Proliferation

The Dangerous Link

"The development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes and the development of atomic energy for bombs are in much of their course interchangeable and interdependent." - U.S. Committee on Atomic Energy (1946)

No other energy source is so closely associated with the destructive and dangerous power of nuclear weapons. As noted in the quote above, it has been known since the beginning of the nuclear age that nuclear energy and weapons production are intimately connected. There are numerous examples of countries that have used their civilian nuclear energy infrastructure to produce nuclear weapons as well as examples of countries that have threatened to do so. An increase in nuclear energy use worldwide, would also increase the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Past and current proposals to lessen or minimize the proliferation impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle have failed, in large part, because of the discriminatory nature of the non-proliferation regime. At its heart, a few weapons states intend to continue their reliance on nuclear weapons as central to their national security while they forbid other states to do so. Even more dangerous, is the fact that the technological barriers for countries or terrorists to master the nuclear fuel cycle have lessened significantly, increasing the proliferation risks.

This section will evaluate the proliferation impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle and why a resurgence in nuclear power production will only worsen the situation.