Soreq Nuclear Research Center (SNRC)

View All Israel Facilities

Last Updated: January 1, 2011
Other Name: Merkaz Kemechkar Gariini (MAMAG)
Location: Yavne, Israel
Subordinate To: Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC)
Size: Large complex of buildings
Facility Status: Operational

According to the website of the Soreq Nuclear Research Center (SNRC), the research center serves numerous purposes. Research at Soreq focuses on introduction and incorporation of radiation-based techniques for practical use, such as developing equipment for nuclear medicine and radio-pharmaceutics and testing and developing methods to detect contraband and security-threat materials. [1]

Soreq has several divisions: ElectroOptics, Non-Destructive Testing, a National Radiation Safety Center, the Israel Research Reactor-1 (IRR-1), the Space Environment Group, and Radiopharmaceutics. The facility has a 10 MeV proton cyclotron accelerator in addition to its research reactor. Soreq is in the process of constructing a new research facility called the Soreq Applied Research Accelerator Facility (SARAF), which will house a proton deuteron RF superconducting linear accelerator. This project is expected to be completed by 2013. [2]

According to a declassified Pentagon study, "nuclear weapons design and fabrication" reportedly takes place at the Soreq Nuclear Research Center. [3]

Research Reactor

The Israeli Research Reactor-1 (IRR-1) is a 5MW U.S. supplied pool-type light water reactor. [4] According to the Soreq website, the reactor's uses include "research and training in nuclear engineering, neutron radiography and diffraction, activation analysis and changing colors of semi-precious and precious stones." [5] The facility is under IAEA safeguards. [6]

The U.S. government donated the IRR-1 to Israel under President Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace Program. [7] On 12 July 1955, the United States and Israel signed a general agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation, which included the provision of a small research reactor. [8] Construction on the IRR-1 began in January 1958 and the reactor reached criticality in June 1960. The reactor is light water cooled and moderated with a light water reflector. It is operated six hours per day, two days per week and forty weeks per year by a small staff of 16 (including six operators). [9] The IRR-1 is fueled by 93% HEU, originally provided by the United States. [10] Due to its small size, the reactor cannot produce significant quantities of plutonium. [11]

Proton Cyclotron Accelerator

Open source details regarding the SNRC's proton accelerator are limited, but the proliferation implications of this facility are low. According to R. Scott Kemp in his article "Nuclear Proliferation with Particle Accelerators," conventional cyclotrons with energy below 25 MeV do not have the ability to penetrate uranium nuclei and are not capable of low-yield spallation, which produces the neutron beams necessary for a nuclear chain reaction. [16]

Applied Research Accelerator Facility (SARAF)

Soreq purchased its proton/deuteron RF superconducting linear accelerator from Accel Instruments GmbH of Germany. Soreq will construct the facility in two phases and expects that it will be completed by 2013. Phase II of the construction will begin after completing experiments in accelerating protons and deuterons up to approximately 5 MeV at beam currents of 0.04 - 2 mA. Phase II involves the design and construction of additional components of the accelerator, and will accelerate protons and deuterons up to 40 MeV. The SARAF website has more technical information on the construction phases of the accelerator. [17] Soreq envisions the following applications for the accelerator: "basic research in nuclear sciences, medical and biological research, neutron-based non-destructive testing, and development and production of radiopharmaceuticals." [18]

Sources:
[1] "About Soreq," Soreq Nuclear Research Centre, www.soreq.gov.il.
[2] "Soreq Applied Research Accelerator Facility (SARAF)," Soreq Nuclear Research Centre, www.soreq.gov.il.
[3] Hans M. Kristensen and Joshua Handler, "Appendix 10A: World Nuclear Forces," in SIPRI Yearbook 2002: Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 565.
[4] "Nuclear Research Reactors in the World," International Atomic Energy Agency, www.iaea.org.
[5] "Home Page," Soreq Nuclear Research Centre, www.soreq.gov.il.
[6] "Home Page," Soreq Nuclear Research Centre, www.soreq.gov.il.
[7] "Home Page," Soreq Nuclear Research Centre, www.soreq.gov.il.
[8] Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), p. 44.
[9] "Nuclear Research Reactors in the World," International Atomic Energy Agency, www.iaea.org.
[10] "Research Reactors," World Nuclear Association, October 2010, www.world-nuclear.org; "Research Reactor Details - IRR-1," IAEA, Accessed 6 January 2011, www-naweb.iaea.org, State of Research Reactor Details - IRR-1.htm.
[11] "Israel's Nuclear Weapon Capability: An Overview," The Risk Report, 2 no. 6 (July-August 1996), www.wisconsinproject.org.
[12] "Update on shipments of research reactor fuel to the U.S.," International Panel on Fissile Materials, 26 April 2010, www.fissilematerials.org.
[13] "SRNS News," Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, February 2010, www.savannahrivernuclearsolutions.com; Mike Gellatly, "SRS receives enriched uranium from Turkey," Aiken Standard, 21 January 2010.
[14] "HEU from Turkey and Israel Returns to U.S.," Nuclear Monitor, 29 January 2010, www.nirs.org.
[15] "Israel: Nuclear Monopoly in Danger," in Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, ed. Mark Fitzpatrick (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008), p. 131.
[16] R. Scott Kemp, "Nuclear Proliferation with Particle Accelerators," Science and Global Securitym, no.13 (2005), www.princeton.edu.
[17] "Accelerator Construction Phases," Soreq Nuclear Research Centre, www.soreq.gov.il.
[18] "Soreq Applied Research Accelerator Facility (SARAF)," Soreq Nuclear Research Centre, www.soreq.gov.il.

Country Profile
Flag of Israel
Israel

This article provides an overview of Israel's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

Learn More →

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.