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Plutonium

I couldn’t find a solid reason to justify the whole Afghan project for years, but I think most of us agree that sharing a planet with a cult like the Taliban is something that we cannot live with ultimately. I didn’t think too much of it back in the scrapping days, but things have advanced and now it's difficult to keep the giant mushroom cloud out of focus when cults like theirs are part of our future with energy.

It goes the same for other cults who have apocalyptic ideas too, but Al Qaeda had the dedication, creativity, and manpower with the intellect required to train and pilot jumbo jets with suicidal intentions. They may also recruit educated engineers to build sophisticated bombs, and their practice of martyrdom has not gone away; it’s just reinventing itself with emerging technologies and resources, which could one day include plutonium.

Places like Afghanistan need energy to take the manual labour out of simply existing and to put people in a position where they have some kind of continuous electricity. Cities, towns, and villages need power in order to advance because no power encourages societal degradation. Unless we are going to build enormous super solar farms all over the place, an immediate alternative for renewable energy is uranium: the fuel needed for fission energy.

When the physicist and Italian immigrant Enrico Fermi fired up the world’s first fission reactor in Chicago, the world entered a new geological period. “The Italian navigator has just landed in the new world,” was the coded message sent from Fermi’s “Met Lab” to the White House to inform the government that they had split the atom. Before Fermi and his team reached critical mass — the point when the chain reaction in the uranium fuel has commenced and is under control — the physicists, the Nazis, and the American war machine knew that if this worked it would lead to the atom bomb. The answer to our power issues was answered immediately by the humanitarian side of the discovery. Then Nagasaki and Hiroshima answered uranium's military questions. 

The bomb and the energy come as a package deal. The uranium, after it has reached the end of its fission life in a reactor as fuel, degrades into plutonium. This is the apocalyptic problem we reach when we need to give fission power to a country which we cannot trust with it. As the years go on, it’s clear that Afghanistan and the surrounding countries will need fission energy to advance. But you cannot come into the nuclear game if you have organisations like fucking Boko Haram, Al qaeda, and the Taliban roaming around your countryside, because having a nuclear reactor around those kinds of lunatics is insane.

We couldn’t get the Taliban out of Afghanistan, and now they are going to be a political party. Maybe one day they’ll want fission power. Or maybe Pakistan will violate the world's trust even further and build a fission plant next door to a country half controlled by the Taliban. Abdul Quadeer Khan, a Pakistani nuclear physicist, stole blueprints from Norway on how to build a uranium enrichment centrifuge. He made Pakistan a nuclear power, then he sold these blueprints to the likes of Iran and North Korea, and there was even some spurious intelligence that Saddam was paying for it. Other countries will acquire the blueprints, legally or not, and regardless of their stability. Because the people in these countries need the power. 

We're kind of waking up from our fear of “nuclear energy” and the visions of mushroom clouds, radiation, foetuses of triplets all joined at the arsehole, catastrophic reactor management, and just general nuclear disaster. There are four hundred and forty fission reactors currently powering cities on earth. Fifty more are under construction. Some of these reactors will be built in unsavoury countries with permission or not because of the current balkanisation of the super powers. And they will have to enrich uranium, or buy it in, and it will be a  mystery how they dispose, recycle, and destroy the plutonium. As fission power increases around the world, so does nuclear terrorism. 

The two years before the success of the Manhattan Project at the Trinity test, the U.S. dropped two hundred and seventy-thousand tons of TNT on Japan in bombing runs. Then they used 64kg of highly enriched uranium in the bomb for Hiroshima and recreated the conditions inside the fucking sun. Then three days later, they used 6.2kg of plutonium on Nagasaki. A 6.2kg piece of plutonium the size of a six pack beer is the equivalent to fifty-seven thousand tons of TNT. 

We are gonna have to run with fission energy, and along the way some crazy fucking cult will convince their “smart” sympathisers to help build a nuclear bomb. Building the actual bomb is easy, it’s getting the plutonium or highly enriched uranium that is near impossible. But a group won’t have to mine for it one day, they’ll just infiltrate a station with poor security or buy it from the increasing amount of unstable nuclear states. 

And now we are pulling out of Afghanistan and god knows what that’s gonna lead too. Are we are all just gonna live happily ever after that monstrosity? Because there are some fellas over there who would love some of that plutonium – we definitely learnt that much.

 

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