(JNS.org) A recent examination of Israel’s nuclear reactor site in Dimona has revealed signs of 1,537 defects to the site’s aging aluminum core, according to a study released at a scientific forum held in Tel Aviv, Haaretz reported.
According to the report, the reactor core, which houses the fuel rods where nuclear fission takes place, has absorbed a great deal of heat and radiation over the years, raising questions over its ability to operate.
Israel’s nuclear reactor was supplied by France in the late 1950s and became active in 1963. According to manufacturer standards, the reactors were intended to be operational for only 40 years.
Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is therefore not subject to monitoring by the United Nations-affiliated International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But Israel has voluntarily accepted to operate under IAEA standards. An independent nuclear commission reports directly to the Israeli prime minister.
According to a 2007 telegram by the U.S. Embassy in Israel that was leaked to the public as part of WikiLeaks, former deputy director of the reactor Prof. Eli Abramov said that Israel was changing some of the reactor’s systems, but that the reactor cannot be entirely replaced because it was built as a solitary unit. As such, a new reactor must be built.
Yet experts say that Israel does not possess the resources to build a new reactor, and that it is unlikely any country would help Israel without the Jewish state signing the NPT, which would likely mean Israel would need to give up its nuclear weapons.
Since being established in the 1960s, Israel has remained ambiguous about its nuclear program, neither confirming nor denying that it has nuclear weapons.