Sunday, February 19, 2012

Futurist Gerald Celente Proposes that Iran Use Thorium Fission

Russia has intentionally maneuvered Iran to the brink of war over its nuclear reactor program, in order to help raise global oil prices. With Russia's unflagging assistance, Iran is processing its uranium ore so as to produce highly enriched uranium. The most likely indications are that Iran will have enough enriched uranium to build fission bombs in the near future -- again, with Russia's assistance.

Russia is the main beneficiary of the run-up to war and oil market instability -- its oil profits are keeping its corrupt government afloat. China is a secondary beneficiary, able to buy Iranian oil at a significant markdown. The Iranian people are the big losers, sinking into poverty, drug addiction, and despair.

It is at this time that Gerald Celente -- celebrated futurist and forward thinker -- proposes that Iran turn away from the U235 cycle, to the Thorium cycle. The thorium cycle is much less prone to nuclear weapons concerns. As a bonus, if Iran perfected a modern-day thorium cycle reactor, it would be well positioned to market the technology to any number of other nations.

More from Celente:
The Celente Solution: If Iran is sincere that it seeks only peaceful uses for its nuclear energy, the crisis can easily be defused.

The problem isn’t that Iran seeks nuclear power. The problem is that, like the rest of the world, Iran has made a poor choice of nuclear fuel.

Uranium, the fuel that runs the world’s nuclear reactors, is lethal even when it’s not packed in a bomb. It’s absurdly complicated to handle, its behavior is touchy and unpredictable, and its waste is fatal to humans for millions of years after we’ve wrung the small amount of energy from it that our technology allows.

Instead, Iran can follow the lead of China, India, Brazil, and other nations and turn to thorium.

Thorium is an obscure, mildly radioactive metal produced as a waste product from the mining of rare earth minerals. This waste sits in piles on the ground in China, which produces most of the world’s rare earths; it’s locked away underground in most other countries, which have followed the US’s lead in banning the mining of rare earths because the process produces radioactive waste – in the form of thorium.

Yet when thorium was tested as a nuclear fuel in the 1950s, it was found to be both cleaner and safer than uranium. It can’t melt down or spontaneously explode when a “critical mass” of it is piled up; and it produces mainly alpha radiation, which is so weak that it can’t penetrate skin. Although thorium does produce a trace of radioactive waste that endures for billions of years, the amount is vastly smaller than uranium’s leavings.

Thorium also is more easily accessible around the world than uranium and more plentiful – it’s about three times as abundant as tin. In theory, a lump of thorium the size of a golf ball could supply the lifetime energy needs of a typical American – and more than that of an Iranian.

Even better, the technology to produce thorium is close at hand. International Thorium Energy & Molten Salt Technology, Inc., a private Japanese firm, intends to produce a 10-kilowatt thorium reactor within five years. China and India also are engineering thorium reactors. With some re-engineering, thorium even can be combined with uranium to make cleaner, longer-lived fuel rods for conventional nuclear reactors already in service.

In the years it would take Iran to build a conventional nuclear reactor, with its hundred-foot cooling towers and thousands of miles of plumbing, the nation could make a factory to turn out small thorium reactors. Iran has modest rare earth deposits and China, as Iran’s largest trading partner, could easily supply the reactors’ fuel. China and also India could share their growing technical expertise with Iran, not over international objections but with the approval of the rest of the world.

These small generators would present no regional or global threat and would serve Iran’s internal needs even more effectively than its current plan: the smaller thorium reactors can be made relatively quickly, with consistent quality, in a factory and then shipped and installed right where power is needed – at a factory, a mine, a military base, or as an incremental addition to a conventional generating plan. Iran could quickly achieve a strategic goal of western nations: the simultaneous expansion and decentralization of the electrical grid.

As is often the case, the current crisis is an opportunity. If Iran truly wants only peaceful nuclear power, it can choose thorium as its nuclear option … and the US, Israel, the EU and other nations can choose peace. _Gerald Celente
Celente's proposal is certainly an ambitious one, an idea that would change the world for the better if it were carried out.

Unfortunately, Russia will not permit such a rational smoothing of the Iranian crisis -- a crisis which Russia itself is propping up and enlarging. Russia's corrupt kleptocracy, and its massive ambitions for global power demand that global oil prices be driven ever higher.

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