Argument: New nuclear energy systems reduce risks of weapons use
- Patrick Moore, a prominent environmentalist and founding member of Greenpeace, "Going Nuclear A Green Makes the Case", Washington Post, 4/16/06 - "And new technologies such as the reprocessing system recently introduced in Japan (in which the plutonium is never separated from the uranium) can make it much more difficult for terrorists or rogue states to use civilian materials to manufacture weapons."
- Max Schulz. "Nuclear Power Is the Future". Wilson Quarterly. Fall, 2006 - "Critics also cite concerns about the spread of dangerous nuclear waste that can be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. But the latest technology research is geared toward developing systems that resist proliferation. China and Russia are expected to join the United States, France, Canada, Japan, Britain, and other nations later this year in the Generation IV effort, an international consortium explicitly devoted to fostering technologies that limit proliferation risks.
- Meanwhile, South Africa and China are pioneering the development of smaller, “pebble-bed” reactors that operate differently from reactors typically found in the United States. Pebble-bed reactors use uranium-specked graphite balls, rather than rods, for fuel. Conventional fuel rod assemblies must be removed before they are completely used up, but pebble-bed fuel balls burn until they are depleted, lessening the chance for trafficking in dangerous nuclear waste.
- In addition, the Bush administration has proposed a new method for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. Reprocessing traditionally has entailed recycling the remaining uranium from spent fuel rods after removal from a reactor and using it as additional fuel. But the procedure used to separate the uranium for reuse also produces small amounts of weapons-grade plutonium. For that reason, President Jimmy Carter banned the reuse of spent fuel in the United States as a proliferation risk. Today, spent nuclear fuel is stored on-site at nuclear plants, awaiting final disposal upon the completion of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in the Nevada desert.
- The Bush proposal, however, seeks to develop a promising new technology for recycling spent fuel in a manner that renders the material suitable for use as nuclear fuel but not for use in nuclear weapons, thereby eliminating the risk. If successful, this technology could not only help make nuclear energy safer, but could also extend its benefits to the far reaches of the globe.
- The equation skews more decidedly in favor of nuclear power with the introduction of the environment as a factor. Electricity generated by nuclear power plants gives off no emissions: no sulfur, no mercury, and, most important, none of the greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), thought to contribute to climate change."