The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Speaker: Jayita Sarkar, Ernest May Fellow in History & Policy, International Security Program
How do the exports of U.S. power reactors relate to nonproliferation, global capitalism, and U.S. empire? And what does that tell us about the dominance by design of U.S. government and businesses in the decolonized world, where they promised development but delivered debt? This seminar pursues this inquiry through investigating the role of the light water reactor as an instrument of U.S. nonproliferation policy from the mid-1950s until the end of the 1980s.
The recipient countries located in Western Europe in the mid-1950s and in the global South from the 1960s onward began to depend on U.S. companies such as General Electric and Westinghouse for the construction of the reactors, the Export-Import Bank and USAID for loans to finance the cost-intensive reactor projects, and the Atomic Energy Commission (later the Department of Energy) for the low-enriched uranium as reactor fuel. Light water reactor exports thereby permitted U.S. government agencies to control the recipient countries' technological choices in their nuclear programs as well as their economic choices through generating debt and offering debt financing options.
This created "techno-economic dependence" of the recipient countries on U.S. government and corporate actors. Much of the success of light water capitalism in attaining nonproliferation goals depended on U.S. capitalist actors, their global networks and technological flows, on the one hand, and on U.S. government support for the U.S. nuclear industry at home and abroad, on the other.
Everyone is welcome to join us via Zoom! Register before the seminar here: