Nuclear morning?

The nuclear community has been abuzz lately with talk of a “nuclear renaissance“—a prophesied increase in the use of nuclear energy due to its low greenhouse emissions and relative dependability. Charles Ferguson and Sharon Squassoni outlined their concerns for FP here, and in fact, a lot of nonproliferation wonks have been agonizing over this for ...

600844_070626_greennukes2.jpg
600844_070626_greennukes2.jpg

The nuclear community has been abuzz lately with talk of a "nuclear renaissance"—a prophesied increase in the use of nuclear energy due to its low greenhouse emissions and relative dependability. Charles Ferguson and Sharon Squassoni outlined their concerns for FP here, and in fact, a lot of nonproliferation wonks have been agonizing over this for a different reason than Ferguson and Squassoni lay out: An increase in nuclear energy will almost inevitably involve the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies.

Here's something else for the wonks to chew over. At this week's Carnegie Nonproliferation Conference, Mark Hibbs of Nucleonics Weekly, one of the most careful reporters in the field, expressed his belief that if nuclear power expands as projected, the current market to supply precision materials will not be sufficient to meet demand. This could force the creation of a "second tier" of nuclear suppliers who, by virtue of inexperience, callousness, or other factors, may be less committed to export controls like those recommended by the Nuclear Suppliers Group

If Hibbs is right, a lot of dangerous technology could wind in the hands of the wrong people. Watch this space.

The nuclear community has been abuzz lately with talk of a “nuclear renaissance“—a prophesied increase in the use of nuclear energy due to its low greenhouse emissions and relative dependability. Charles Ferguson and Sharon Squassoni outlined their concerns for FP here, and in fact, a lot of nonproliferation wonks have been agonizing over this for a different reason than Ferguson and Squassoni lay out: An increase in nuclear energy will almost inevitably involve the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies.

Here’s something else for the wonks to chew over. At this week’s Carnegie Nonproliferation Conference, Mark Hibbs of Nucleonics Weekly, one of the most careful reporters in the field, expressed his belief that if nuclear power expands as projected, the current market to supply precision materials will not be sufficient to meet demand. This could force the creation of a “second tier” of nuclear suppliers who, by virtue of inexperience, callousness, or other factors, may be less committed to export controls like those recommended by the Nuclear Suppliers Group

If Hibbs is right, a lot of dangerous technology could wind in the hands of the wrong people. Watch this space.

Eric Hundman is a science fellow at the Center for Defense Information. His research focuses on emerging technology, terrorism and nuclear policy, including the conventionalization of nuclear forces. He contributes a series of posts for Passport on nuclear technology called “Nuke Notes.”

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