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North Korea Will Soon Have the Makings for 20 Nukes

It's producing 330 pounds of enriched uranium per year: report

(Newser) - If it doesn't already , North Korea will have the makings for 20 nuclear bombs by the end of the year, experts predict in a new report. The country is believed to be producing 330 pounds of highly enriched uranium per year at one or two sites—enough for six... More »

North Korea Is Back Producing Plutonium

Yongbyon reactor could yield 13 pounds per year

(Newser) - North Korea is showing no signs of abandoning its quest for nuclear weapons. A State Department official tells Reuters the country has restarted a 5-megawatt nuclear reactor at its main nuclear complex at Yongbyon to get plutonium. The International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday there were "indications" that was... More »

A Sophomoric Prank Lurks on the Periodic Table

Check out the abbreviation for plutonium

(Newser) - There’s nothing funny about plutonium. After all, it’s the stuff that makes nuclear weapons go boom. Nonetheless, the man credited with discovering the element named for the dwarf planet Pluto did manage to use the occasion to sneak a little levity onto the periodic table of elements, National ... More »

Japan to US: Have Our Nuclear Cache

Japan to hand over plutonium, uranium to be converted into ' less sensitive forms'

(Newser) - A big win for President Obama: Japan today announced it will hand over some 700 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium as well as an estimated 450 pounds of highly enriched uranium to the US, reports the New York Times , which calls it the "biggest single success in President Obama's... More »

White Steam Spotted at N. Korea Reactor

Satellite image suggests Pyongyang is probably restarting reactor

(Newser) - A fresh satellite image shows white steam coming from a building in North Korea, and a US research group says that likely means the country is nearly ready to restart a reactor capable of producing plutonium—or may have already started it. "The white coloration and volume are consistent... More »

Iran May Be Building a Different Kind of Bomb

US and European officials fear switch to plutonium

(Newser) - There's more than one way to skin an atom, and apparently Iran is trying them all. The rogue state may have weapons grade plutonium by next summer, US and European officials tell the Wall Street Journal , which is something of a surprise, given that until now the international community... More »

Iran's Nuclear 'Plan B': Plutonium

Until now, international powers have been focusing on uranium

(Newser) - The Telegraph has details today of what it calls Iran's "Plan B," a second path to creating a nuclear bomb: New satellite images show that Iran has activated its Arak heavy-water production plant; heavy water could eventually power a nuclear reactor that would produce plutonium for bomb-making.... More »

US Steps up Spying on Iran Nuke Reactor

Concerned about safety at Bushehr

(Newser) - Concerned over fuel rods that were unexpectedly discharged in October, the US has increased spying on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor, officials tell the Wall Street Journal . Spent fuel from Bushehr was supposed to be returned to Russia, which commissioned and built the reactor, so the US was surprised when... More »

Despite Fuel Rods, Iran Is No Closer to Bomb

Announcement likely a posturing technique

(Newser) - If you were freaking out about Iran’s recent announcement that it had developed nuclear fuel rods , relax: Tehran probably isn’t any closer to a nuclear weapon than it was before, experts tell Reuters . While spent plutonium fuel rods can be used to make bombs, the West’s concern... More »

Explosion Rocks Nuclear Waste Site in France

At least one dead, three injured

(Newser) - An explosion hit the Marcoule nuclear plant in southern France today, killing at least one person and injuring three others, the BBC reports. The site handles nuclear waste and recycles plutonium from nuclear weapons into MOX fuel, but does not include any reactors. The explosion occurred near a furnace, but... More »

Japanese PM: We're on 'Maximum Alert'

But experts say fear over plutonium in soil may be overblown

(Newser) - With fears escalating over the plutonium leaking into the soil around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, Japanese officials sounded a cautious note today, with Prime Minister Naoto Kan telling lawmakers that the government would “tackle the problem while in a state of maximum alert,” according to the Economic Times... More »

Plutonium Seeping from Fukushima

Traces of highly toxic substance found outside plant

(Newser) - Highly toxic plutonium is seeping from the damaged nuclear power plant in Japan's tsunami disaster zone into the soil outside, officials said Tuesday, heightening concerns about the expanding spread of radiation. Plutonium was detected at several spots outside the Fukushima plant—the first confirmed presence of the dangerously radioactive substance,... More »

Ahmadinejad Ramps Up Iran's Plutonium Production

About-face from last week's willingness to cooperate with UN plan

(Newser) - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered his country's atomic agency today to begin the production of higher enriched uranium, in a move that's likely to deepen international skepticism about Iran's real nuclear intentions. On state television, Ahmadinejad said: "God willing, 20% enrichment will start" to meet Iran's needs. The comments fly in... More »

North Korea Will 'Weaponize' All Plutonium Stocks

(Newser) - North Korea has for the first time openly confirmed that it is seeking to enrich uranium for the development of nuclear weapons, the BBC reports. The state news agency today announced that the nation plans to “weaponize” its plutonium stocks, and will consider any “blockade” attempts by the... More »

New Reactors Could Boost Pakistan's Nuclear Arsenal

US hasn't fought massive project amid national turmoil

(Newser) - Pakistan is building two of the largest plutonium-producing reactors in the developing world—facilities that experts say could bolster the nuclear arsenal of a country fraught with turmoil. The US hasn’t publicly condemned the project, MSNBC reports, even though it makes Pakistan “the only country rapidly building up... More »

N Korea Relaunches Nuke Plant

Country makes disclosure hours after UN sanctions announced

(Newser) - North Korea has begun harvesting weapons-grade plutonium from its spent nuclear fuel rods, the BBC reports. The official announcement comes on the heels of UN sanctions against three North Korean companies accused of helping the country with its long-range rocket launch earlier this month. Pyongyang called the sanctions—which freeze... More »

Wanted: Small Amounts of Plutonium

US agency ferrets out unused radioactive sources

(Newser) - The country is crawling with unused radioactive material, and it’s up to the little-known National Nuclear Security Administration to dispose of it, the Los Angeles Times reports. They're not after warheads, but small amounts of plutonium used in medical and technological pursuits in more than 130 countries, as even... More »

North Korea Threatens to 'Shatter' South

Pyongyang claims to have plutonium for 4 nuclear bombs

(Newser) - North Korea threatened to “shatter” South Korea today as reports surfaced that Pyongyang may have enough plutonium stocks to produce at least four nuclear bombs, the Guardian reports. The North said rising hostilities with Seoul compelled it to take “an all-out confrontational posture” over a disputed maritime border... More »

North Korea Threatens to Sever Ties With South

Calls South Korean government 'traitors'

(Newser) - North Korea is threatening to sever ties with South Korea in a war of words that has plunged relations between the partitioned neighbors to a new low, Reuters reports. North Korean officials are upset about hardline policies of South Korea's conservative government.  "If the traitors keep to the... More »

US May Yank N. Korea Off Terror List

Strategy to restart nuclear diplomacy

(Newser) - The US is expected to provisionally remove North Korea from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, possibly as early as today, reports the Washington Post. It may be the Bush administration's last "carrot" to offer as diplomatic efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear... More »

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