Nuclear Issues

612 Items

The main hall for the IAEA’s Talks on Supplying Nuclear Fuel for Iranian Research Reactor, Vienna, Austria, 19 October 2009. 

Dean Calma/IAEA

Paper

The Deal That Got Away: The 2009 Nuclear Fuel Swap with Iran

| January 2021

With concerns and uncertainties regarding Iran’s nuclear future persisting to this day, this paper seeks to review the TRR negotiations and the context in which they unfolded in order to capture some of the lessons of negotiating with Iran regarding its nuclear program, primarily from the viewpoint of senior U.S. officials involved at the time. The paper is also informed by the personal perspective of one of the authors (Poneman) who led the U.S. delegation in the 2009 Vienna talks, and who, prior to this publication, had not publicly elaborated on his experience. The other author (Nowrouzzadeh), who supported the TRR talks in an analytical capacity within the U.S. Department of Defense, also conducted an extensive interview with Poneman as part of their collaboration on this paper. By drawing on existing literature and recent interviews with several senior U.S. officials involved in the negotiations now that over ten years have passed, the authors seek to draw useful lessons from this episode that can assist policymakers in understanding Iran’s nuclear decision-making and in their continued efforts to shape the future trajectory of Iran’s nuclear program.

Then-Defense Secretary James N. Mattis meets with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Pentagon on March 22, 2018.

Department of Defense/Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kathryn E. Holm

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Program: Separating Real Concerns from Threat Inflation

| Oct. 08, 2020

In the highly charged political atmosphere surrounding nuclear initiatives in the Middle East, legitimate concerns are sometimes blown out of proportion, with potentially problematic results. This has been the case with recent coverage and commentary on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear activities, which have been characterized by a degree of what can be described as “threat inflation.”

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Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Center Experts Reflect on 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima Bombing

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, launching the nuclear age. On the 75th anniversary of that somber event, Belfer Center experts reflect on the event and its aftermath. 

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Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File

Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

'What About China?' and the Threat to US–Russian Nuclear Arms Control

| 2020

The administration of President Donald J. Trump has consistently used fear of China to undermine nearly five decades of bipartisan consensus on US–Russian nuclear arms control. The negative consequences of these actions may last far beyond the Trump presidency. If generations of agreement between Democrats and Republicans on bilateral nuclear treaties with Russia erode, it will pose a significant setback to US national security and global stability. Future leaders may ultimately need to consider new approaches to nuclear risk reduction that preserve the benefits of the arms control regime.

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Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

China is speeding up its plutonium recycling programs

| July 20, 2020

Since 1983, China has had the objective of developing breeder reactors to run on recycled plutonium. Since 2004, it has been progressing through three stages of its plutonium recycling strategy: from pilot to demonstration to commercial facilities. At the first stage, in 2010, China began testing a pilot civilian reprocessing plant and running a small experimental fast reactor. Although those pilot facilities did not perform well, since 2015 China has moved forward to the second stage, which includes a demonstration reprocessing plant, a mixed-oxide fuel facility, and two demonstration liquid-sodium-cooled fast-neutron reactors. Recent satellite images and other information show construction of those demonstration facilities is actively underway. Meanwhile, the China National Nuclear Corporation is pushing toward the third stage by negotiating with France’s nuclear fuel cycle company Orano (formerly Areva) over the purchase of a large commercial reprocessing plant, and has proposed construction of large commercial fast-neutron reactors by 2028.

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Paper - Nonproliferation Policy Education Center

China’s Uranium Enrichment and Plutonium Recycling 2020-2040: Current Practices and Projected Capacities

| July 16, 2020

Since 2010, China has significantly expanded its indigenous enrichment capacity to meet the expected rapid increase of enrichment requirements. Meanwhile, China has expanded its plutonium reprocessing and recycling capabilities for “saving uranium.” The purpose of this report is to provide a better understanding of the development of China’s uranium enrichment and plutonium recycling programs.

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Paper - Institute for Nuclear Materials Management

Assessing China's Plutonium Separation and Recycling Programs

| July 2020

China pursues actively its closed fuel-cycle policy. In 2010, it began testing a pilot civilian reprocessing plant (50 tHM/year). In 2015, China began construction of the demonstration reprocessing plant (200 tHM/year). China has also been negotiating with France over the purchase of a commercial reprocessing plant with a capacity of 800 tHM/year. China’s Experimental Fast Reactor (20 MWe) started operation in 2010. Construction of the CFR-600 demonstration fast reactor began in 2017. This work will assess those plutonium separation and recycling programs. Further, it will estimate their cumulative plutonium production and discuss the potential uses of separated plutonium in China’s fast reactors over next two decades.

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Paper - Institute of Nuclear Materials Management

The Development Status of China's Uranium Enrichment

| July 2020

China leads the world in term of nuclear power development pace and new reactor construction. To meet the expected rapid increase of enrichment requirements, since 2010 the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has expanded significantly its indigenous centrifuge enrichment capacity. However, China does not officially release information on its enrichment capacity. Based on satellite imagery, Chinese publications, and discussions with Chinese experts, this work will examine the current status of China's uranium-enrichment development and offer significant new estimates of the capacity of China's operating enrichment facilities.

Chinese DF-5B intercontinental ballistic missiles

Voice of America/Wikimedia Commons

Book Chapter - Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

China's Nuclear Force Modernization

| June 2020

Since 2015 China has shown it is quickly modernising its nuclear force through adding more and “better” intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs).Based on Chinese publications and Western governmental and non-governmental estimates, this author estimates that in 2020 China has a total inventory of approximately 360±50 nuclear warheads. This stockpile is likely to grow further over the next decade as additional nuclear capable missiles become operational. In particular, China nuclear force modernization has been driven mainly by expansion in US missile defence programmes as many Chinese believe. China’s arsenal may be somewhat larger than France’s but is much smaller than the US and Russia.