Gordon Edwards: Helping build a nuclear weapons arsenal

Regarding the article, “New market for North’s uranium,” published in Northern Pride on April 23, 2013:

Dear Editor:

There is only one end-use application of uranium that absolutely requires uranium — and that is, nuclear weapons.  There are many ways of producing electricity without uranium, and medical isotopes can also be manufactured by alternative methods that do not require uranium.  But without uranium, there would be no nuclear weapons
of any description whatsoever.

Plutonium is the primary nuclear explosive in the world’s nuclear warheads, and it does not exist in nature — it is produced directly from uranium.  When an atom of uranium-238 absorbs a stray  neutron inside a nuclear reactor, it is transformed into an atom of plutonium-239.  Since plutonium-239 has a 24,000 year half-life it can be used to make atomic bombs or other nuclear weapons for thousands of years to come — long after all the paper safeguards agreements have rotted away into nothingness.

Even if India does not use Saskatchewan uranium directly for nuclear weapons, there is no doubt that selling India our uranium will help them build up their nuclear weapons arsenal.  They can now dedicate their own indigenous uranium to military purposes — uranium that  otherwise would have  been needed for civilian purposes. And the plutonium stockpiles of the Indian government will continue to grow as Saskatchewan uranium is gradually converted into plutonium.

Already the “civilian” stockpiles of plutonium in India are so great that if that plutonium were used in  nuclear warheads, India would have a larger nuclear arsenal than Great Britain — one of the five major nuclear weapons states in the world.

Do Canadians think that the rest of the world is stupid?  Is it not obvious that our denunciation of North Korea for developing nuclear weapons and our condemnation of Iran for enriching uranium is based on a hypocritical double standard?  Is it OK for some countries, like India,  to build their own nuclear arsenals,  thereby increasing the threat of global annihilation and making a  nuclear weapons-free world ever more difficult to achieve, as long  as Cameco can make some money by selling them uranium?

We will never have a sustainable world if we continue to turn a blind eye to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction fueled by uranium.

Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Montreal Quebec.

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