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Controversial nuclear technology alarms watchdogs
SILEX, or laser enrichment, is a direct conduit to proliferation and must not be allowed. The idea that it will save money at the cost of even greater nuclear insecurity than exists already; and that this excuses the tremendous risk it creates, is unnacceptable. That the NRC refused to consider proliferation danger at all, even though they are required to do so, is yet more proof they are merely the extended arm of the nuclear industry.
A controversial nuclear technology is raising alarms bells among critics who claim it may be better suited for making nuclear weapons than lowering the cost of nuclear power and could lead to a nonproliferation “Fukushima” for the United States.
SILEX (separation of isotopes by laser excitation) is a method for enriching uranium with lasers. It was developed by Australian scientists during the mid 1990’s as a way to reduce the cost of nuclear fuel, because uranium must be processed before it can be used to generate power.
The scientists formed Silex Systems to license the technology for commercialization, and that process is still ongoing. In 2000, the governments of Australia and the United States signed a treaty, giving the U.S. authority to review whether SILEX should be deployed.
That’s because there could be a major proliferation problem. ..
R. SCOTT KEMP | 30 JULY 2012
- SILEX is a new enrichment technology that happens to be well suited for making nuclear weapons. The benefits of commercializing SILEX are not yet established, but the proliferation risks are significant.
- Dozens of countries are poised to copy SILEX if a US project demonstrates that the technology can be built on a commercial scale. The technical barriers, to the extent they exist, are not likely to endure the test of time.
- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has refused to consider the proliferation risk in its decision to issue a license for the first commercial SILEX facility, despite a statutory obligation to do so. Only a few weeks remain for Congress to intervene.