Australian news, and some related international items

“In Denial” – the so-called environmentalists who promote nuclear power.

Pro-nuclear environmentalists’ in denial about power/weapons connections, Energy Post  by Jim Green 

Claims by self-styled ‘pro-nuclear environmentalists’ that “nuclear energy prevents the spread of nuclear weapons” and “peace is furthered when a nation embraces nuclear power” do not withstand scrutiny, writes Jim Green, editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter. Green looks at the conclusions of some studies which, he says, downplay the troubling connections between nuclear power and weapons. Courtesy Nuclear Monitor.

As discussed previously in Energy Post, nuclear industry bodies (such as the US Nuclear Energy Institute) and supporters (such as former US energy secretary Ernest Moniz) are openly acknowledging the connections between nuclear power and weapons ‒ connections they have denied for decades. Those connections are evident in most of the weapons states, in numerous countries that have pursued but not built weapons, and in potential future weapons states such as Saudi Arabia.

Ideally, acknowledgement of power/weapons connections would lead to redoubled efforts to build a firewall between civilian and military nuclear programs ‒ strengthened safeguards, curbs on enrichment and reprocessing, and so on.

But that’s not how this debate in playing out. Industry insiders and supporters drawing attention to the connections are quite comfortable about them ‒ they just want increased subsidies and support for their ailing civilian nuclear industries and argue that ‘national security’ and ‘national defense’ will be undermined if that support is not forthcoming.

Some continue to deny the power/weapons connections even though the connections are plain for all to see and are now being acknowledged by a growing number of nuclear insiders and supporters. The most prominent of these are self-styled ‘pro-nuclear environmentalists’.

One such person is Ben Heard from the Australian pro-nuclear lobby group ‘Bright New World‘. Heard claims that nuclear power promotes peace and uses the two Koreas to illustrate his argument: “The South is a user and exporter of nuclear power, signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, and possesses zero nuclear warheads. The North has zero nuclear power reactors, is not a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, and is developing and testing nuclear weapons.”

Likewise, Michael Shellenberger, founder of the U.S. pro-nuclear lobby group ‘Environmental Progress’, claims that: “One of [Friends of the Earth]-Greenpeace’s biggest lies about nuclear energy is that it leads to weapons. Korea demonstrates that the opposite is true: North Korea has a nuclear bomb and no nuclear energy, while South Korea has nuclear energy and no bomb.”

Heard and Shellenberger ignore the fact that North Korea uses what is calls an ‘experimental power reactor’ (based on the UK Magnox power reactor design) to produce plutonium for weapons. They ignore the fact that North Korea acquired enrichment technology from Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan network, who stole the blueprints from URENCO, the consortium that provides enrichment services for the nuclear power industry. They ignore the fact that North Korea’s reprocessing plant is based on the design of the Eurochemic plant in Belgium, which provided reprocessing services for the nuclear power industry.

Heard and Shellenberger also ignore South Korea’s history of covertly pursuing nuclear weapons, a history entwined with the country’s development of nuclear power. For example, the nuclear power program provided (and still provides) a rationale for South Korea’s pursuit of reprocessing technology.

Nicholas Miller’s article in International Security

Echoing Shellenberger’s claim that “nuclear energy prevents the spread of nuclear weapons”, Heard writes: “Peace is furthered when a nation embraces nuclear power, because it makes that nation empirically less likely to embark on a nuclear weapons program. That is the finding of a 2017 study published in the peer-reviewed journal International Security.” However, the claim isn’t true, and it isn’t supported by the International Security journal article, written by Nicholas Miller from Dartmouth College.

“The annual probability of starting a weapons program is more than twice as high in countries with nuclear energy programs, if one defines an energy program as having an operating power reactor or one under construction” ………..

All the logistic regression models in the world don’t alter the fact that nuclear power/weapons connections are multifaceted, repeatedly demonstrated, disturbing and dangerous:

  • Nuclear power programs were involved in the successful pursuit of weapons in four countries (France, India, Pakistan, South Africa) according to Miller (and India and North Korea could be added to that list) and have provided many other countries with a latent weapons capability.
  • Power programs have provided ongoing support for weapons programs to a greater or lesser degree in seven of the nine current weapons states (the exceptions being Israel and North Korea).
  • The direct use of power reactors to produce plutonium for weapons in all or all-but-one of the declared weapons states (and possibly other countries, e.g. India and Pakistan).
  • The use of power reactors to produce tritium for weapons in the US (and possibly other countries, e.g. India).
  • Power programs (or real or feigned interest in nuclear power) legitimising enrichment and reprocessing programs that have fed proliferation.
  • Power programs (or real or feigned interest in nuclear power) legitimising research (reactor) programs which can lead (and have led) to weapons proliferation.
  • And last but not least, the training of experts for nuclear power programs whose expertise can be (and has been) used in weapons programs……..

March 6, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, General News, spinbuster

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