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Are Uranium Weapons Made of Uranium?

Are Uranium Weapons Made of Uranium?

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Published by pzimmer3
This is a chapter from the book "A Primer in the Art of Deception" describing uranium's radioactivity and the biological hazard posed by depleted uranium weapons.
This is a chapter from the book "A Primer in the Art of Deception" describing uranium's radioactivity and the biological hazard posed by depleted uranium weapons.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: pzimmer3 on Mar 17, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/11/2013

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 A Primer in the Art of  Deception
The Cult ofNuclearists, Uranium Weaponsand Fraudulent Scienceby Paul Zimmerman
Copies ofthis book can be ordered at www.du-deceptions.comor by contacting the author at either du-deceptions@yahoo.comor P.O. Box 145, Lyndonville, NY 14098
 
386 
The twenty-first Century is a complex time in which to live. In previous eras, it wasrelatively easy to identify monstrous acts ofsavagery. Ifa barbarian horde rode roughshodover a community and slaughtered 50,000 people, there would be no room for debate as towhether or not an atrocity had been committed. But in this century, carnage can be subtleand sublime. Crimes against humanity are perpetrated in the atomic realm, silently andinvisibly. Thunderless cannonade by photons and subatomic particles, set offwithin thedepths ofa human body, decimate biomolecular structures and initiate disease processes.Debilitating illness, cancer, birth defects: these are the types ofdevastations delivered by thenuclear war waged beneath a victim’s skin.Depleted uranium is devilish in its complexity. It is not a simple substance and doesnot behave, once inside the human body, in simple ways. Muddled thinking frequentlyobscures the subject, even by professionals whoshould know better. Frequently, those whowrite about DU err by rendering the topic overly simplistic. Others, with more sinisterintentions, gloss over the details so as to hide the vectors ofDU’s toxicity.In the Earth’s crust, uranium is present in the form ofthree different isotopes. Interms oftheir relative concentration, 99.2749% is U-238, 0.7196% is U-235 and 0.0055%is U-234 (Dietz 1999a). Wherever this natural, non-depleted uranium is found, theradioisotopes in its decay series are also present. The decay products ofU-238includethorium-234, protactinium-234, uranium-234, thorium-230, radium-226, radon-222, polo-nium-218, lead-214, bismuth-214, polonium-214, lead-210, bismuth-210 and polonium-210. Stability is finally achieved for each atom when it transmutes into lead-206. The
8
Are Uranium Weapons Made of Uranium?
This is an excerpt from the book
 A Primer in the Art ofDeception
by Paul Zimmerman
 
 Are Uranium Weapons Made ofUranium? 
387 
decay chain ofU-235is different. Its daughter products include thorium-231, protactini-um-231, actinium-227, thorium-227, radium-223, radon-219, polonium 215, lead-211, bis-muth-211 and thallium-207. This series reaches stability with lead-207. The half-life ofU-238is 4.49 billion years. The half-life ofU-235is 710 million years. The third isotope of uranium found in nature is U-234. It is a decay product ofU-238. It is much less abun-dant than the other two uranium isotopes, and its half-life is 245,000 years.After uranium-bearing ore is mined, it is transported to a uranium mill. Here, theuranium is chemically separated from the other material present in the rock, including itsdaughter radioisotopes, and concentrated into a product called “yellowcake.” Yellowcake,a coarse powder, is approximately 80 percent triuranium octaoxide (U
3
O
8
 ). This uraniumhas the same relative concentrations ofU-238, U-235 and U-234 as the uranium found innature. The next step in the uranium fuel cycle is the conversion ofyellowcakeinto usablefuel for nuclear reactors or bombs. For a small number ofreactors, such as the CanadianCANDU reactor, uranium need not be enriched. For these, fuel pellets are produced sim-ply by converting the uranium in yellowcaketo uranium dioxide(UO
2
 ) metal. The major-ity ofnuclear reactors, however, require slightly enriched uraniumto sustain their chainreaction. To achieve this, the relative concentration ofU-235 in a mass ofuranium mustbe increased from 0.7196% to between three and five percent. Certain types ofnuclearweapons also require enriched uranium, and for these, the relative concentration ofU-235must exceed 90 percent.The process ofuranium enrichment first requires yellowcaketo be converted to ura-nium hexafluoride(UF
6
 ). UF
6
is a solid at room temperature. When heated to 134
o
F(57
o
C), it sublimes, entering a gaseous state. Either through the gaseous diffusion or gascentrifuge process, the lighter atoms ofU-235 are separated from the heavier atoms ofU-238 and then concentrated. As a consequence ofthe enrichment process, two differentproducts are produced: enriched uraniumand depleted uranium. Both leave the enrich-ment facility as UF
6
. Enriched uraniumcontains proportionally more U-235 than the ura-nium found in nature. Depleted uranium is only “depleted” ofa portion ofits U-235 con-tent. The relative concentration ofthe three isotopes ofuranium in depleted uranium isas follows: 99.7947% is U-238, 0.2015% is U-235 and 0.0008% is U-234. These numberscan be somewhat variable. The definition ofdepleted uranium by the Nuclear RegulatoryCommission is uranium with a U-235 content less than 0.72%. The Department of Defense requires that uranium used for military purposes have a U-235 content ofless than0.3%.The differences between non-depleted and depleted uranium may be visualized inthe form ofthe following table, reproduced from the IAEA website. It is important to note

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