OSLO, Nov 10, Reuter: Norway said on Thursday it planned to Stop exports of heavy water, which can be used to make Nuclear ‘Weapons, after a series of embarrassing scandals over earlier shipments.

Foreign Minister Thorvald StoItenberg, announcing the planned ‘ban, told Parliament that international regulations had not stopped illegal trade in heavy water and should be strengthened.

Norway is currently trying to find out how its water, which can be used to make plutonium, was used by Israel and Romania. Oslo has also asked India to help trace a shipment it says was illegally rerouted to Bombay.

“The uncertainty we feel at this time…means that I will propose to the cabinet that we ban exports of heavy water,” Stoltenberg said. Tiny amounts used in medical and scientific research would be exempted.

He said the proposal, almost certain to be approved by parliament, would add heavy water to a list of strategic exports covered by recent Norwegian legislation.

“We are also in touch with the (Vienna-based) international atomic energy agency (IAEA) and some individual countries to see how we can improve the international control system,” he said.

“Experience…has shown that these systems in some countries can be avoided without legal consequences for those who do so.

“It was also shown to be the Case that countries, in some cases, have very little chance of finding out how the deliveries have been used,” he added.

Norway was the leading producer of heavy water, also known as deuterium oxide, in the 1950’s. It has insisted exports be used only for peaceful purposes.

In the latest scandal, Oslo said last week that 15 tons of heavy water sold to a West German firm in 1983 had been illegally rerouted to Bombay.

International regulations bar the shipment of more than one ton of water to India because it has refused to sign a non-proliferation treaty aimed at halting the spread of Nuclear weapons. India denies having such weapons but carried out its first nuclear explosion in 1974.

Stoltenberg said on Wednesday Norway wanted fresh talks with Israel over 20 tons of water it sold in a secret 1959 deal. Norway demanded to inspect the water after media reports in 1986 that Israel had used it to make Atomic bombs.

Israel, which refuses to confirm or deny that it possess such weapons, offered a compromise solution-since rejected by Oslo.

There is also a question over 12.5 tons of water sold to Romania in 1986. It was to be used in Nuclear power stations still under construction. Bucharest has denied media reports it was illegally rerouted to Israel.

Industrial giant Norsk Hydro A/S, the sole manufacturer of heavy water in Norway, said it would respect any ban on exports but production was now so small it would make little difference,

“We now produce between two and four tons a year,” Hydro spokesman Peter Kristofferson. “Our last major delivery was to Romania in 1986–and that was several years’ production. We have no other major orders on our books.”

Hydro has manufactured some 450 tons of the water since the early 1950’s and exported it to more than 35 countries.

Article extracted from this publication >> November 18, 1988