(Global Research by Yoichi Shimatsu) Confused and often conflicting reports out of Fukushima 1 nuclear plant cannot be solely the result of tsunami-caused breakdowns, bungling or miscommunication. Inexplicable delays and half-baked explanations from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) seem to be driven by some unspoken factor.
The smoke and mirrors at Fukushima 1 seem to obscure a steady purpose, an iron will and a grim task unknown to outsiders. The most logical explanation: The nuclear industry and government agencies are scrambling to prevent the discovery of atomic-bomb research facilities hidden inside Japan's civilian nuclear power plants.
A secret nuclear weapons program is a ghost in the machine, detectable only when the system of information control momentarily lapses or breaks down. A close look must be taken at the gap between the official account and unexpected events.
TEPCO, Japan’s nuclear power operator, initially reported three reactors were operating at the time of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Then a hydrogen explosion ripped Unit 3, run on plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (or MOX). Unit 6 immediately disappeared from the list of operational reactors, as highly lethal particles of plutonium billowed out of Unit 3. Plutonium is the stuff of smaller, more easily delivered warheads.
A fire ignited inside the damaged housing of the Unit 4 reactor, reportedly due to overheating of spent uranium fuel rods in a dry cooling pool. But the size of the fire indicates that this reactor was running hot for some purpose other than electricity generation. Its omission from the list of electricity-generating operations raises the question of whether Unit 4 was being used to enrich uranium, the first step of the process leading to extraction of weapons-grade fissionable material.
The bloom of irradiated seawater across the Pacific comprises another piece of the puzzle, because its underground source is untraceable (or, perhaps, unmentionable). The flooded labyrinth of pipes, where the bodies of two missing nuclear workers—never before disclosed to the press— were found, could well contain the answer to the mystery: a lab that none dare name.
In reaction to Prime Minister Naoto Kan's demand for prompt reporting of problems, the pro-nuclear lobby has closed ranks, fencing off and freezing out the prime minister's office from vital information. A grand alliance of nuclear proponents now includes TEPCO, plant designer General Electric, METI, the former ruling Liberal Democratic Party and, by all signs, the White House.
Cabinet ministers in charge of communication and national emergencies recently lambasted METI head Banri Kaeda for acting as both nuclear promoter and regulator in charge of the now-muzzled Nuclear and Industrial Safety Commission. TEPCO struck back quickly, blaming the prime minister's helicopter fly-over for delaying venting of volatile gases and thereby causing a blast at Reactor 2. For "health reasons,” TEPCO 's president retreated to a hospital ward, cutting Kan's line of communication with the company and undermining his site visit to Fukushima 1.
Kan is furthered hampered by his feud with Democratic Party rival Ichiro Ozawa, the only potential ally with the clout to challenge the formidable pro-nuclear coalition
The head of the Liberal Democrats, which sponsored nuclear power under its nearly 54-year tenure, has just held confidential talks with U.S. Ambassador John Roos, while President Barack Obama was making statements in support of new nuclear plants across the U.S.
Cut Off From Communications
The substance of undisclosed talks between Tokyo and Washington can be surmised from disruptions to my recent phone calls to a Japanese journalist colleague. While inside the radioactive hot zone, his roaming number was disconnected, along with the mobiles of nuclear workers at Fukushima 1 who are denied phone access to the outside world. The service suspension is not due to design flaws. When helping to prepare the Tohoku crisis response plan in 1996, my effort was directed at ensuring that mobile base stations have back-up power with fast recharge.
A subsequent phone call when my colleague returned to Tokyo went dead when I mentioned "GE.” That incident occurred on the day that GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt landed in Tokyo with a pledge to rebuild the Fukushima 1 nuclear plant. Such apparent eavesdropping is only possible if national phone carrier NTT is cooperating with the signals-intercepts program of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
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