Former LANL Chemist Blogs On All Things Nuclear

By Anne Constable
The Santa Fe New Mexican.

One Santa Fean paying close attention to the historic nuclear deal with Iran is Cheryl Rofer, a retired Los Alamos National Laboratory chemist who has worked on environmental cleanup projects in Estonia and Kazakhstan.

On Nuclear Diner, the blog she writes with two other people, Rofer posts her own views about Iran agreeing to curb its nuclear program in return for the end of United Nations sanctions, as well as topics such as civilian power reactors, nuclear weapons and nonproliferation. “I’m trying to write things other people aren’t writing that I think important,” she said in a recent interview.

Sometimes, she admits, she gets into the “wonky weeds,” but Nuclear Diner’s goal is to “give explanations that help people make sense of what they are seeing in the news.”

Last Sunday was an example of such a post. It addressed concerns about the verification provisions of the Iran nuclear deal.

“Not mentioned is that all the parties to the agreement have access to highly detailed photographs of the earth’s surface, updated frequently,” she wrote. “Those photos are part of what the government calls National Technical Means. In the United States, it is run by the National Reconnaissance Office.

“But there’s yet another layer of verification. Satellite photos are easily available to the public. Look up your house on Google Earth or Google Maps. It’s fun, and a lot of people do it.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors will have access to Iranian uranium mines and mills, processing facilities, and centrifuge factories, she pointed out. “All of these facilities can also be watched from above. Mines are easier to see than centrifuge factories, but the centrifuge factories have additional verification measures to open up their visibility.”

She writes, “The [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] verification is tight enough that, in order to make a bomb, Iran would have to open up a parallel chain from mine to centrifuge. Only one link in that chain, one facility, needs to be uncovered.”

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