Sunday, February 04, 2007

Media confusion over enriched unranium vs. weapons-grade uranium

I read a rather misleading headline for an article in The Independent by Anne Penketh entitled "Iran steps up production of weapons-grade uranium". In fact, if you read the article, there is not even a single reference to weapons-grade uranium production. Yes, Iran is ramping up enrichment of uranium, but there is a huge gap between enriching uranium (to the level needed to fuel a nuclear power plant) and enriching it to the level needed for producing nuclear weapons.

Weapons-grade uranium is not an amount of uranium, but a very high ratio (90%) of the U-235 isotope relative to the more common U-238 isotope. Achieving that high ratio takes a significantly greater level of sophistication than building a plant capable of enriching uranium sufficient for use in a nuclear power plant.

The open question is whether the journalist (or her editor) made an honest mistake, or was there an actual intent to deceive the public.

We'll have to see if they post a correction.

-- Jack Krupansky


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