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PH planned to produce nuclear weapon – Enrile

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday disclosed for the first time that production of a nuclear weapon for the Philippines was among the objectives of the construction of the now mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

In a news forum in Quezon City, Enrile revealed about the preparation for a weapon of mass destruction planned during the administration of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

“By the way, if we continued with that power plant and we did not tinker with it, today, China will not challenge us even if we are a small nation,” said Enrile, who served as the defense chief during the Marcos regime.

“That was intended to prepare us to have nuclear weapons,” the opposition stalwart said.

The country, which is now the object of alleged bullying tactics of neighboring China, has lost it chance to produce its own nuclear weapon because the BNPP was mothballed even though government had fully paid its foreign loan to build it.

“At that time when we were setting up the Westinghouse nuclear power plant, there was no non-proliferation treaty yet. That was one of the plans,” Enrile said, referring to the world’s most devastating war weapon.

With Western powers vigilantly monitoring countries suspected of developing arms of mass destruction, the Philippines will find it difficult to produce one, he explained.

However, he was quick to stress that producing electricity was the main purpose of the BNPP.

“The plan was to produce electricity but the by-product was something else. But I do not know the mechanics or technology for it,” said Enrile.

The BNPP was built in Morong, Bataan, in an area facing the West Philippine Sea which is now the object of an intense territorial dispute between Philippines and China.

Approved by the Marcos government in 1973, the BNPP already cost government $2.3 billion in 1984 although it was not yet completed then. It was equipped with a Westinghouse light water reactor and was expected to produce 621 megawatts of electricity.

Enrile lamented that the project has become a white elephant although it had the capability to address the country’s power deficit felt by the time the next revolutionary government of President Corazon C. Aquino took over.

“Iyan ang masama sa atin, hindi natin pinag-aaralan ang ginagawa ng ating mga sinundan. Akala natin, kaaway sila kaya sinasali natin ang personal emotions natin sa interest ng bansa na magkaiba naman,” he said. (What’s wrong with us is that we do not try to learn from what our predecessors were doing. We consider them as enemies that is why we hold on to personal emotions against the interest of the country which are different.)

He added: “We are here to serve the interest of the nation and not our personal feelings and interest. If we continued with the Westinghouse project, we were ahead of Korea, we were ahead of everybody, perhaps, including China.”

The Cory Aquino administration that rose to power via the People Power revolution in 1986 decided not to operate the BNPP, apparently due to the disastrous effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Russia.

But also contributing to the decision were the strong opposition registered by residents of Bataan as well as the then strong anti-Marcos sentiment.

The Marcos family was accused of cashing in from kickbacks and bribery from the Westinghouse, the US-based builder of the BNPP. However, charges for overpricing and bribery filed by the Aquino government failed to prosper in a US court.

“Remember the (Cory) Aquino administration stopped the nuclear power plant that brought about the high cost of electricity and brown outs, and with that, stopped the economic progress of the land and caused the inability of our country to create jobs,” Enrile said.

On the other hand, the current Aquino government had “wasted it’s time jailing people whom they called corrupt, he added.

Enrile, together with fellow opposition Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., was among those charged with plunder by the current Aquino government. The elderly senator, who celebrates his 92nd birthday today, is free on bail while the two co-accused are still detained.

  • vm0303

    there are a few ways to get the fissile material to make a nuclear bomb. 1. enrich uranium, no nuclear plant required. 2. use a special type of uranium fueled reactor (very different from the BNPP) that is from the start designed to produce weapons grade plutonium 3. use a type of thorium reactor (again different from BNPP) to produce U-233. But note that U-233 bombs are quite difficult to make and only 3 U-233 bombs were ever made

    A “normal” light water reactor like the BNPP in normal operations only produces impure reactor grade plutonium which is much harder to handle and tends to be undergo premature detonation. No nuclear bomb ever made used reactor grade plutonium for good reason. All plutonium fueled nuclear bombs came from #2, special reactors designed for production of pure weapons grade plutonium