Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Editorial goof in The New York Times: centrifuges do not process uranium "ore"

An article in The New York Times by Warren Hoge and Elaine Sciolino entitled "Security Council Adds Sanctions Against Iran" has a technical mistake that the editorial staff should have detected -- if they knew what they were talking about. The fourth paragraph says:

It adds 13 names to the existing list of 5 individuals and 12 companies subject to travel and asset restrictions. The new names include people with direct responsibility for building fast-spinning centrifuges that enrich uranium ore and a brigadier general engaged in "efforts to get around the sanctions" in the two earlier resolutions.

The phrase "centrifuges that enrich uranium ore" is technically incorrect. Ore is simply rock. You can mine ore, your can mill ore, and you can refine ore, but the feedstock for enrichment or the separation of isotopes in centrifuges is distinctly not rock, but a gas (which is a crystal at room temperature), a long way and a significant number of processing steps from "ore."

Now, let's see if a correction is forthcoming.

-- Jack Krupansky

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