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Non-proliferation & The Antinuclear Mind

Jeremy Whitlock

Monday, May 22, 2023

Chris Keefer  0:00  

Welcome back to the Capitol. Today I am joined by the one and only Jeremy Whitlock. I think your most important accomplishment, Jeremy is that you've appeared on the decouple podcast before. I mean, I'm a little biased, but you also have an incredible resume. People should check out your former episode. It's all about can do and can do is in the news, if you haven't noticed, Reuters exclusive on the case for candy report today. A lot of hum in Ontario about this new Canadians Renewable Energy Report. There'll be a link in the show notes but enough of my self promotion.


In addition to being a former DEA couple of guests, Jeremy works at the IAEA. And I'm gonna let you finish off this. This introduction. I've started trying to try and keep it to like a five floor elevator ride. Go ahead.


Jeremy Whitlock  0:51  

Thanks, Chris. And I'm very happy to make this return to engagement on on decouple. And actually, just as an aside, I was talking to someone this morning having coffee and out of the blue they mentioned that they were a big fan of of decouple and, and yourself and they follow every episode. But they didn't mention that they had seen me. So I guess they missed that one. But I said, you know, funnily enough, this afternoon, I'll be doing another one. Anyway, so. So I am a Senior Technical Advisor, as they call me at the International Atomic Energy Agency. The area of specialty here is is safeguards. So I work with a team of people that helped make the world safe from potential proliferators who want to misuse nuclear technology. And this goes back to my my career at Chalk River labs in Canada, I did 22 years at Chalk River, which is two hours west of Ottawa. I also grew up in the area. So I'm, I'm a second generation nuclear person, my dad worked there as well. And I've been here since 2017. Again, again, working in in safeguards. So safeguards essentially is it's the what what happens when you sign the Non Proliferation Treaty, which is most countries, if you are a country that doesn't have nuclear weapons, according you know, legally, according to the Non Proliferation Treaty, which are the P five nations, if you're the other nations, you mean, that means you accept full scope, comprehensive nuclear safeguards on your entire state, your entire country, that means that all nuclear material is under under verification requirements.


Chris Keefer  2:31  

You know, this, this episode came about, you know, because you came back into my life, Jeremy, it was wonderful. Because I spent, I probably spent too much time, but at least a couple of weeks preparing for my debate with Dr. Gordon Edwards in Ottawa, that's about three shows back in the archives, the great Canadian Nuclear debates. And, you know, you have a, you know, in addition to the IEA and Chuck river, you also have an incredible website, I think, called Canadian Nuclear FAQ. We'll link that in the show notes as well. But you have a long history of interacting with the Canadian anti nuclear movement, and some of its key members, or ideologues or whatever we're going to call them. And so you're incredibly useful for prepping for that debate. So, two things I wanted to cover in today's episode, you know, it almost starting to feel a bit irrelevant, as the anti nuclear movement is starting to feel, you know, to explore the anti nuclear mind or mindset. So I don't know how much time was spent on that. But I did want to fact check some of the things Gordon Edwards said, and you know, in in our preparation for the debate, the issue that I found the hardest to get my head around and deal with was that of proliferation. And so I thought who better to deep dive this further with? Then my good friend we've never met before. Jeremy Whitlock. It's funny how these friendships grow, you know, from doing these hour long podcasts, but it's actually like, I think it's very rare to sit down and have a one on one with someone for an hour, like outside of you know, work meeting or something like that. So anyway, it's something I've really valued from this, this whole podcast experience. And you know, another great thing about the podcast experiences I think I'm over 200 episodes in and I've spoken with some really interesting people. Again, we haven't really covered the bomb which we really need to or proliferation, but I have spoken with the proliferator and that was Dr. Anil Kakade car who run the Randy bark the baba atomic. I'm gonna get that wrong Atomic Research Center and was involved in the mechanical engineer behind the the Smiling Buddha explosion, the peaceful nuclear explosions that India set off I think in 74 and then the three explosions in the 90 so like touching history like that has been incredible part of the podcast but it was interesting talking to a guy who's been involved in proliferation? And that whole politics of it, you know that the the already nuclear nations the early comers or like, whatever. So maybe we'll get into that as well. But this is too long of a of a of a little diatribe. Maybe we can start off with the light and fluffy and, and talk a little bit about your impressions and reactions to the Gordon Edwards, debate and explore a little bit the the anti nuclear mind, because I think there's still a lot of communication work that needs to be done by advocates. And it's really important to understand where those who disagree with us are coming from. And I think an empathetic approach is how you win arguments you need to understand where people are coming from. So without further ado, Jeremy, what were your thoughts about the debate?


Jeremy Whitlock  5:42  

Well, yeah, and and I'm empathetic to people who are scared of nuclear power because because who wouldn't be if you didn't know anything about it? I'm less empathetic to people who who I know for a fact I understand the science very well. And and yet insist on trying to scare people about it. And so that brings us to the anti nuclear people. Now, I've been around long enough in this field talking to anti nuclear folks, mainly in in in Canada to have I don't want to say outlived but I, I am I am active longer than all of them. And I think I think that Gordon Edwards is the only one I can be mistaken. But of all the people, there was norm Reuben of energy probe. Several others and there was Gordon Edwards, and he's the only one I think it's still around of that of that generation. So and to


Chris Keefer  6:32  

give, to give to give the listeners a sense of this guy's longevity. You know, it came to my attention that Dr. Gordon Edwards debated Dr. Edward Teller the father of the hydrogen bomb in Toronto, moderated by a Canadian cultural legend, Pierre Burton. I mean, it was 49 years ago, essentially, almost to the day that I debated him after but, you know, like, my hat's really goes off to Gordon Edwards for his stamina. I think I've got some solid critiques. But anyway, I wanted to carry on, I just wanted to give people a sense of that, you know, grand sweep of history. It's like what one human lifetime can experience. But anyway, sorry, carry on.


Jeremy Whitlock  7:11  

And you were generous to point that out in the debate right at the outset to acknowledging the man stamina. Yeah, so he's definitely been around longer than I've been involved. And he started off and anti bomb. And as many of the anti bomb people evolved, he did to to anti nuclear power. And he sees the whole thing as one big thing to be against. He's, he doesn't like nuclear technology. Despite what he says he might say things to falsify that but but the essential truth about him is he doesn't like nuclear technology. And so he'll tolerate a little bit if we have to put up with it. But really, he would like if he had a choice, it would go out the door. Sorry. And so everything that he says and does is motivated by that just regardless of the agenda of the meeting that he's attending, or the topic of the talk, it's all about this thing has to go. And he and he's been telling that same story. For for decades. Various anti nuclear spokesmen have have different motivations and agendas, some are more sincere than others. And some are kind of like, they allow themselves to walk that hairy edge of truth. And I'm afraid to say the Gordon Edwards is one of these people. He's, he's a very smart individual, he's intelligent, he's he's read all the material that's out there in the public domain, and he's able to regurgitate it at at will. So he knows what's true. He knows where that boundary is. And he knows how far he can go beyond the boundary, to just enough to put the fear of the atom and people but not to give them that extra little bit that they need to address the fear. So, so he'll say that that radiation is like little mini explosions going on. And the radiation in your body is our little mini explosions, and he'll use the word explosions. And when when challenged on that, you know, why do you say, would you have to say explosions, because you know, and I know that you are invoking the the bomb and that imagery, and you'll say, well, they are explosions, you know, it's energy being released. And it's like, so that's an example of where he he knows that he's not lying, but he's just choosing to use very, very particular rhetoric to get a point across and he does this with every one of the topics. So it has his three favorite topics that are radiation, and an all of its associated fear factors. So that includes accidents, and then waste. Basically, there's no solution for for spent fuel and he'll push this over and over again, which is not true. And then his main topic is is proliferation and it really comes around which is his original entry into the and into the field, where he's just, he is sincerely afraid that the world would come to a cataclysmic end because of because of nuclear technology. So I could be generous and ascribe that to that, that sincere feeling of this too.


Chris Keefer  10:12  

And I mean, that's especially for his generation. That is not an irrational fear. I mean, even let's be quite honest, for our generation. It's not a totally irrational fear. It always amazes me. I mean, I guess there have been some close calls the Cuban Missile Crisis, I think there was a submariner captain in a nuclear submarine who, you know, maybe could have should have had the order to push the button during the blockade of Cuba and did not, there was some close calls from what I understand. And once you start slinging nuclear weapons, from what I understand, the game theory basically plays out to you, you don't end up with a little tactical exchange, you end up with the whole whole bit, which is, which is terrifying. And it's still should be, you know, something that's, that's terrifying to us, or, you know, enough to, I don't like terror, or like, you know, the Greta Thunberg thing of you know, panicking, but like sober, sober thought and consideration. And I guess that's, you know, part of why you work at the institution you work at, like what struck me with Gordon, you know, in terms of trying to really, again, empathize and understand the psychology is that the root of it is in the bomb. That's rational, particular generation. But the thesis he has is essentially, we can get rid of the bomb and pretend it never existed or just, you know, hit control, alt delete, or whatever it is on your keyboard, if we can just get rid of every bit of nuclear technology. And, you know, that's why I talked a fair amount about isotopes. I mean, isotopes are made in power reactors, but I mean, he's even against isotopes made in medical research reactors. And you know, you were part of the team that helped coach me and get my knowledge base up on on medical isotopes. But that's what I think really struck me is that that's the fundamental thing and the flawed thinking, and I think you were also very helpful in terms of, you know, you have to acknowledge that every reactor Yes, it does make plutonium. Is that weapons grade plutonium or sufficient isotopic purity? No, or, you know, that could a research reactor also potentially be used in a diversion program? Yes. Like, there's always a risk. But that was the framing I used of, you know, the medical framing of let's discuss this diagnostic approach or treatment, decision risks, benefits and alternatives. And, you know, just understanding that, that this profoundly human desire to stuff a genie back in the bottle of something you think is an apocalyptic threat, it makes sense, but it's not a sound argument. And the harms are very real, you know, be at air pollution in Germany now, or, you know, failure on climate goals, or, you know, I can, I think, more immediate, just all of the medical benefits of sterilization and, and cancer treatments, etc. So, that was kind of my take away, and I really have to credit you for helping me, I think, develop that. So, thank you.


Jeremy Whitlock  12:59  

You're very welcome. And you did a very good job of representing that view, in the time you had food. Yeah. So he does have this advantage that if if you assume that you don't need nuclear reactors, then you can say, let's just get like the safest world is the one without any kind of nuclear technology. And this really resonates with his audiences. And he mostly speaks in echo chambers, which is another thing about about him and most anti nuclear spokesman as well, he's always invited to a lot of echo chambers, by which I mean, he's saying his view that he knows 90% of the audience is going to, it's going to go back to him. And so he feels that resonance, and he really starts to ease that he doesn't do so well in a non echo chamber environment. So he rightly I guess, sticks to the echo chambers. But he can say things like, we don't need nuclear power. And look at Germany, they're not using nuclear power, because there's this, there's this belief that they they got rid of it, and they're doing just fine. And visually, you see wind turbines, and you think, well, they're, they're what's powering Germany now, which is not true. But but he knows he can say that, and nobody's going to, like, nobody's likely to challenge him. So so he doesn't have the disadvantage that people like I have in, in going into that discussion is, is that I know that nuclear power is necessary or something very much like it, if not nuclear power, then some other large, reliable, abundant nuclear or clean energy source. And it's not the things that are that are being offered by by his crowd. And so if you assume that you do need to have nuclear power, then you've got to do something about this yin and yang of May it makes you could make plutonium for for weapons. And so you need to deal with that. And that's very, very complicated. And it's why you have this institution here with 1000s of people have been around since 1957. and implementing the Non Proliferation Treaty since the early 70s. And going through 183 countries on the planet doing inspections daily, even during a global pandemic, when nobody was flying anywhere. There was one organization that did not stop go owing to every country on the planet, even if they had to drive across borders, and do three weeks of quarantine, to do three days of inspection. So we have to think about that. And, and yes, we are a pro nuclear organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency grew out of the Atoms for Peace man invented, you know, the US proposal that that this is is too beneficial to mankind to just keep within the countries where it was invented, we need to be able to irradiate crops to to kill, get rid of pestilence, to extend the shelf life of food to fight cancer, to provide abundant electricity so so the other two thirds of the population of the planet that doesn't have access to reliable electricity can can maybe have a light turned on in the evening and maybe read a book and maybe learn something about the rest of the world. And it's not just subsistence living, and all of this was being imagined in the 50s. And so it was, it was utopian. But but it wasn't wrong. It was they had to do something about the way it couldn't continue the way that Rob was looking at at that time. And so the IAEA is the institution that came into into effect in the late 1950s, to kind of to help spread the the value of nuclear technology. And then when the Non Proliferation Treaty came along, at the end of the 60s, it was the logical organization to house the Department of safeguards, which is, along with all of that Yang, you have the yang of the weapons and you want to not have the two, the two connected. And it was the five weapons states that the P five. So US, France, UK, China and Russia, as defined by that treaty, the countries that have exploded to that point in time new nuclear weapons in the late 1960s. So if that dotted line was was the mid 1970s, you'd have you'd have India, for example, in there. And India wouldn't be a country that exploded a web at a device outside of common global support. It would be Oh, yes, it's there are six. There's no ipv6 sort of thing. But so there's a dotted line at the beginning of the 1970s. And so the IAEA has


Chris Keefer  17:13  

no, there's no coincidence that the members of the Security Council, the permanent members are all the nuclear weapons states, right? Yes. Yeah.


Jeremy Whitlock  17:19  

It's no coincidence whatsoever. And as part of the NPT, the the Non Proliferation Treaty, by the way, is an IT which is also signed by the weapons states is an agreement by by them to work towards disarmament. There's just, it's they haven't progressed very far on that part of the NPT. But basically, it's an agreement that if nuclear technology has to be shared globally, it has to be done securely, as well. And so you are agreeing to have, as I mentioned, before, safeguards on all of your nuclear activities if you're not one of these five countries. So a country like Canada, for instance, has inspectors coming on, on a daily, weekly basis to the nuclear facilities, not just the reactors, but the process, the fuel fabrication facilities, the fuel storage facilities, the Nuclear Laboratories, McMaster University with its reactor, they all get visited. Even small amounts of nuclear technology, even the hospitals that have cobalt 60, or they have depleted uranium shielding in, in cancer therapy machines. So it all gets visited. And it's just to keep tabs on on who's who has nuclear material, and what are they doing with it. And it's interesting, because this, this secure framework is is actually enabled by civilian nuclear technology. So because you have that speaks to Gordon Edwards thesis that you can just get rid of nuclear technology, you can make everything illegal nuclear weapons, and nuclear technology, just doing something with uranium that splits it is illegal and having plutonium is, is illegal. And I have pointed out to him in the past that well, first of all, making something illegal, of course, doesn't make it go away. So let's assume that prohibition was pretty successful. Let's recognize, yes, the prohibition of nuclear weapons, it will be around it's just now it's underground. And, and so then, you know, they would he would propose well, then you of course, need a IAEA like organization that is, is checking it and so I say, well, guess what we we have the IAEA and because we have a civilian nuclear industry globally, that is that puts the boots on the ground that is and uniquely it's we are uniquely able to go into these countries legally and and with with very little notice and knock on the front door and like show me to your uranium and it better be there. And not just that but we can go to other places in many countries that were well maybe we suspect there's something going on. And we can take a sample they can take a sample of the dust on it on a on a desk of a profile surgeon's office, where there should not be plutonium isotopes, you know, but maybe we have a reason to think that there's some there's some r&d going on there in plutonium separation or something. And he send the samples back to to, to Austria. That's gonna say Vienna, but it's actually about a half an hour south of Vienna with the IAEA laboratory, and they test it and they look for plutonium. And this happens all the time daily, all year round.


Chris Keefer  20:27  

So I mean, it kind of sounds like a almost like a spy agency in some ways. But that's, that's wild. And I'm sure I'm sure there's all kinds of stories. And, you know, I'm curious about, you know, the relevance to the Iraq War. And, you know, I think Saddam was refusing IAEA inspections, like it's, it's not all roses, this is this problem, challenges, an agency that's supposed to be able to just walk in and, you know, be kind of invasive, and there's an


Jeremy Whitlock  20:53  

easier places on the world in the world to verify. And I guess,


Chris Keefer  20:57  

tell me, tell me about a place that's that's been challenging, or, I mean, obviously, there's been states that have gotten around this, I think about North Korea. I'm sure there's a few other examples. Yeah, you know, nothing, nothing is perfect. And I'm sure Gordon Edwards IEA, police would be you know, it's kind of like a global supercar or something that, you know, imagines that it would be perfect. But, you know, and that was, again, I think, one of the key pieces of advice for me, because, you know, you can go into a debate like this ultra partisan, and, you know, you're in such a defensive mindset that you don't want to concede anything, and I think the wisdom that you really imparted on me is like, you have to concede it, yes, every nuclear reactor in the world makes plutonium. Yes. If we go the reprocessing route, to reuse nuclear waste, that, you know, as a step towards making proliferation easier, we have to up the safeguards to match that, you know, and for me, again, it was very useful framing because I could say, well, you know, again, this is risk, you know, this is a medical conversation essentially risks, benefits and alternatives. And then informed consent as a society, do we decide that we want to do, you know, Pyro reprocessing to use that spent nuclear fuel or to develop, you know, fast reactor technology? And right now, maybe there's not a, you know, uranium is cheap, maybe we don't need to do that. Maybe the urgency will be there later, who knows? I don't have a strong opinion on it. But I think it was just very useful. It really made me more relaxed in the debate to just be like, yeah, acknowledge that, but then, again, have have a rational response to, to him?


Jeremy Whitlock  22:22  

Well, I think when it comes down to his critical analysis, it's critical analysis, he, there's pros and cons. There's advantages and disadvantages, and we do it all the time. You know, like, so we have streets, and we have cars going down those streets, and it's very close to the sidewalk. And we don't have big concrete walls between the sidewalk and the street. So there's a certain risk that you're going to wander out into the street, and it does happen. And everybody knows that if you walk out in the street, and a truck hits you, you you will die you'll it's instant. And and it's a risk that we take and we judge that against the what if we didn't have the cars coming through the city? Well, we don't want that. And so I think we know enough to keep ourselves on the sidewalk. And that's a risk that we can deal with. And if there is an issue, in a certain situation, certain location, well, we do put little barriers up and we have lights and so on. So we address it. And so we're everybody is very well aware of how we deal how we make we do critically critically analyze the risks around us. But for some reason, nuclear doesn't fall into that people did not give that flexibility to to nuclear. It's just one of those things where you say nuclear say the word nuclear and people. Most people, I have this theory that there is no neutral, feeling neutral opinion on nuclear tech. Now people might say they don't care about it apathetic, I haven't thought about it much, not too worried about it. But then as soon as a tidal wave washes over a reactor in East Japan, and there's an there's an issue, and it's on CNN, and they're showing oil refineries burning and the ticker on the bottom says it's reactor on fire people go yes, I knew that. I knew that was a problem with that said, I always suspected that you know, and then they're fed this all the time through through various means all the time from from like The Simpsons and, and jokes on the side. And, you know, when I say I work at Chuck river laboratories, so yeah, Have you have you? Have you blown anything up lately was always the next thing I heard or do you glow in the dark and hahaha, but so it didn't worry me too much. People were saying that, but it just shows that the immediate reaction never was Oh, so you're helping to provide 80% of the world's medical isotopes, because, of course, they had no idea which was to another issue was there which is our poor history of communications. But so nuclear does isn't accorded that that flexibility. And people like Gordon Edwards know this. They know that they can just throw out let's get rid of nuclear power. And you'd have 90% of the room. Just nodding saying, Yeah, I didn't think it did anything for us. It means there's windmills. Why do we why do we need that? They're not going to say, Wait a minute. Let's see what nuclear does for us. As and put it in this column, and let's see what it's what its challenges are and what we do about it. So we never talk about safeguards in those kinds of environments. So you have to twist Gordon's arm, Gordon Edwards arm to talk about safeguards, he'll just he'll just slough off safeguards and say they well that's just, you know, that doesn't work that's that's people checking on other people. And of course human nature is to agree with that and say, Yeah, people checking in other people that doesn't work, you know, they, we have laws against doing drugs and laws against drinking in public and I sure know how to get around that one, you know, so. But now you put now if that's a if you transfer that to the idea of nuclear technology, and all of a sudden it's scary, because now it's not just any bomb, but it's a bomb that I can blow up a whole city with. And, and people like Gordon Edwards, nurture this, this inherent feeling that people have and I think I think it is inherent, so when when people like you and I walk into a room, you are already already behind the eight ball, even if even if it's a room portly, supposedly, of neutral people, you've got to move them off that square of sort of inherent negativity.


Chris Keefer  26:11  

I feel that all the time I did a basically a townhall with my local MP, who's a great guy reef, Ronnie, he has nothing nuclear, like there's a lot of Ontario electoral districts that have a lot of nuclear going on. And those politicians are aware of it and are champions for the sector. But you know, reef has we're you know Parkdale High Park, this is a NDP green kind of Bastion swings, NDP and liberal. You know, both of those two parties are not super friendly with nuclear. So he's taken a risk, basically, because he's been convinced partially by listening to, you know, his constituents, and himself listening to the couple every once in a while to really champion nuclear. So anyway, he had, he had me to a town hall, and he was like, Do you want to have a debate? And I was like, not really. I mean, I'm not afraid of a debate, but I just think it's gonna not be a quality conversation. And he's like, Well, how about I play devil's advocate, and I'll just ask you all the questions. And, you know, it's a bit of an exhausting night, I've worked a shift that day and came to it. And, you know, it's just like, there's so there's such a positive story to be told here. And we've completely lost lost the narrative, if we're just responding like, yes, you know, clearly, we have to address this concern of, I don't know, there should be an acronym for it. But like, you know, waste weapons and accidents are something that WW a of nuclear, but like, there's a really positive story to be told here. In Teresa. Maybe? Yeah, that's good. You got it got a better way with an acronym, isn't it? And maybe that's the IAEA and you or something? But yeah, I mean, there's a positive story to be told here. Right. And we've mentioned that, you know, in phasing out coal in Ontario, the medical isotopes, you know, the just Trent, like the actual just transition for fossil fuel workers, you know, the the ways in which nuclear just uplifts human potential, like, this is the thing I keep coming back to with people is, you know, yes, you know, as a as banging up, you know, foreign made wind up mystery wind panels, solar panels on frames, is that a risky construction project? No, it's easy. These, these are on budget on time, sort of. It's a bits of infrastructure, but what's the value proposition, right, and, and so nuclear requires just this extraordinary amount of human potential. But in in requiring it, it buoys up, you know, the people involved, you know, who could get higher higher education, higher standards of skills, if they're skilled trades, people, you know, incredible project management skills, and, you know, nuclear can flounder when those ingredients aren't there. But, you know, that's part anyway, of the sort of more positive story that I think we don't get a chance to express enough because we're just constantly on the defensive, and I think those times are changing, because of, you know, novel communicators, like, you know, this kind of global nuclear advocacy community, but also just, you know, the winds are blowing in our favor. And that's, you know, why I'm saying like, it's almost irrelevant to talk about the anti nuclear mindset, because it's, I mean, it's unfortunate, it's very gray haired, like, it's, it's, there's some, there's some saying that's a bit harsh, but it's like, you know, for an idea to die, sometimes the people that hold that have to kind of go along with it. But again, I


Unknown Speaker  29:21  

wish I had more gray hair.


Chris Keefer  29:24  

I don't know, looking at you, I'm really not sure what your age is, you seem kind of timeless, nice, this effect. Anyway, that again, a bit bit of a long diatribe for me, but you know, I was struck by your yin yang language. And you know, within the ying yang, there's a little.of, white and the black and a little.of, black and the white. So let's, let's go back to proliferation and talk about, you know, some of the the challenges and not necessarily, I guess, kind of the exceptions to the rule in terms of states that have, you know, broken the NPT, the Non Proliferation Treaty. How did that happen? And was that sort of a breakdown? own, like, what would you give credit to four countries doing that? What were the costs that they had to pay? Just give me a sense of that. How do we keep people in line in terms of being this kind of global policeman on on?


Jeremy Whitlock  30:11  

Yeah, so So ultimately, the IAEA were just the ones who verify we don't we don't enforce. And so we, we we go, we inspect, and we have like an objective assessment of what what the countries are doing, we draw a conclusion. And we pass that to the board of directors for the IAEA. And ultimately, if it becomes if it's actually a case of a country is proliferating, it becomes a Security Council issue. So it's just elevated to that level. And then where it goes from there. It's out of our hands. And there's very different various different different examples. You look at North Korea, which is a case where it was detected that they were were doing things they shouldn't with their nuclear technology.


Chris Keefer  30:55  

How was it detected? And what what nuclear technology did they have? What was the route to getting weapons?


Jeremy Whitlock  31:00  

Yeah, so so they had reactors, and they were misusing the reactors. And they were basically trying to do the radiations. They put targets into the reactors,


Chris Keefer  31:10  

using these reactors, power, power reactors.


Jeremy Whitlock  31:12  

Yeah. And it went back and forth. And eventually they just the thing about the NPT, the Non Proliferation Treaty is, is there is a clause to get out of it, you have to give advance notice, and then you can just withdraw from it as any treaty would have sort of thing, you wouldn't sign it otherwise. And so they they did that. They just said, You know what, we're out. And they've been out ever since.


Chris Keefer  31:34  

But they were detected first, before they did that. Is that correct? Yeah. And do you met Do you know, the particular story there, how it was detected, or? Well, like,


Jeremy Whitlock  31:41  

I know, I can't get into the details of that. But basically, through through the measures applied by the by the, by the IEA,


Chris Keefer  31:48  

as I'm pulling up dust from a professor's desk, perhaps. And also, you've already revealed too much Jeremy,


Jeremy Whitlock  31:54  

at the same time you have you, we aren't the only people that are keeping eyes on certain countries. So they, at the same time you have an intelligence community is knows a lot about what's going on. And there's a there's a general convergence of knowledge of what's going on in the country and diplomatic pressure is applied. To the point where, where the we thought we were, we're fixing the issue. And by like, they were they were making, we're mitigating and we were changing their technology even. And then they transgressed again, and and that's when they just basically pulled the plug and left this leftist system. And now and ever since then, they've just been sort of running with a nuclear weapons program. And so the IAEA has nothing to do with what happened since then. Everything since then, is the rest of the world keeping eyes on it. And and it's, it's not to do with the with the IA except that the IA is ready to go back in at any point. If if, if they invite us back in like if they come back into the into the fold. Then you have countries like so the big one was was Iraq in the early 90s, where we were doing safeguards much more simply prior to that, where, where basically the country tells us what they're what they're doing, where the reactors are, and anything else involving nuclear technology. And we go in and inspect and verify Yes, what you have declared is correct. And what was missing from that, and it always included the idea that we should be making sure that nothing undeclared is going on elsewhere in the country, we just didn't do as much about it back then. because of various reasons, including not having the resources to do it. Well, to have more resources, you need to have the will of the of the people who are funding you, which is which is where the member states of the IAEA, and that happened in the early 90s, when when it was detected that there was misuse of the technology going on in in in Iraq and Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. And so there was a realization that he was doing this in, in, in facilities that were right next door to the ones that were being inspected. But we had no the IAEA had no legal right to go to those neighboring facilities. And so there was an immediate recognition by by the world that we needed to fix this that that we had the we had the legals, the Statute of the IAEA allows us to go in with a view to looking at the state as a whole. But the measures the tools that we had were very limited and pretty much focused on on the declared facility. So we needed to be able to go anywhere and in the state, first of all, anywhere on a site anywhere on a nuclear site, that alone, nevermind the country, but also to go anywhere in the country, so to have strengthening of safeguards, and that's what happened as a result of the the Iraq transgressions in the early 90s. And then, and then much of the Iraq situation was ended up being dealt with through military means. So that wasn't anything to do with the IAEA. But Have


Chris Keefer  35:01  

the WMD wasn't wasn't there?


Jeremy Whitlock  35:02  

Yeah. Eventually. I mean, the second time when when they were when the country was basically annihilated. And it was it came out like that? No, no, they had sort of gotten rid of the WMD at the first time round, and then the political motivations took over afterwards. So that's all history. And then you have Iran, which is which what had had ideas about developing nuclear weapons and kind of went down that path. And again, detected by by the way, the system. And then you had on top of the NPT, you had the the Iran nuclear treaty that was was negotiated by the P five plus other countries. And the IAEA was then used as the verifier of that treaty. But that's different from from the NPT. So we have always been implementing the NPT verification activities in Iran. And on top of that, there is much more restrictive activities under under the JCPOA, which is the which is their particular treaty. Trump scrapped that his Biden that's the one that the US walked away from. And so that's the one that's in trouble, because because they are the leader of the free world, why walk away from it? Which basically, it's not good for global treaties, when the USA does that.


Chris Keefer  36:25  

Okay, so I'm drawing, I'm drawing some, you know, very strong comparisons between the countries we're talking about, and maybe Libya was in there as well, for a while. But all of these countries are basically under threat by the US for regime change. Is that not a startling? I mean, yeah, the US is the leader of the free world and sort of the global superpower. And I'm not going to ask you, you know, you probably have some limitations on what you can say, but I mean, maybe it's, uh, maybe I'll just do the editorial here. But I mean, that that's, that's kind of extraordinary. And again, I'm not sure the exact timing of North Korea getting the bomb, but I think it may have been after Sudan was overthrown or dragged out of his, his bunker, you know, all bearded and looking absolutely miserable. I think it was before Gaddafi was stabbed to death and thrown into an irrigation canal not not to make any comment on, you know, the quality of human being of these individuals. But, you know, Iran similarly under under threat from the US and some pretty, pretty major ways I like when I think about a new Non Proliferation Treaty that you might like in terms of the the motivation for states to get weapons. And I think this comes back to that point of, you know, there's no stuffing the nuclear genie back in the bottle when it comes to this fantasy that that will lead to the elimination of weapons, what drives weapons proliferation are these geopolitical tensions? Because from what I understand, it's really, really expensive to develop to get the expertise and the to maintain the credible threat of deployment, whether that's your what is it your nuclear triad of Air Force, you know, ground missile weapons and submarines to be a credible, credible user of those weapons. It's an absolutely enormous economic undertaking with with big potential headaches, and maybe we'll get to India in a second. And you know, because I think it was interesting, they were kind of starved of nuclear fuel because they don't have their own uranium and some of their beloved pressurized heavy water reactors are actually offline for extended periods of time because of the NPT treaty. But but maybe I'm jumping ahead too far. If there's anything else you wanted to say about the Iran, Iraq, North Korea thing, one thing I'm particularly curious about, as you said, because this has been a sort of pro nuclear narrative of mine is that, you know, power reactors don't like oh, you know, don't necessarily are actually pretty rarely lead to the production of nuclear weapons, but you're seeing in North Korea, they did have power reactors, where these large reactors are just kind of cover power reactors to develop the weapons or what what was going on there?


Jeremy Whitlock  38:53  

Well, they had power reactors that were more recently misused for making weapons, make weapons, they


Chris Keefer  39:00  

were supplying electricity to Pyongyang. Yeah, yeah, they're like


Jeremy Whitlock  39:03  

dual use dual use systems. So one of the outputs


Chris Keefer  39:07  

for the new nerds out there were they like RBMK style reactors or what they were Chernobyl style or they were like


Jeremy Whitlock  39:12  

graphite reactors. And so So, one of the the outcomes of the initial interaction of the world was particularly in the US was to replace those reactors with light water reactors, which can still make plutonium but just the extraction of plutonium from those reactors is not as easy as from a reactor like they like they had and so that was the the first thing that was going on, and then that all sort of fell by the wayside. When when they continued to do show that they they had aspirations to have a weapon. So yes, any it's just a fact of nuclear fission, that when you split uranium in half, you released neutrons, those neutrons, you want a lot of them to go and split other uranium neutrons but and but you're right when uranium gets sorry, uranium atoms but when you You get hit by a neutron, you you and your uranium, you might split in half, or you might just become one neutron heavier, and there's a certain chance that you will do that and not split. And when you become one neutron heavier, you then go through a series of decays and you end up as plutonium. And it will tinium has a half life of 24,000 years. So that's where it stops for, for all intensive purposes. So in any reactor, you get to build up, you get uranium, mountains fishing, and you get a buildup of plutonium. And so that happens in candy reactors and Light Water Reactors, RBMK reactors and in military production reactors. But then what happens also is that so the petroleum that you create is very pure at that point is Bill 2239 is a certain kind of plutonium, the kind that is useful in in weapons. But the fuel hasn't gone anywhere, and it's still in the reactor, and it's still exposed to more to these neutrons. And so now the plutonium is absorbing neutrons and becoming one neutron heavier, or two neutrons heavier or three neutrons heavier. And those heavier types of plutonium are not good for weapons. And so that's why you have reactor grade plutonium, which will tell anyone that's been in fuel that's been in the reactor for a year or more, and you have weapons grade plutonium, which has been quickly removed from the reactor before these heavier forms that will Tony build in. And that's the main difference in operation of a military reactor versus a power reactor.


Chris Keefer  41:21  

And the and the RBMK styles allow you to get that, you know, to cook the plutonium to the yes, the 230, it


Jeremy Whitlock  41:27  

was developed more as a dual use. So just just


Chris Keefer  41:31  

briefly without getting too nerdy here, but we do have a lot of nerds in the audience. So why is the isotopic purity of the plutonium important? What happens with that plutonium 240-240-1242? I heard about a fizzle, it can do a fizzle?


Jeremy Whitlock  41:43  

Yeah, well, the main thing is that they they they emit neutrons, they themselves emit neutrons, so it's higher forms of plutonium. And so when you have a weapon, what what makes a weapon versus just a bunch of heat, or you know, is that we have a bomb, what makes a bomb is, is that you have a lot of energy released in a very short amount of time. So it's that window of the energy release. So for a nuclear weapon, you want your if it's, let's say, two to half pieces of uranium to to evoke the simplest type of nuclear weapon coming together, you want it to figure out what the critical mass of uranium is, you get that amount, you split it in half, or maybe you don't, you don't have it together to begin with, because that would be dangerous. But you get to have half amounts of that. And then you bring it together really quickly as quickly as you can. So they do this, but basically keeping one stationary and firing another one in a gun barrel at the other one. And that's the fastest that we can move a chunk of material.


Chris Keefer  42:43  

Hiroshima design, yes, that's the heavy enriched uranium,


Jeremy Whitlock  42:47  

okay. It's the it's the the airwasher. It sounds like the gunbarrel design, not as popular today, because we mostly use the implosion design, which was the Nagasaki design. But basically, in a simple design, you're bringing these two halves together. When they're coming together, even though they're traveling at a projectile speeds, it seems fast to us. But for for subatomic levels, that's really slow. Because it because these things travel, it's at fraction and high fractions of the speed of light. And so as the pieces are coming together, if there's any radiation coming from those two pieces, which there would be it from uranium, it's going to be going across and being absorbed in the other piece of uranium. So if it's gamma rays, alpha particles, you know, they are not going to initiate fishing. But if you're if it's neutrons that are being transferred back and forth, as you're coming towards the other piece, you're going to have fishing starting to build up. And now you know, what you want to have is the two pieces come together with no fish, and then you inject you're starting you're starting neutron, and then the chain reaction happens and you have a very fast chain reaction in a short amount of time. And then the whole thing blows itself apart and it's it ends and chain reaction ends. You don't want the chain reaction to start long before the pieces come together. So for uranium, this is not an issue because there's not enough neutrons flying around from the uranium itself. By the way, that's one way to want to talk about neutralizing nuclear weapons. One way to do that is to be that a neutrons because you're basically you're basically like pre pre detonating it before the thing gets to just like the flak gun of nuclear weapons is a bunch of neutrons. So then it's all a game theory. If you're a nuclear weapons designer in the modern day, there are ways to design a nuclear weapon that's more more resistant to this and so on. And on and on, it goes back to this,


Chris Keefer  44:39  

but there actually is a mechanism to sort of shoot a neutron ray gun at at like, wow, how would that happen? When would you Is it a superhero that goes around? Neutron the neutron being


Jeremy Whitlock  44:51  

coming in? So there are ways to have neutron sources, strong neutron sources that you can have near you can fire up in the air and and A from the air. Yeah, I mean, you can't even have yourself. You can even have a counter a nuclear weapon, if you will, that emits more neutrons than anything else and Bains, the other weapon and neutrons. And so modern weapons are able to resist the neutron bomb. Is that the neutron I type of neutron bomb? Yes, yes, we maximize the neutrons being emitted. Yeah. Yeah. So for uranium, it's not an issue. And that's why when they, as soon as they discovered fission in uranium, they knew right away they can make a weapon. And nothing that happened after that. And this is during World War Two. Nothing that happened after that, after that in Manhattan Project told them that anything would prevent this from happening. So they were so short of it, they never had to test it at all. The the first the first nuclear weapon that that they that they used was the one dropped on Hiroshima. They just knew


Chris Keefer  45:54  

at Trinity that did Trinity test first right? Trinity was


Jeremy Whitlock  45:57  

a plutonium weapon. And so for that, now we get to the plutonium story. So what got you so in those early days, when they were they discovered efficient of your aid didn't know anything about plutonium at that time, they discovered that fishing that uranium fishes and they discovered that one of these things that builds up is is plutonium. And so they started looking into plutonium more and its properties and oh, look, it fishes as well. Isn't this great? You've got you can take a rock that you can that generates energy. And while it's generating energy, whether it's a bomb or or the reactor, it's also generating more fuel and that in itself as a unique thing about about nuclear so but in the context of the breeder reactor, right, yeah, well, that's that maximizes that aspect to make more fuel. But in the context of World War Two, they were just saying, Oh, look at this other fissile material that it creates, which is good, because we don't have a lot of uranium that we can use, which is enriched because they had to enrich the uranium in the part which is less than 1% than uranium 235. And they're like rapidly trying, which is like the largest industry on the planet at the time to try and do it largest factory. And they're trying to do that, before the war ends. But they said, Oh, this is great, somebody's handed us this other material that is created. And look, we can create it, if we can just get this reactor to work a large enough reactor to work, we're going to make plutonium with the uranium that we have, and you can extract the plutonium and make a nuclear weapon out of that. But then they discovered that it the fuel, the plutonium, the extract from the fuel has these heavier forms of plutonium, and enough of them are emitting neutrons. Even if you have relatively pure plutonium, you're going to have a few of these enough of these heavier ones that this is going to be an issue. And so this gets to this physical, you were talking about where the two pieces, let's say they're coming together in that in that gun barrel, they will be talking to each other and the fission reaction would start, so you'd get a large increase of energy, you'd have a large it would even be an explosion, it wouldn't be a militarily useful city flattening type of explosion, but you would have a large, and I don't want to, I don't want to sound like I'm supporting any of this actually, which is part of the problem of this, this topic, by the way that you very quickly, people start thinking that you're, you're supporting nuclear weapons. But you can have a fizzle bomb, it is a bomb, and it would explode, you'd have a truck bomb with this kind of plutonium, and it would be much larger than the terrorist diesel, diesel fuel fertilizer bombs that we have. And you can bring down buildings with it. And Gordon Edwards will talk about that. And he this is when he says that any kind of Plutonium can be used as a weapon. That's what he's that's what he means. He doesn't mean that that any military would use this, but somebody could get a hold of it, and have it have a pretty good bump. And so there's a whole story there about why you probably wouldn't do that. It's far more complex house, but getting a bunch of fertilizer.


Chris Keefer  48:52  

Yeah. So we've talked about nation states that have escaped the NPT and have made weapons and we have, I think, a decent understanding of how they did that dual use reactors, etc. And just saying, screw off NPT go away. IEA we're doing this big diplomatic price. And I think we'll get into that when talking about India in a moment. But the other threat that Edwards brings up here and again, there's a lot of stuff that's theoretically possible, but highly improbable. How to terrorists get plutonium, how did they get it? Like, what what would be some again, I know, you probably need to be quite theoretical in this answer. I'm not trying to give anyone ideas but like, it is what Gordon Edwards is evoking is that they would extract it from nuclear waste. What's imagined like stockpiles of plutonium are pretty carefully.


Jeremy Whitlock  49:35  

It's extremely difficult to extract Bitonio Yes, yeah. So so the most capable countries on the planet have a hard time extracting plutonium from from spent fuel so almost nobody does it. There's an advantage to doing it if you don't have uranium, if you don't have large amounts of uranium as Canada does, and so there you might want to recycle your fuel an extract. And simply looking at it you would say, Well, why not? Because of course we should recycle it. What Why would you take this resource? Well, the reason that that's what


Chris Keefer  50:09  

Marx that's what MOX fuel is right? Like when when France they're taking like mostly plutonium out, I guess a bit of YouTube 35 This left and mixing that into, okay,


Jeremy Whitlock  50:20  

you're basically getting rid of the of the fission products to garbage that half pieces of uranium, which are useless to you, not only useless, they're a detriment. They're absorbing neutrons.


Chris Keefer  50:30  

And that's not easy. That's, I mean, the Hague is like an absolutely massive facility. Right. And just I'm thinking about the mechanics of handling, you know, nuclear waste. I mean, unshielded, again, you're, you're getting acute radiant regions and dying, and like five, six seconds of being, you know, meter away. I mean, what does that look like hot cells,


Jeremy Whitlock  50:50  

it's baths, it's robotic machinery and remotely controlled machinery, and sick shielding, and meter thick glass and all of that stuff that you see in the Simpsons, except for the part where he's, you know, taking, taking the green goo and putting in his back pocket, that doesn't happen. But everything else, you know, that the the, the control of it is, is there for health and safety reasons, and also security reasons. And it's very difficult. And so, from a from a simple point of view, we should be doing this with all of our reactors extracting this this useful material, but, but the fact is, most countries don't. And the reason they don't is because they don't have to, because uranium is literally dirt cheap today. And if it wasn't as it as it wasn't, in the old days, when nuclear started, and the people developing the technology said, Oh, my God, we, if things take off the way or if we if we extrapolate, we're gonna need to, you know, MOX fuel, we're gonna need to extract the plutonium and mix it with the uranium and put that in the reactors, we need to take this thing called thorium, which is even more abundant than uranium on the in the Earth's crust. And if you expose thorium to neutrons, it turns into Uranium. So that's something else that that was discovered. And, and we can do that as well. So the origins of the of the Canadian Nuclear Program, actually, we're heavily looking built around the thorium fuel cycle, before we realize we have the mother lode of, of uranium in the earth. And so it's just natural that when you do discover you have this this other there is a lot of uranium, then the the the incentive to invest the billions needed to develop this, these other fuel cycles kind of kind of Peters away, and to the point where it's been at the r&d level in in national labs, ever since. Now, making a comeback with with SMRs at a much smaller scale. So you're seeing all these ideas that were popular in the 50s and 60s, come back now, often, because it's people who are working on it back then are retired. on their hands.


Chris Keefer  52:54  

Yeah, my cynical read of it coming back. And let's be clear, these are not reactors that are getting built, they're they're blueprints is that this is part of a public relations battle around nuclear waste being this intolerable thing. So we're gonna win a public relations fair and attracts and venture capital by solving the nuclear waste problem and, and, you know, doing a bunch of reprocessing, it's not an economic imperative. Again, as mentioned, uranium is dirt cheap. Like, it's cool. It's a really great science experiment, and it will have relevance in our nuclear powered future, no doubt, you know, as uranium ores deplete, and you know, at some point, if we build enough nuclear reactors, we are going to start really working our way through the easily exploitable Uranium reserves. So I, you know, I fully support developing the technology, but I just I do find like, the, you know, there's really not an economic case for it. And maybe that's beyond your your purview. But


Jeremy Whitlock  53:44  

well, I think I'm in favor of it, because I'm not only a nuclear nerd, but I know that we have, you know, let's say 200 years of uranium left at the at the economic level that we have for extracting it now. And the caveat there is as things as as it runs out, of course, you find more uranium because then you're driving the searching for it. For example, we when we found the mother lode of uranium under Saskatchewan, we stopped looking at that point, but there's probably more elsewhere in that area. And it's just that it's very expensive to go down into it. Yeah,


Chris Keefer  54:21  

we're gonna do an episode. We're gonna do an episode on that soon. But I was talking to the CEO of standard uranium, which is a prospecting firm up there. And yeah, it's tricky, you know, yes, it gives off radiation. But you know, there anyway, well, we'll get into that with him because I'm so


Jeremy Whitlock  54:35  

I'm in favor of all those technologies. And here at the IAEA, I'm heavily involved in working out what the safeguards of those technologies might be. And so that's really, really interesting work. But But I realized that we do have to expand the use of nuclear power on this planet. It's not going to be with with these technologies, we should should absolutely be working on the on the hairy edge of the technologies that are available to us. And so as more power to you, and if you can build some prototypes even better, but we haven't exhausted the traditional style yet or not traditional style, but the advanced version of the traditional style. And so and so those reactors, I think, can we should be building more can do like enhance candy reactors, advanced candy reactors in Canada, and advanced version of lightwater reactors and reservoir


Chris Keefer  55:26  

people we have, we have won through the vendor design, review the enhanced CANDU, six. So those are not fantasy objects. They do exist. We're running out of time, Jeremy. I mean, we're gonna have to have you back to dive deeper. But and I know it's not the IAEA is purview to make up the consequences for when a country you know, abandons the NPT. But, you know, in my discussion with and research before interviewing, you know, this grandfather of not only nuclear energy, but also nuclear weapons in India, Dr. Anil Coker. You know, India did run into some some issues as a result of exiting the NPT. Can you a much, you know, can you tell me a little bit about I don't like it's not the enforcement of the IEA. But what what are the consequences? You know, we've talked about how hard it would be for terrorists to, you know, to do this, but what are the consequences that countries face for withdrawing from the NPT and maybe using India as a specific example?


Jeremy Whitlock  56:15  

Yeah. So India, I mean, you could use it as an analogy for as a proxy for withdrawing from the NPT. But the truth is, they couldn't sign the NPT in the first place. And so that's because because they, the NPT doesn't have a space for them. If you sign the NPT, you're either a country you're either one of the five allowed nuclear weapons states, or you're not. And if you're not, I mean, you don't have nuclear, there's no, there's no square for people that have nuclear weapons. But Aren't those the P five states? So India has not signed the NPT simply because it's not, there's no, they can't, that they'd have to give up their nuclear weapons. And they don't want to do that. And why do they have nuclear weapons? Well, the same reason that the US has nuclear weapons because they have an enemy or a perceived enemy, in their case, a real enemy that also has nuclear weapons. And they wanted


Chris Keefer  57:00  

interestingly, that was not Pakistan, because Pakistan came after that was China. That's what's that's what I find fascinating. And obviously, there's been border conflicts between China and India. And, you know, my friend Mark Nelson was joking about, you know, this is what a border conflict looks like, between two nuclear armed powers. And basically, it was stick fighting. You know, I think there was someone who maybe got killed or injured. But, you know, that is an interesting aspect of it. But yeah, anyway, I mean, there was a domino effect, because Pakistan got got the bomb as well. When that domino stop, it's it's a geopolitical question, I guess. But


Jeremy Whitlock  57:30  

and so when consequences wasn't, doesn't have to support that, but you recognize that they they made this this decision, for the same reason that other countries that have weapons made the same decision. So but but they had received nuclear assistance from from Canada and the US in the form of a research reactor. And then we were in the process of building a couple of power reactors in India. And it was under this agreement, pre safeguards, pre IAEA safeguards. So that we we had a form of a rudimentary form of safeguards, but it wasn't what you see, even in the mid 70s, let alone what we have today. And let's just say what it was, it was more of a gentleman's agreement, you won't use this for evil, right? Yes, I won't. Okay. And, and so then, but they, but they did, and as soon as they did, then they, all nuclear cooperation from the world was was dropped. And then they were basically isolated. And they, to their credit, continued to develop a nuclear their nuclear program, not just sort of reverse engineering, the reactors that were partially finished in their, in their country and building a lot more like that. But But saying, Well, look, we don't have uranium, and we're not gonna be able to buy uranium from the world. So how else can we make uranium? Well, we can do this thing where you make the you breed plutonium into the fuel. And they can also do this thing where you put thorium and we have a lot of thorium. And we can make uranium with that. So they have this is a multi pronged approach to their nuclear program. And they proceeded to do that for the next few few decades. And so more power to them, literally more power to them for doing that, and, and expanding their nuclear program. But all of that was without the cooperation of the glove and not not every country has the ability to do that. So when you cross the line, you are cut off. And you become then the focus of the other parts of the of the world's security infrastructure for you know, for making sure that you don't cross the line even further. So the military gets involved if that's what the Security Council wants to do sort of thing. So all of this comes down on you when when you when you decide to use nuclear technology for for non peaceful purposes.


Chris Keefer  59:49  

Okay, Jeremy. Fascinating. We'll park it there, because we do try and keep to an hour. But I have no doubt we'll be talking in the very near future if you'll be so great. Just as to return to this humble podcast


Jeremy Whitlock  1:00:04  

is just like Saturday Night Live. I get to say I'm a three time host, maybe


Chris Keefer  1:00:10  

three time guest you got to earn it. You got to earn it, but I think you will soon. Okay. Well, I mean, I feel like that's an abrupt halt. If me if there's anything else you want it to get off on the on the nonproliferation side, I invite you to do it. Now. You don't have to forever hold your peace. But we next week,


Jeremy Whitlock  1:00:26  

I think well, there's so much more to say on proliferation that we can leave that for for another episode. But I would like to say that one final note, one final observation on the Great Debate was, I find it interesting that the the argument made was about SMR is against us Americans that that we can't develop them fast enough to solve the climate crisis. And to me this is a bit amusing, because because, I mean, part of the reason we haven't expanded the nuclear industry to date and not had the climate crisis in the first place, was because of people like that, who, who opposed it. But it's interesting to me that that a person can be opportunity opportunistic enough to, to not say their real reason, which is I don't like nuclear technology. But but to move to. Yeah, but you just can't build it fast enough. It's like, okay, so that's where we are now that we can't build


Chris Keefer  1:01:20  

it. But we would love your cooperation that to help streamline and if you want,


Jeremy Whitlock  1:01:24  

we can build these things in three years, right. I mean, that's what ACL was talking about. At one point. Technically, you can build them in three years. And then everything else added on is, is the administrative stuff, and the and the and the reviews and all of that stuff, which which is needed, but But I mean, the actual building of it, we could be building these things every three years, if you could somehow prioritize the other aspects of it. So if that's what you want, if it's important, we can do it. Are you saying it's important enough? And of course, that's not what they're saying. But that's why I find it interesting that you lead off with speed of construction.


Chris Keefer  1:02:02  

It was it was interesting, because I was heading into the lion's den of the event was organized by Gordon Edwards, one of his chief kind of collaborators and partners in I won't say crime and anti nuclear ism. Susan O'Donnell, the other organizer, Ryan, I'm sorry, I'm blanking on his name. I mean, he's not an anti nuclear activist, but certainly on the record cats on the record all over Twitter, with pretty pretty anti nuclear sentiment. So it was going into the lion's den and I think it was interesting because I think they really thought they were going to like Edwards is going to deliver the knockout blow and you know, preparing for it. It was it was a bit nerve wracking because I'm not a proliferation expert. I'm not a weapons expert. But again, I wanted to thank you for helping me arrive not just at that rhetorical understanding, but at that kind of deeper understanding of of the anti nuclear mindset and of the need to acknowledge what must be acknowledged but to have a critical reasoning based approach to to discussing this technology. So Jeremy, what it comes down to Yep. Yeah, but thank you for everything for your your mentorship and advice and for coming back on decouple and let's make it a hattrick soon.


Jeremy Whitlock  1:03:10  

Thanks, Chris. It's a pleasure talking to you soon.



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