselves, to see who's right.

  • Borat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by theNAM666 (179776)

    Hello Nuclear Fuel Bank? My name Borat. I want make withdrawal, benefit my nation Tajikistan.

  • When there is deflation, this is good for the consumer as he or she gets more product per dollar. When there is inflation the opposite is true.

    Since we know nuclear fuel has a half-life, the currency these banks base their loans upon is deflating... While this is a bad thing for the bank, with a well supported backing this can only be good for the consumer!

    A deflating currency is a great investment, even if only in the short term. And regardless of the demand, it naturally will deflate!

    Half-life economic

  • TFA implies that nuclear fuel costs ~ $2 million/ton. And that 80 tons is needed 'to refuel one reactor'. Both seem awfully high to me. I always thought a reactor contained a few tons of Uranium at most.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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