Nuclear Issues

3807 Items

The infrasound station array at infrasound station IS49, Tristan da Cunha, U.K.

CTBTO/Wikimedia Commons

Journal Article - Arms Control Today

The CTBT at 25 and Beyond

| September 2021

Despite political and legal uncertainty, the CTBTO and its member states have shown remarkable ingenuity in establishing a successful global monitoring network—the International Monitoring System (IMS)—of unprecedented scale and sophistication. The system relies on superb and still unsurpassed technical capabilities for monitoring and verifying the global nuclear test ban. Nevertheless, serious technical and political challenges to the long-term sustainability of the organization and the monitoring system are slowly emerging. Consequently, although this would be undesirable and politically costly, the international community should consider taking steps to decouple the IMS from the treaty’s fate in order to maintain and expand on the extraordinary technical investments that the monitoring system represents.

A member of the Czech Army takes part in an anti-terrorism drill at the Temelin nuclear power plant near the town of Tyn nad Vltavou, Czech Republic, April 11, 2017.

REUTERS/David W. Cerny

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Twenty Years After 9/11, Terrorists Could Still Go Nuclear

| Sep. 16, 2021

The probability of terrorists getting and using a nuclear bomb appears to be low—but the consequences if they did would be so devastating that it is worth beefing up efforts to make sure terrorists never get their hands on a nuclear bomb’s essential ingredients. To see the possibilities, we need to look at motive, capability, and opportunity.

The Grohnde Nuclear Power Plant in Germany.


Journal Article - Issues in Science and Technology

A Viable Nuclear Industry

| Summer 2021

Aditi Verma and Denia Djokić call for rethinking our collective approach to the benefits and risks of nuclear technology—a call that is crucial and timely. As humanity confronts the catastrophic consequences of climate change, questions related to the viability of nuclear energy to achieve a decarbonized world abound. The authors, however, push the boundaries of the current conversation by arguing that what is required to make nuclear energy “viable” for the twenty-first century is much more than just an exercise in technological development.

Doha, Qatar is one of the Persian Gulf cities most at risk from a spent fuel fire at Barakah.

Hossein Ostovar/Wikimedia Commons

Journal Article - Science & Global Security

Risks to Persian Gulf Cities from Spent Fuel Fires at the Barakah and Bushehr Nuclear Power Plants

| Aug. 18, 2021

Interest in nuclear power has grown in some Middle Eastern states despite poor economics, seismic activity, and attacks on nuclear facilities in the region. This article assesses risks from cesium-137 release and dispersal from spent nuclear fuel fires at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates and Bushehr in Iran to public health, the water supply, and the food security of major Persian Gulf cities. Doha, Dammam, Al-Hofuf, and Manama are most at risk of receiving 1.5 MBq/m2 for a spent fuel fire at Barakah, while a spent fuel fire at Bushehr could affect Shiraz, Ahvaz, Basrah, and Kuwait City, albeit at lower probabilities. Absent a decision to end nuclear power in the region, options for reducing the potential risks of spent fuel fires on Persian Gulf populations include the timely transfer of spent fuel from pools into safer dry cask storage, multilateral disaster-response planning, and a commitment not to attack nuclear facilities.

Nuclear operations professionals at Idaho National Laboratory's Advanced Test Reactor routinely refuel the reactor and perform maintenance from the reactor top area.

Idaho National Laboratory via Flickr

Journal Article - Nuclear Technology

The Nuclear, Humanities, and Social Science Nexus: Challenges and Opportunities for Speaking Across the Disciplinary Divides

| Aug. 07, 2021

The central aim of this special issue is to explore how research findings and insights from the humanities and social sciences can be used to shape and meaningfully inform the work of practitioners and policy makers in the nuclear energy sector and its corresponding areas of research and practice—all of which presently, in many ways, simultaneously face several challenges and opportunities and find themselves at a crossroads.

A satellite photo showing heavy snows along the Korean coast, mid-February 2011.

NASA images courtesy MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

Report - Applied History Project

A Policy of Public Diplomacy with North Korea

| August 2021

The Biden administration has emphasized the importance of alliances and core values of democracy in its foreign policy approach. Given this emphasis, public diplomacy—activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign audiences—should be considered an essential tool in achieving our long-term policy objectives in North Korea. Public diplomacy has the potential to spur domestic change in North Korea—change that could result in improved human rights conditions, leading to behavioral change in the Kim regime, and eventually denuclearization.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows an atomic warehouse in Teheran during his address the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 27, 2018.

AP/Richard Drew

Report - Iran Watch

Iran's Atomic Archive: Lessons Learned for Export Controls and Inspections

| August 2021

The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control hosted two roundtables—in September 2019 and March 2021—to identify lessons that should be drawn from the archive of Iranian documents seized by Israel in 2018, related to the effectiveness of export controls, monitoring measures such as international inspections, and other efforts to prevent material and expertise from reaching programs to develop nuclear weapons. Informed by these lessons, the group sought to develop a set of findings and recommendations to support the policymaking and monitoring communities.

Photo of President Joe Biden speaking during a joint news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in the East Room of the White House, Friday, May 21, 2021, in Washington.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

A Grand Bargain With North Korea

| July 29, 2021

Change is underway on the Korean Peninsula. At the Eighth Korean Workers’ Party Congress in January, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un orchestrated a decisive shift in the country’s bedrock economic and military policies. He moved away from his father’s “Military First” principle (Songun), which gave precedence to the Korea People’s Armed Forces, and supplanted it with an ideology of “People and Masses First” (Inmin Daejung Jaeil). This reorganization of North Korea’s system of governance empowers the ruling party at the expense of the KPAF, supporting Kim’s perpetual quest for power consolidation. More important, it sets the stage for efforts to resuscitate North Korea’s dying economy.





Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2017. Commons

Book Chapter - Springer/T.M.C. Asser Press

Backchannel Non-Proliferation: Militarily Non-Aligned States and Nuclear Diplomacy

| July 27, 2021

What roles can small militarily non-aligned States play in nuclear non-proliferation diplomacy with actual or suspected proliferators? And how might international law shape such contributions? Current literature identifying effective approaches to nuclear non-proliferation and rollback is somewhat one-dimensional, emphasising the behaviour of great powers and international organisations. By contrast, this chapter analyses activities militarily non-aligned States may undertake supporting negotiations in accordance with international legal norms and institutions. More specifically, it explores Swedish and Swiss initiatives in the early 2000s, a period of growing tensions over the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programmes. Drawing upon resources including unpublished elite interviews, the chapter offers new insights into theoretical backchannel non-proliferation mechanisms. It complements existing literature on nuclear proliferation by offering a fuller account of diplomatic negotiations. Ongoing crises suggest many future challenges to the non-proliferation regime will emerge, and militarily non-aligned States may hold one of the few keys to facilitating dialogue. International law can both compel these States to act and provide them with influential—but often-overlooked—non-proliferation roles. Indeed, reconsidering dominant narratives about ‘players’ involved in nuclear diplomacy may provide new avenues for policy-making and theorising aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.