IDF to simulate attack on Dimona nuclear reactor

Home Front Command to hold large exercise called “Fernando”; Israel closely studying recent crisis at Japan's Fukushima plant.

September 4, 2011 11:04
1 minute read.
Dimona nuclear reactor

311_dimona reactor. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The IDF Home Front Command and the Israel Atomic Energy Commission will hold a large exercise this week to simulate a missile attack against the Dimona nuclear reactor in the Negev.

The drill is being called “Fernando,” after the nuclear meltdown in 1959 in the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles. It took workers a month to regain control of the reactor and more than 50 years for the United States to clean up the contaminated site.

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Israel has closely studied the recent crisis in Japan following the earthquakes in Fukushima that led to a nuclear meltdown at a number of reactors, to draw lessons that can be applied in the event of a missile strike on the Dimona facilities.

In March, Prof. Uzi Even, a former top official at the Nuclear Research Center in Dimona warned that the reactor is aging and possible damage to its cooling system could result in a breakdown with far-reaching consequences.

Even noted that the technology in the Dimona reactor and the reactors in Japan was similar. "The reactors were built about the same time, 40-50 years ago. In principle, the planning of the reactors is similar. The soft underbelly is the cooling system, which must be operated with great force, even after the reactor is turned out," he said.

"If there is a breakdown in the cooling system, it will cause the core to collapse. That is what happened at the Japanese reactors," Even continued.

Globes contributed to this report

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