Nuclear Energy and Proliferation
By Otfried Nassauer, BITS
The complete paper (32 pages, 155 KB, pdf) can be downloaded here.
Any civilian nuclear fuel cycle and especially some of the elements thereof confront the world with certain security-related risks. Nuclear materials, nuclear know-how, and technology can be proliferated. Nuclear experts can travel or migrate. This is and has been well known for decades. History provides us with telling examples. The very existence of a wide range of specific precautionary measures such as nonproliferation policies, specific export controls, personnel screening, and reliability programs for employees are additional proof per se that proliferation risks are real.
This paper contains a short survey of the proliferation risks associated with the civilian use of nuclear energy. It looks at the major elements of the fuel cycle and their potential to play a role in proliferation. It takes a look at state and non-state actors and their capability to exploit proliferation risks of civilian nuclear installations for getting access to nuclear materials, nuclear technology, and nuclear know-how. It conducts a short survey of the major nonproliferation measures already in existence or under consideration. Finally it takes a short look at the future. What are the prospects for the civilian use of nuclear energy and what implications for future proliferation risks can be predicted?