Britain allowed nuclear cargo to be sent to Iran
2 hours, 21 minutes ago
Britain has allowed the export to Iran of a cargo of radioactive material that experts believe could be used by the Islamic Republic as part of a nuclear weapons programme.
The newspaper said a truck carrying 1,000 kilogrammes (2,204 pounds) of zirconium silicate from a British firm was stopped by customs officials in Bulgaria at the border with Turkey.
It quoted an expert as saying that zirconium metal can be extracted from the substance, whose trade is usually tightly regulated, and used to prevent fuel rods corroding in nuclear reactors and as part of a nuclear warhead.
But the truck, which had travelled unchecked from Britain through Germany and Romania without being stopped, was allowed to continue its journey to Tehran after a two-month investigation found an export licence was not needed.
British and Bulgarian officials in Sofia reportedly looked into whether the cargo had breached technical rules on how much of the substance contained another rare metal, hafnium.
The Observer Sunday quoted a Department of Trade and Industry spokeswoman as saying analysis of levels of hafnium in the substance meant a licence was not required.
"This particular case raise no WMD (weapons of mass destruction) end-use concerns," she added.
The Observer's dispatch came as Iran looked set to end its two-and-a-half year suspension of nuclear fuel research Monday or Tuesday, despite calls not to from the international community, including the European Union.
Talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government are currently deadlocked over the issue, with the West fearing Iran's fledgling nuclear programme is a front for developing atomic weapons.
Independent nuclear consultant John Large told The Observer: "It is not a very sophisticated process to extract the zirconium from such material.
"Even though it appears that technically this cargo does not fall within the international controls, I would still be concerned.
"Zirconium is used for two purposes: one for cladding nuclear fuel rods inside a reactor and as a material for a nuclear weapon.
"If Iran wanted this material for any illicit purposes, this would be one way it could get its hands on it."
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Time to invade (liberate?) Britian.
Kind of a sensationalist topic title.
Zirconium Silicate is used for all kinds of stuff, and most zirconium metal is extracted from baddeleyite, which is Zirconium Dioxide. It is not 'nuclear cargo', even if it had a high percentage of hafnium.
That and you can buy zirconium and hafnium over the internet fairly simply. Not exactly tightly regulated.
Can even get rings made of zirconium:
No real reason to shit a brick over this in particular.
I used the title of the story as the thread title... I didn't make up the title.
And in other news huge fusion reactor in the sky spewing tons of radioactive material daily, why hasn’t President Bush shut it down?
People in the press aren’t the sharpest toll in the shed. You can call a light bulb a radiant device and they will think it’s a nuclear device.
Does the "fact" (I term I use loosely in this response) that they're driving this cargo aross Europe and into the not seem a little odd to anyone else?