Four days ago, a friend in Japan who is a good mountain-climber teamed up with 40 Japanese workers, drilled a hole into the reactor, took an Olympus-made endoscope, a few ropes, and shot this short and simple 1-minute movie from the 2nd reactor of Fukushima I.
The white mottles are gamma rays – which is just friendly light whose color is somewhat more violet than violet, if you haven't heard of gamma rays – while the white strings are water droplets.
He said that the air inside the reactor was very fresh – it reminded him of the Rocky Mountains near Boulder, Colorado – and he enjoyed the visit. It's not clear why some people, some of whom are tens of thousands of kilometers away from the facility, are scared about the gadget. And if M-theory were allowed to show its muscles in their full glory, the amount of radiation would decrease with the 9th and not just 2nd power of the distance from the reactor. ;-)
More seriously, it still seems to be the case that almost one year after a rather large earthquake and the resulting tsunami damaged the power plant, there hasn't been a single casualty related to the nuclear technology. But the fear of the "invisible killer" has been spread so efficiently that it is de facto hardwired in the brains of most of us – in some sense, the list of victims includes your humble correspondent.
The analysis of the interior of the reactor through a 13-millimeter hole showed that the radioactivity and humidity is probably very high over there and many things can't be seen too well. At the same moment, the systems of cables, tubes, and the structures supporting them don't seem to be damaged. Because one can see things that are 4 meters above the floor, it follows that water in the containment isn't going this high. The temperature was confirmed to be 44.7 °C.
Various major steps in the deconstruction and decontamination of the facility could be completed as early as in 2012. Japanese authorities have asked the international nuclear agency to create a permanent observatory on that place. The average citizen of Fukushima only received 0.25 mSv; for about 100 people, it's been 1-3 mSv. Note that the TRF rule-of-thumb quantifies death as 5 Sv.
Japan was continuing its process of turning the reactors off; 54 reactors running a year ago were reduced to 5. However, the deficit of energy and growing energy prices obviously strengthen calls to restart some of the reactors.
Meanwhile, Iran is working hard to build its own nuclear industry, probably one capable of producing weapons as well. The European Union approved an immediate EU-wide Iranian oil embargo. You can't sign new contracts; previously signed contracted may continue for 6 more months. Whether this policy will be efficient is to be seen: China, the #1 importer of Iranian oil, won't join any sanctions and could even buy the oil that would be otherwise sent to Europe.
I am sure that the sanctions are already hurting Iran – much more so than they are hurting the West, despite some propaganda claiming the opposite. The weakening of the Iranian rial from 10,000 per dollar a month ago to 20,500 per dollar today is pretty brutal and it may continue.
A banknote with six zeroes, if I count the bigot who is copied at every single one of them, regardless of the numerical value, doesn't exactly emit the scent of a hard currency. ;-)
It is also pretty clear that these powerful sanctions must have crossed some "red line" as defined by the Iranian apparatchiks. The same thing has taken place on the U.S. side. Both sides obviously have all the evidence they need to start a siege of Strait of Hormuz or any other act of a "hot war". But no one seems to be willing to do so right now so all the threats look kind of ludicrous.
That doesn't mean that there won't be any war in Iran. I still think it's "more likely than not" that a war in Iran will erupt in less than one year from now.