Nuclear Issues

164 Items

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant sarcophagus (Petr Pavlicek/IAEA via Wikimedia).

Petr Pavlicek/IAEA via Wikimedia

Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

Chernobyl’s Effects Go Far Beyond What You’re Seeing on HBO. It Shook Up Geopolitics for Years.

| July 15, 2019

Chernobyl’s effects went well beyond radiation, rippling through the social and political fabric of a deteriorating society. Chernobyl helped to bring down the Soviet Union and constrained independent Ukraine’s nuclear options. It still reverberates today on the front lines of the war in eastern Ukraine and in Moscow’s denials that it is involved in undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Monument for victims of Chernobyl in front of covef

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

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

Thirty-three Years Since the Catastrophe at Chernobyl: A Universal Lesson for the Global Nuclear Power Industry

| Apr. 25, 2019

The world will soberly commemorate the 33rd anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant catastrophic accident on Friday, April 26, 2019.  Some may wonder why bother with a gone-by historical event that happened in a distant land — a country that no longer exists — the former Soviet Union (now Ukraine).  On the contrary, Chernobyl and its legacy, with its specters of lingering human toll, radiation contamination, and the massive new shelter ("New Safe Confinement") installed over the old sarcophagus encasing the reactor, will be with us for a long time.

Three Mile Island nuclear power plant

cdc.gov/phil

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

How to Deal with Increasingly Complex Safety-Critical Technologies

| Mar. 28, 2019

The authors analyze the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident and the recent back-to-back crashes of two Boeing 737 Max jets and make policy recommendations for the regulation of increasingly complex technologies.

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in India, built in collaboration with Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom (Flickr/India Water Portal).

Flickr/India Water Portal

Journal Article - Sustainability

Nonproliferation and Security Implications of the Evolving Civil Nuclear Export Market

| Mar. 27, 2019

In recent decades, the nuclear export market has observed a marked shift of demand from traditional customers in the Western world to Asia. The lack of projects in the United States, the delay in the French construction of advanced reactors, and the Fukushima accident in Japan have also led to the declining export capabilities of their companies. In contrast, Russia has gained numerous contracts, and China will likely become another major exporter. In this paper, the evolution of the market was examined from both the supply and demand sides with issues including the more concentrated and uncertain market, the lack of full participation by emerging suppliers to the nonproliferation regime, and the lesser governance capabilities of the newcomers. Addressing these issues, a range of policy suggestions was made, including the reinforcement of market shares of Western suppliers, the encouragement of newcomers to adhere to international norms, and a better safeguards contribution scheme.

Book Chapter - Routledge

Nuclear Disarmament, Nuclear Energy, and Climate Change

| March 2019

Preventing nuclear war and avoiding catastrophic climate change are two of the most basic challenges facing human civilization in the twenty-first century. While these are separate issues, these challenges are linked in several ways, and both may be affected by the future of nuclear energy. For nuclear energy to provide any substantial part of the low-carbon energy needed in the second half of the twenty-first century would require dramatic growth. This chapter provides an overview of the constraints and risks of nuclear energy growth on that scale, and the necessary steps to address them. In particular, use of nuclear energy at that scale would place unprecedented demands on global systems for verification, control, and security for weapons-usable nuclear materials. Deep reductions in nuclear arms and their eventual prohibition will also require new approaches to managing the vast global stocks of weapons-usable nuclear materials. Politically, nuclear energy may not be able to grow on the scale required unless governments and publics are confident that it will not contribute to the spread of nuclear weapons, creating another link between climate mitigation and nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Republic of Korea via Flickr

Journal Article - Georgetown Journal of Asian Affairs

An Analysis of Moon Jae-in's Nuclear Phase-out Policy

| Winter 2019

Although South Korea adopted nuclear energy later than countries like the United States, Russia, or France, the country, until recently, has been considered to have one of the most successful civil nuclear power programs in the world, with a fully-devel- oped supply chain, a remarkable record in constructing and operating nuclear power plants (NPPs), and the ability to compete and win contracts to supply NPPs abroad. The fortune of South Korea’s nuclear program has seemingly come to an end, however, with the election of Moon Jae-in. The new South Korean President promised to reduce the country’s dependence on nuclear energy, and has, since taking office, implemented measures to phase out this type of electricity generation.

In this paper, following a brief history of the development of nuclear energy in South Korea, the root causes that instilled public distrust of nuclear energy and Moon Jae-in’s phase-out policy are discussed. Subsequently, by analyzing the validity of Moon’s plan, I argue that this phase-out policy is not beneficial for the long-term sustainability of South Korea’s economy in general, and of the Korean nuclear industry in particular. The paper concludes with policy recommendations for a more balanced nuclear policy that can accommodate public opinion and, at the same time, ensure energy security and provide other economic and diplomatic benefits.

Visitors look at the models of oil tanker shaped floating nuclear reactors and oil rigs showcased at the display booth of China's state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation during the China International Exhibition on Nuclear Power Industry in Beijing. April 27, 2017 (Andy Wong/Associated Press).

Andy Wong/Associated Press

Journal Article - Maritime Issues

China's Planned Floating Nuclear Power Facilities in South China Sea: Technical and Political Challenges

| Nov. 21, 2018

The operation of the fleet of Chinese floating nuclear power plants in the South China Sea carries with it numerous safety and security risks that may have widespread consequences to not only China but also to Southeast Asia and beyond.

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Analysis & Opinions - The Nautilus Institute

China's Nuclear Spent Fuel Management and Nuclear Security Issues

| Nov. 10, 2017

In this essay, Hui Zhang reviews the status of spent fuel storage in China.  He suggest that China should take steps to improve physical protection, reduce insider threats, promote a nuclear security culture, and improve nuclear cyber security. He also recommends China, South Korea, and Japans’ nuclear security training centers should cooperate and exchange best practices on insider threat reduction, contingency plans for emergency response, and discuss regional cooperation for long-term spent fuel storage, including building a regional center of spent fuel storage.

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Has South Korea Renounced "Nuclear Hedging"?

| June 27, 2017

"While it remains to be seen how the Moon administration's nuclear energy and security policies will materialize, it is too early to conclude that Seoul is renouncing the option of nuclear hedging. Uncertainty over the US commitment to security alliances under President Trump, combined with the election of a South Korean president who is promoting more independent national security, makes it unlikely that South Korea is abandoning the hedging option altogether."