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The Canadian Nuclear FAQ  

by Dr. Jeremy Whitlock


Response from Gordon Edwards to Jeremy Whitlock's 2008 Jan. 27nd letter in The Calgary Herald regarding nuclear proliferation risks.

(published in the 2008 Jan 31 edition)


Plutonium Half-Truths

To the Editor,

Re: "Just the facts" Jan. 27.

By telling only half the truth, Jeremy Whitlock of AECL is misleading Canadians about the proliferation dangers of plutonium produced in power reactors.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) defines any type of reactor-produced plutonium as weapons-usable material and requires all plutonium be guarded with the same degree of security.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences stated in 1994: "It would be quite possible for a potential proliferator to make a nuclear explosive from reactor-grade plutonium using a simple design that would be assured of having a yield in the range of one to a few kilotons, and more using an advanced design. Theft of separated plutonium, whether weapons-grade or reactor-grade, would pose a grave security risk."

The U.S. Department of Energy reported in 1997: "Virtually any combination of plutonium isotopes" can be used to make a nuclear weapon. Reactor-grade plutonium is weapons-usable, whether by unsophisticated proliferators or by advanced nuclear weapon states.

If criminal or terrorist organizations gain access to reactor-grade plutonium, it is foolish to think they will not use it. The U.S. military exploded a bomb made of reactor-grade plutonium in 1962 to emphasize that point.

My information is not opinion based upon popular literature. I have been qualified as an expert witness on nuclear matters by federal courts in Canada and the U.S., by a number of Royal Commissions of Inquiry, by the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency.

Gordon Edwards, Hampstead, Que.

Gordon Edwards is president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

[Response from Jeremy Whitlock]


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