Nuclear energy Introduction While virtually the whole world stands against the development and use of nuclear weapons, attitudes vary when it comes to the development and use of nuclear energy. In addition, the health and environmental costs of nuclear energy are horrific. The possibility of accidents, such as that of Chernobyl or Three Mile Island, the threat of nuclear terrorism, the potentional for horizontal nuclear proliferation, the damaging effects from the entire nuclear cycle, from uranium mining to nuclear waste, all indicate that the risks of nuclear energy far outweigh the benefit.
This treatment of studies presented by the National Academy of Sciences differs from that found in Part 2, in that criticisms are examined in more detail. Spent-Fuel Standard and Demilitarization.
If no further processing occurs to the MOX after irradiation a once-through fuel cyclethe depleted fuel would be stored for posterity.
This combination introduces formidable barriers to re-use of the weapons-plutonium proliferation — a strong contribution to arms control.
In NAS issued a comprehensive report on proposed methods for disposing of fissile materials that might become surplus as a result nuclear arms reductions. Much of the debate has been emotionally charged, and some academic scientists have placed their reputations on the line.
Many who favored long-term storage of plutonium instead of demilitarization were seduced by two concerns: They wanted to avoid extending the lifetime of nuclear reactors, and they were not convinced of the effectiveness of demilitarization by reactor irradiation.
Their persistent anti-nuclear-power tone is why we have chosen to categorize them as ideologues on this issue lacking a better term ; this tone, we find, pervades their pronouncements. In its report on demilitarization of weapons plutonium, the NAS committee recommended three objectives: They agreed that reactor-grade plutonium in spent-fuel rods has an inherent degree of self-protection against diversion.
But they felt that interim storage was necessary because long-term disposition could take decades to complete. Gradually the NAS moved toward acceptance of at least one reactor-irradiation phase of weapons plutonium to satisfy its spent-fuel self-protection criterion, a conclusion that started to emerge in and consummated in Ironically, those who fear weapons plutonium and advise immobilization have come into conflict with other environmental interests that dispute government siting choices for nuclear-byproduct storage and underground burial.
This meant that degradation of weapons plutonium would be limited to only the first of what otherwise could be two or three cycles of irradiation and reprocessing. To meet primary security goals, the NAS in its mids studies stressed three objectives: Although securely stored, surplus plutonium through the years remained in forms that could be readily recovered for weapons.
Pressure thus built up to move ahead with either reactor irradiation or immobilization. However, single-track immobilization — simply mixing weapon-grade plutonium with some form of radiologically contaminated byproduct — has two afflictions from which it never be free: Three Strikes Against Immobilization.
The process of immobilization by vitrification has three strikes against it: Simply incorporating weapon-grade plutonium in a glass matrix does not diminish its isotopic potency, that is, its direct usefulness as a weapon material.
Marvin Miller from MIT and Frank von Hippel from Princeton have frequently expressed their opinion that all plutonium should be immobilized vitrified and buried — which would not reduce its military potential. Holdren explained his revised views about the demilitarized nature of reactor-grade plutonium: That means the path to reuse of spent fuel would be more difficult technically and politically — as well as easier to detect — than reusing weapons plutonium extracted from glass.
If, instead, they placed greater emphasis on fundamental nuclear physics, they might have come to the conclusions ultimately reached by their scientific and engineering peers at the Academy. Opposition to reactor degradation, stemming from misdirected fear of nuclear power, is often disguised as environmentalism.
For example, Arjun Makhijani, a self-styled environmentalist, in the February issue of his in-house publication Science for Democratic Action, argues that converting weapons plutonium in commercial plants raises concerns about proliferation and safety due to the use of plutonium as fuel.
He also mentions transportation and security issues. He prefers single-track immobilization, which he considers to be safer, faster, and cheaper — ignoring the NAS report that pointed out that immobilization was going nowhere.
In his view, U. The Academy late recanted their original single-track burial recommendation, having found that the immobilization concept did not benefit arms control and nonproliferation as well as the built-in isotopic barriers of MOX irradiation.
A two-fold approach, immobilizing reactor-grade plutonium civilian fuel and demilitarizing weapon-grade plutonium, would be good choice because reactor-grade material is produced in commercial plants, and weapon-grade plutonium is from surplus military weapons and stockpiles.
A modified dual-track approach — vitrification of spent civil fuel and MOX burnup of weapons plutonium — would have been a wise compromise and better use of scarce resources. By reprocessing leftovers from the first reactor incineration phase, and by continuing the cycle of burnup and reprocessing, the weapons plutonium could be converted isotopically to material practically useless for military applications.
Simplified, the two modified parallel pathways would then be: As a result, the untreated fuel is stored at increasingly congested reactor sites, awaiting transport to — and interim storage at — a national site in Nevada.
Because repository fuel storage consumes considerable underground space and its internal integrity to radioactive fission products is deteriorating, it would be better to process the fuel and then store or recycle the byproducts. In an unpublished paper by Richard L. Garwin, a Manhattan-Project physicist and frequently sought advisor to national committees, his bottom-line view is that separated reactor plutonium should be safeguarded just as thoroughly as weapon-grade materials; indeed, I agree that reactor-grade plutonium can be made into a devastating nuclear explosive but, experientially, not a qualified nuclear weapon.
The self-evident disutility of substituting reactor-grade plutonium within existing nuclear weapons is widely underrated, especially in the United States. Garwin, in my opinion, understates the engineering difficulties of efficient heat dissipation from a pit. He does not address the U.
The publication of this information would go a long way toward clarification.Nuclear-weapons data is extremely sensitive, so it’s difficult to sort through public information about whether reactor-grade plutonium can be weaponized.
Some prominent individuals have singled out reactor-grade plutonium as a weak link in proliferation . At the center of the nonproliferation regime is the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
this treaty is based upon an important tradeoff. The nonnuclear weapons states agree not to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, and the nuclear weapons states agree to engage in good faith negotiations for nuclear disarmament. Nuclear energy.
Introduction. While virtually the whole world stands against the development and use of nuclear weapons, attitudes vary when it comes to the development and use of nuclear energy.
It is nevertheless concerning that the head of state of the world’s leading nuclear power declined to attend, especially in light of its strong security interest in nuclear non-proliferation. The new threat posed by nuclear proliferation is the rapid rise in non-state actors' involvement in the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
As the world learned with the discovery of the secret A.Q. Khan supply network, that involvement includes illicit trafficking in nuclear- and nuclear weapons-related .
Although Iranian officials insist the program is peaceful, many in the international community are skeptical of Iran’s stated aims—and some allege there is no greater nuclear-weapons proliferation danger in the world today.