Dimona Nuclear Program

No, Israel has not attacked Iran. But she has opened a new nuclear engineering program at Ben Gurion University in the Negev city of Be’er Sheva. The main purpose of the program is to install nuclear scientists into the Israel Atomic Energy Commission in Dimona as well as to help improve the country’s electric company by helping it develop a solar-nuclear power plant.

The program, according to the BGU website, offers degrees in the fields of nuclear energy, medicine, radiation biology and other radiation related technologies. The program includes an internships at the Soreq Nuclear Research Center and even at the Dimona plant itself.

The new power plant being planned for the town of Shivta in the Negev, which intends to hire many of the nuclear engineers that will come out of Ben Gurion, will be designed to produce around 1,200 megawatts from a combination of nuclear and solar energy. It’s completion is set for 2020.

Both nuclear power and solar power are considered to be clean sources of energy, even though nuclear energy produces the radioactive isotope Strontium-90 which must be stored underground indefinitely. Nuclear power is relatively clean because, like solar power, it does not produce greenhouse gasses and therefore does not contribute to global warming.

Israel’s nuclear power capabilities are limited however, since it is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and has been unable to purchase a nuclear reactor from Western sources as a result. This raises questions as to how it has been able to maintain a supposed stockpile of nuclear weapons. Israel is rumored to control a stockpile of about 400 thermonuclear weapons, word of which came out in the 90?s when Mordecai Vanunu, a Dimona nuclear scientist who converted to Christianity, illegally spoke to the press about nuclear allegations regarding the Jewish State.

Could the new program at Ben Gurion be the first step towards a domestically produced Israeli nuclear reactor? Time will tell.