A Nuclear Question A Nuclear Question A Nuclear Question

Yehonatan Maroz

“It is possible to harness nuclear power to produce electricity, assuming we can safely do so and that we are prepared to be part of a world where any country has the right to build multiple nuclear facilities”, said Prof. Nathan Louis of the California Institute of Technology in his speech to IDF’s Air-Force officers. “The meaning of such a scenario, at which hundreds and potentially even thousands of nuclear reactors are built worldwide, is that each country will have to lay out the cards on the table, and act in complete openness and transparency with regards to its nuclear intentions”.

Prof. Louis voiced his opinion during the “Air force and the Academy conference”, an annual event, organized for the 5th year in a row. The event is jointly organized by the head of Air Force Human Resources Division, Brigadier General Rami Ben-Efraim, Prof. Moti Hevyon and his wife, Dr. Shlomit Hevyon. This year’s subject was Energy: nuclear, alternative, and directed-energy weapons.

The conference was led by the Air-force commander, Major General Ido Nechustan and was attended by high ranking officers.

In his speech, that opened the conference, Prof. Louis offered a global perspective on the energy problem. “It’s not about science, it’s about risk assessment. We can’t solve this problem, without properly evaluating our enemy”.

Many nuclear experts were invited to come and talk at the conference. Gideon Frank, who served over 14 years as the head of the Israeli Nuclear Commission discussed the importance of nuclear power, versus the risks involved in using it. In his speech, he discussed cases where the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was breached. “It does not matter what country we talk about, the initial discovery always came from an outside intelligence source. The International Atomic Agency cannot make the initial discovery. However, upon being informed of a, they investigate quite thoroughly. The agency is able to determine with remarkable accuracy, whether a particular location was used for Uranium enrichment”.

An interesting lecture was delivered by Prof. Itzhak Ben-Israel, a retired air force Major General, on the use of directed energy weapons. “In the last five years there has been a rapid development of laser and electromagnetic pulse technology. The developments come as the concept of war is changing from the classic battle-field view, to a different, modern type of war. Laser technology has great advantages, as its light-speed beams allow to buy more time, and the cost is significantly lower compared with today’s anti-missile technology, where each rocket might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. “With lasers, you only pay for the energy you used”, says Prof. Ben-Israel.

Another notable lecture was conducted by Prof. Nir Shaviv of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Prof. Shaviv drew audience’s attention to flaws in the global-warming theory, and offered alternative explanations to the rising temperatures of recent years. “We have no indication that Carbon Dioxide is an important contributing factor to the rising temperatures. Earth’s global climate is much less sensitive than what we are being told. 20th century rise in temperature is not only due to human activity. The sun has a primary effect on earth, and that is clear as the sun”. Prof. Shaviv concluded his presentation with a quote of Mark Twain: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”.

Major General Nehustan concluded the day by saying: “we all diverted from our daily work to learn about new perspectives, to better understand how things work and why sometimes they don’t. Technology generates solutions on one hand, and creates a series of new problems and concerns on the other. We are committed to continued thinking, and solving of these new problems, as our reality has two sides. Whoever thinks better and faster, his side is the one to find the solution. That is the reason for today’s dialogue. It’s our way to foster creative, outside-the-box thinking in the search for solutions to operational challenges, and in general. I think that the bringing together of the air-force with the academy is very important for the cultural development of the air-force, to encourage open-minded thinking, and the in-depth learning of different topics. We are committed to continuing this relationship”.