Vulnerability of nuclear reactors during times of war and other attack

Historic military attacks upon nuclear reactors and nuclear facilities

Allied bombing of Germany during the 1940s destroyed German test reactors. Raid by Allied forces late in World War 2 resulted in the theft of German uranium stored in Belgium. The multiple German reactor and enrichment programs were dispersed as a result. The US ALSOS missions in the post war era documented both the effect of Allied bombing upon the German uranium enrichment and reactor programs. The environmental consequences of Allied bombing upon German reactor and uranium enrichment sites remains undisclosed to this day.

The US bombing of Japan, and in particular the target selection of the atomic bombing campaign implies that the US was plainly aware of the logistic patterns and transport routes used by the Japanese special weapons unit, known as Unit 731. This unit undertook radiological weapons research as well as chemical and biological weapons research and use. The Headquarters of Unit 731 was located in Hiroshima City. The main chemical weapon production base of this Unit was located in Hiroshima Prefecture on Okunoshima Island, less than 20 minutes flying time by US Boeing B29 bomber. The transport route taken from Okunoshima Island to the battlefields of Asia, primarily China was via truck and railroad to the city of Kokura, where the final assembly of Japanese mustard gas and lewisite artillery shells took place prior to shipment. Kokura was selected as the primary target for the second US atomic attack upon Japan. Kokura was spared the atomic bombing because the city was clouded over. Nagasaki and the people there became the victims of the second atomic bomb used in war.

Throughout the war against Japan, the US steadily increased its ability to bomb the enemy land. Both conventional bombing and fire bombing caused, as in Germany, the 3 (Army, Navy, Air Force) Japanese nuclear programs – there were dispersed. As in Germany the disruption caused major difficulties for the Japanese nuclear weapons programs. Conventional histories of events inside Japan state that Japan formally abandoned its nuclear programs in July 1945. According to the Japanese nuclear scientist, the late Sakae Shimizu, the experiments in uranium photo-fission at Kyoto University were for basic, not applied, science. The US military did not see the program in that light. General Farrell’s occupation troops main a beeline for the Kyoto uranium lab. The first thing the US troops did was to destroy the cyclotron which was under construction there. The second thing they did was confiscate all the Japanese nuclear experiment data. This data also included the radiological data of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Kyoto scientists had recorded in their lengthy surveys of that city. Some of these documents have not yet been returned to Japan, some were used in the US chemical and biological warfare research in the Cold War era. The US Occupation Force and the subservient Japan authorities censored the Japanese scientists and the early Japanese radiation surveys of Hiroshima and Nagaski were censored, prohibited and kept by the Occupation Forces. Human tissue samples and soil samples taken from Japan by the US were not returned until the late 1970s. While Japan did not envisage nuclear weapons being a reality during World War 2, they considered nuclear research worthwhile for use in future wars.

Germany however, with its multiple nuclear weapons programs, including research teams each devoted to a total of 7 different possible routes for enriching uranium into bomb grade fuel, and together with at least 3 different bomb project research teams (only one of which was taken to the UK for interrogation post war) had a very different view. This is evidenced by the following incident: “Tales from the Atomic Age— Paul W. Frame (former Curator, Oak Ridge Universities Museum)
“U-234 was a type XB submarine, the largest class of German U-boat ever constructed. Of the eight that had been built, only U-234 and U-219 remained. The other six had paid a heavy price for their slow speed and lack of maneuverability (Helgason 1996).

Lieutenant Johann “Dynamite” Fehler, who had previously served on the infamous raider “Atlantis,” was in command. In addition to his crew, Fehler was responsible for an important group of passengers: monocled Lieutenant General Ulrich Kesssler of the Luftwaffe; Colonels Sandrat and Neishling, also of the Luftwaffe; civilian rocket and jet experts; and most mysterious of all, Lieutenant Commanders Hideo Tomonaga and Genzo Shoji of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Fehler’s mission: transport personnel and materials to Japan to support its war against the Allies. The final days of the Reich might be at hand, but what assistance could be provided Japan, would be provided. With a mission of such importance, Fehler had to avoid any possible contact with the enemy; U-234 ran deep and continuously submerged for two weeks after leaving Kristiansand. Only after making it through the English Channel into the Atlantic did Fehler feel sufficiently confident to surface for two hours each night

But events were at work beyond Fehler’s control. On May 10, the U-234 picked up a fatal shortwave transmission, Doenitz’s announcement of Germany’s surrender: “My U-boat men . . . you have fought like lions . . . lay down your arms.” Instructions were given to proceed to the nearest allied port, but U-234 was so positioned that several possible destinations existed. Fehler decided to head to the United States. Unwilling to be captured, Hideo Tomonaga and Genzo Shoji committed suicide. On May 14, an American boarding party took over and directed the U-234 to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Despite tight security, the arrival of U-234 at the docks became a major news event. Considerable coverage was devoted to the ship’s most illustrious passenger, Ulrich Kessler, e.g., “typical Hollywood version of a German general . . . as he strutted off the gangplank he casually looked around . . . and swaggered to a waiting bus. He wore a long leather great coat which reached to his ankles, highly polished leather boots and an Iron Cross.” Much of U-234’s top secret cargo, 240 tons of documents and war materials, was shipped to Washington and opened out of sight of the press’s cameras. A good deal was what might be expected, e.g., armor piercing antiaircraft shells. There were surprises, e.g., two Me-262 jet fighters. But, the biggest surprise of all came when 10 containers marked “Japanese Army” were opened. They contained 560 kg of uranium oxide!

Had the uranium reached its probable destinations, Osaka and the Riken Laboratory in Tokyo, enrichment via thermal diffusion might have been attempted.* Successfully enriched, the product would have been, by activity, mostly U-234!

Postscript: When General Groves, head of the U.S. atomic bomb effort, first learned of this submarine, it seems he was mistakenly informed that it was designated U-235, an idea that almost gave him “apoplexy.”


Helgason, G.

* Given the effort devoted to coordinating the shipment of so much uranium, this was probably the intention. However, a few days before the U-234 set out on its journey, the Riken Lab was destroyed by Allied bombing. What would have been done with the uranium had it reached Japan is unknown.

[Since this story was written, a substantial amount of new information has become available. Much of this can be found in the fascinating video, “U-234 – Hitler’s Last U-boat.” It seems possible, but by no means certain, that the captured uranium was sent to Oak Ridge and processed to help make the fuel for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. ]” end partial quote.

We ordinary people in 2018 still do not know the full consequences of war upon the Axis nuclear program, nor do we even know the full impact of the atomic bombing of Japan. For instance, even though there were US long range planes (at least four of them) in the air watching the Hiroshima bomb cloud, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb clouds are the only ones for which no fallout cloud tracking map have ever been released to the public. It is time that the fallout cloud paths from WW2 are known by the public.

What became of the contamination released from Axis nuclear research labs by allied bombing in WW2?

We are fairly familiar with the contaminated sites in the USA. Sites falsely proclaimed as safe and clean in 1945 but which continue to cost millions in clean up costs today and which continue to pose hazards of various kinds. Such as Hanford.

War and nuclear technology do not go well together. In World War 2 US nuclear facilities were out of range of Axis bombs and rockets. This is not the case today, and as the US nuclear fleet once expanded, the risks war today are very great. For an enemy with an average missile fleet or bomber fleet, armed only with conventional penetration bombs and missiles could render every reactor site and fuel site in the US a radiological weapon of huge health consequence for the entire continent and hemisphere.

In terms of global war, not just a war between Trump and Korea, multiply the radiological effects many many many times. In terms of fallout but not of explosive power, a successful attack upon the reactors of the Western Alliance in the Northern Hemisphere will make the contamination Hiroshima and Nagasaki and places downwind (up to the present time, still officially undisclosed) look paltry.

And that brings me back to the late Prof. Shimuzu and his recollections of his monitoring of both fallout and neutron activation products in August – September 1945 (when he fell ill with radiation sickness, even though he was not present in Hiroshima until after the bomb was dropped (he was in Kyoto). In 1982 Shimizu published his recollections. It is entitled “Historical sketch of the scientific field survey of Hiroshima several days after the bombing” by Prof Sakae Shimizu, 1982, published by Bulletin of the Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University, Volume 60, (2), 1982. My commentary of it is here: In his work, Prof Shimizu published his findings of Phosphorous 32 in both animal and human bone within Hiroshima after the bomb. The table of the findings of this and other neutron activation products in tissue and objects affected by the Hiroshima bomb reveals the story as transmitted to the common person by authorities since 1945 as a sham. Knowing that Shimizu’s survey documents had been seized and suppressed, it was easy for General Groves to claim as “enemy propaganda” reports of a strange and lethal sickness that had been killing Japanese victims of the atomic bomb from the second month after the bomb was dropped. Many such people had not suffered any physical blast injury or impact. They were well until about the fifth week, after which more and more people reported to the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital, most of whom later died. The Hiroshima doctors noted strange things. Those who had been resting when the bomb detonated and who were out of blast range were more likely to survive this strange late onset illness than people who, at the same distance and with the same shielding considerations, were working hard building fire breaks – a project being undertaken in all Japanese cities. Hiroshima, which had never been bombed, was expecting a raid. But it was not expecting an atomic bomb.

Until the full facts of the exposures suffered by the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are properly to the people of the world by the so called Honest Johns of the nuclear elite, we ordinary people will continue to be unaware of the actual hazards and will continue to under estimate the impact of bomb neutron rays and to over estimate the effects per unit of absorbed dose of gamma and x rays. Somehow or another, the industry goes along with the official line, designed in 1945 by Groves to save the USA from universal and persistent condemnation. neutron rays + human bone = radioactive P32 in bone. This internal emitter, created and placed not by fallout, but by neutron transmutation of the atoms within bone itself proves the bomb to be a vehicle of radio-chemical warfare. Under many treaties, nuclear weapons must be consider chemical weapons. For that is what they are. We could learn much from a full according of the nuclear related actions undertaken by the military forces of all sides in that global contest. One day, such a global conflict will again take place. No war has ever ended war. In fact, the use of the atomic bomb the United States and its Allies against victims who are and were, in the vast bulk, civilian changed the nature of warfare for the rest of time. It has been since then, apparently, “civilised” and “legitimate” to wage war of any kind against location of deemed military value even when populated entirely by non-combatants. Many questions remain from the World War 2 actions in regard to nuclear technology and by the use of nuclear technology. What units, under command of ALSOS, took part in the confiscation of German nuclear fuel from Belgium in the closing days of the war in Europe? Where did it go? What is the full story behind it? We know of the progress of one German nuclear bomb program – the key members of which were held and interrogated at Farm Hall in England. What about the other German bomb programs, including the many enrichment ones? Why were the German reactors so small and numerous? Were they basically uranium heat sources for proposed silent long range U boats? Could the Germans, using quantum physics, directly transmute substances into plutonium without the use of what we consider to be conventional nuclear means? Why didn’t Germany and Japan deploy radiological weapons as Groves and many others feared they would – as documented in the scant records of the result Operation Peppermint? Where did the fallout from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs fallout in downwind Japan? Are the “control” populations of Japan for comparison with bomb survivors scientifically selected or were they selected in ignorance or indeed because of their un admitted delayed fallout exposures? Why has the August 1945 bomb fallout maps never been released – the skies over Hiroshima were clear of Japanese fighters, and 4 long range US aircraft were in the air that day. Why was the reality of delayed onset radiation sickness induced by neutron ray exposure denied for so very long by US and allied nuclear authorities post WW2? I am just an ordinary and ignorant buffoon according to the nuclear advocates who tell me I should not read the academic texts that I do. They tell me they do not believe in democracy but in their own merit, which entitles them to adjudicate me and limit, merely by their command, in public forums, my reading list. These are the people who would have me help pay for the construction of nuclear reactor here. We dont need one nor do we want one. And that has been demonstrated most clearly in recent months by the government led community discussion and Royal Commission in these things. The advocates proposed that a Westinghouse-Toshiba AP 1000 reactor be built in Port Australia. The slight barrier there is that no such reactor has yet contributed to the power in the grid anywhere in the world, safety concerns of the design have delayed such a reactor in recent days in China, Toshiba and Westinghouse have both become such smoking economic failures than their names are about to be forgotten. This despite the 2011 statement to the Japanese stock exchange that the nuclear industry “could afford a Fukushima Diiachi event every 30 years”. No it cannot, and neither can the world nor the actual sane humans who live in it.

The history of nuclear technology since 1942 remains quite deliberately shrouded in secrecy and even the current US Atomic Energy Act forbids full disclosure about the disposition of certain “special materials” (enriched uranium and plutonium” within civil nuclear reactors. Any such suppression of facts by a non nuclear company would see it be banished from the world’s stock exchanges.

“Immediately after the bombings, high-level U.S. officials publicly — and adamantly — rebuffed news reports about the bombs’ horrific aftereffects. Gen. Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bombs, dismissed these reports as propaganda, even as he sent teams to measure radiation levels to ensure the safety of U.S. troops about to enter both cities. Later that year, Groves testified before the U.S. Senate that death from high-dose radiation exposure is “without undue suffering” and “a very pleasant way to die.” L.A. Times, By SUSAN SOUTHARD AUG 07, 2015 It is in the suppression of the contribution neutron ray induced radio Phosphorous 32 and the actual consequences suffered in Hiroshima and Nagasaki that I believe that the school of “radiation is good for you, in fact it’s like a vitamin” fake medicine arose. Attributing all effects to gamma alone, ignoring downwinder Japanese people,ignoring sections of the Hiroshima populations living in areas affected by the black rain, but which were actually and knowingly affected all contribute to a continuing transmission of the US wartime mythology of the atomic bombs. The history of nuclear technology since 1945 is a history of suppression and it remains so.

“Pash had a long record in intelligence activities, having
commanded the Alsos Mission at the end of the war. As the Third Reich crumbled,
Pash’s Alsos task force located German scientists with knowledge about atomic research in order to keep them from passing the information to the Soviets. Pash continued his intelligence activities after leaving OPC and had a wide range of contacts. The Agency, however, could not determine whether Colonel Pash—whose name had been publicized in the course of the Church Committee hearings in 1975—had any official or unofficial relationship with Trifa. ….

“—Colonel Boris T. Pash,” 12 September 1978, OLC 78-4034/1, (C), in OGC Records, Job, Box 2, Folder 30, CIA ARC. For further information of his wartime activities, see Boris T. Pash, The Alsos Mission (New York: Award House, 1969).” end quote. Source: CIA declassified draft paper: “NAZI WAR CRIMES RESEARCH REPORT (K. RUFFNER)” The behind the lines actions of ALSOS prior to the end of WW2 remains largely suppressed, as does the name and full activity of one British agent who actively worked to thwart the Nazi bomb projects. Only his code name, The Griffin, is widely known. There is strong evidence that Britain and the USA were expecting a German fission discovery long before Hahn reported it to the editor of the German organ of the science journal Nature in 1939. It is suspected by many that the editor concerned was The Griffin. Not much googling is needed to find the name of the agent. In fact Hahn phoned him on the night of the discovery in December 1938. At that time, British intelligence were already arranging with the Belgian Minister for the Congo for the shipment of uranium from the Congo to Staten Island, New York. The first shipments were sent in 1939, prior to the outbreak of war. Fission had long been suspected, and indeed, Fermi in all probability both observed fission earlier in thirties and had actually suppressed his observation. In retrospect, his discussions with Ida Tacke-Noddack, who insisted that Fermi’s work did in fact indicate uranium fission can be seen to have delayed the official “discovery” of uranium fission by some years. Fermi was an anti-fascist working in fascist Italy at the time, and Tacke-Noddack was a female scientist who was a full member of the German Nazi Party. Years later, Fermi’s assistant

The story of war and nuclear technology is a very mirky one indeed. Nothing much has changed since 1945.

Attacks against reactors in the modern Era

That modern nuclear reactors are vulnerable to conventional ariel attack by even small interdiction/ground attack aircraft has been repeatedly in the 20th century. Repeatedly Israeli fighter aircraft have totally destroyed nuclear reactors with conventional small bombs. The Israeli reactor raids were as follows:

1. In 1976, Iraq purchased an “Osiris”-class nuclear reactor from France. While Iraq and France maintained that the reactor, named Osirak by the French, was intended for peaceful scientific research, the Israelis viewed the reactor with suspicion, and said that it was designed to make nuclear weapons. On 7 June 1981, a flight of Israeli Air Force F-16A fighter aircraft, with an escort of F-15As, bombed and heavily damaged the Osirak reactor. Israel claimed it acted in self-defense, and that the reactor had “less than a month to go” before “it might have become critical.” Ten Iraqi soldiers and one French civilian were killed. The attack took place about three weeks before the elections for the Knesset. (wikipedia.)

The Iraqi reactor containment building following its deconstruction by a few fighter jets using small conventional bombs. “Everybody had always been worried about the Israeli nuclear weapons program, or at least about the Israelis publicly declaring their program, or about them conducting a nuclear test. But now it appeared technology was spreading such that Iran and Iraq and maybe even Libya had begun to seek technology for their own nuclear weapons program…

So countries like the U.S. and others in possession of more advanced nuclear technologies began to talk about a special export control regime that would apply towards just the Middle East. No formal arrangement was ever reached, but I think it tended to sensitize a lot of nuclear supplier states to the region. Some questioned whether ANY nuclear cooperation in the Middle East was appropriate.(source: Association For Diplomatic Studies and Training. The Israeli Strike on the Iraqi Reactor at Osirak. ” Dean Rusk, Deputy Director, Non-Proliferation Policy Bureau, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1976-1997. Source: Ibid.

So much for the concept of a united “world nuclear industry”. Half of it want to secretly make nuke weapons. The other half of it publicly state that making nuclear weapons fuel with a reactor is impossible. It boils down to which does one prefer: the secret criminal or the deluded fool claiming expertise.

Israel confirms it carried out 2007 airstrike on Syrian nuclear
Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem
Wed 21 Mar 2018 21.35 AEDT

Photo made available by the Israeli Defense Forces showing an alleged reactor building of the al-Kibar facility in Deir al-Zour province, Syria. Photograph: IDF/EPA

Israel’s military has gone public for the first time to confirm a 2007 airstrike on a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor, announcing details of a night-time attack its intelligence minister said provides a clear warning to Iran.

In a secret operation that has been extensively speculated on for a decade, Israel said it sent four F-16 fighters hundreds of miles into Syria on 6 September 2007, to bomb the partially completed al-Kubar facility near Deir ez-Zor.

Previously-classified footage, images and intelligence documents on the plan showed how Israel had monitored the site for several years and feared it could become operational within months.

One report, dated 30 March 2007, said: “Syria has set up, within its territory, a nuclear reactor for the production of plutonium, through North Korea, which according to an (initial) worst-case assessment is liable to be activated in approximately another year.”

The military said that following the four-hour operation, the reactor “had been totally disabled”, and the damage done “was irreversible”.

Black and white aerial images showed a box-like construction close to the Euphrates river in the desert, while video showed the structure exploding in a cloud of smoke following a countdown by a male voice.

The move to go public with the strike, which has already been widely reported and cited to US officials, comes amid repeated warnings by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for the United States and others to take more robust action on Syria’s ally, Iran.

Netanyahu shares Donald Trump’s view that world powers need to scrap or rewrite the 2015 accord with Tehran that curbs its nuclear ambitions, as he believes it to be ineffective.

Israel’s intelligence minister, Yisrael Katz, made a direct warning to Iran in a tweet on Wednesday morning, saying the raid provided a clear message that Israel would not allow “nuclear weapons to countries like Iran who threaten its existence.” end quote.

I put it like this: Since World War 2 the West has maintained that reactors are perfectly safe in all aspects. The West maintains that nuclear reactors today cannot possibly produce nuclear weapons fuel either on their own or in concert with other methods.

Yet the major Western powers, including Israel, demonstrate, repeatedly and by military and diplomatic means, their utter and total disbelief in these nuclear industry edicts of reassurance.

Who, reader, do you believe? Given the hours of sunlight per annum enjoyed in South Australia, which is more rational – building not just one but several solar thermal generators with integral solar desalination or building one nuclear reactor? Along with the proposed global high level nuclear waste dump?

How big a military target will this state be in 40 years time? Does anyone know? What means of the place would one bombed operating reactor with spent fuel pools make? What means of the joint would one global high level nuclear waste dump make when hit with by a gaggle of even today’s mark of bunker buster missiles?
a. None at all. b. A little bit. Radiation is good for you. c. The state would not be habitable for a fair while and it would cost the health and lives of many people.