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Science
THE ZIPPE TYPE - The Poor Man's Bomb
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Wednesday 19 May 2004 9.00-9.30pm

This is the extraordinary story of Dr Gernot Zippe, a pensioner currently living in Germany, who invented a uranium centrifuge which gave Iraq, Pakistan and North Korea the potential to build cheap nuclear bombs.

The Zippe Type
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Eighty-six-year-old Dr Zippe invented the Zippe-Type centrifuge which has now become the easiest way to make fuel for reactors as well as weapons of terrifying power.

In his first ever broadcast interview he tells the programme how he was kidnapped soon after the end of WWII and held prisoner in the Soviet Union where he was ordered to find an easy way of producing uranium’s rare U-235 isotope. Having done as he was asked he was freed by the Soviets only for the Americans to order him to repeat the process for their benefit.

Years later his plans were stolen by the Pakistani government who sold the secrets of the Zippe-Type on to North Korea and Iran allowing them to develop their nuclear industry. Another German scientist sold his plans to Saddam Hussein who used them as the basis for his attempt to acquire the bomb.

Dr Zippe remains philosophical about the chaos his invention has caused around the globe. “With a kitchen knife you can peel a potato or kill your neighbour,” he says. “It’s up to governments to use the centrifuge for the benefit of mankind.”
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