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Posts tagged ‘nuclear’

Securing China’s Nuclear Energy Development

Hui Zhang

Hui Zhang

By Hui Zhang

Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Chinese president Xi Jinping said in his address at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit that, “we should place equal emphasis on development [of nuclear energy] and security, and develop nuclear energy on the premise of security.” He further emphasized that,developing nuclear energy at the expense of security can neither be sustainable nor bring real development. Only by adopting credible steps and safeguards can we keep the risks under effective control and develop nuclear energy in a sustainable way.”

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China’s nuclear policy: changing or not?

Hui Zhang

Hui Zhang

By Hui Zhang

Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The new defense white paper released by China on April 16 has sparked a debate over whether China is changing its nuclear policy, because this new paper, unlike previous editions, did not reiterate China’s long-standing no-first-use nuclear weapons doctrine. Is China changing its nuclear policy?

Colonel Yang Yujun, a spokesman of China’s Ministry of Defense, answered this question unambiguously during a briefing on April 25. Yang stated that “China repeatedly reaffirms that China has always pursued no-first-use nuclear weapons policy, upholds its nuclear strategy of self-defense, and never takes part in any form of nuclear arms race with any country. The policy has never been changed. The concern about changes of China’s nuclear policy is unnecessary.”

Colonel Yang further explained that this new white paper elaborates clearly the readiness level of the PLA Second Artillery Force (PLASAF) in peacetime and the conditions under which China would launch a resolute counterattack –if China comes under a nuclear attack. All these details, as Yang stated in the briefing, show exactly that “China is earnestly fulfilling its no-fist-use nuclear pledge.” Read more

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How transparent is Iran’s nuclear transparency?

Olli J. Heinonen

Olli J. Heinonen

By Olli J. Heinonen

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Every September, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors holds one of its four major annual Board meetings.  At each Board session, the item on Safeguards in Iran is on the agenda. The IAEA Board has just opened this week.

It has also become usual practice that prior to Board meetings, Iran attempts some gesture to show its willingness to cooperate – a gesture that on many past occasions had, sadly, been of form rather than substance. In August, Iran invited IAEA inspectors to visit some of its nuclear sites. Iranian officials have hailed this step as a badge of transparency in view of that fact that IAEA inspectors had in recent years  been barred (by Iran) from accessing two of the said sites. Read more

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Nuclear Security Concerns Linger in Libya

By Olli J. Heinonen

By Olli Heinonen

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

In December 2003, Muammar Ghaddafi renounced his weapons of mass destruction program, and agreed to dismantle them in a verifiable manner. This proceeded relatively swiftly. Libya’s uranium enrichment program was taken apart, and sensitive materials and documentation ranging from nuclear weapons design information to gas ultracentrifuge components were confiscated.

Libya’s highly enriched uranium, which was used to fuel its Tajoura research reactor, took longer to remove. But after several stand-offs, the last consignment of spent fuel was flown out of Libya in December 2009. That was all good news. Read more

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North Korea Leads UN Conference on Disarmament: Non sequitur

William H. Tobey

By William H. Tobey

Res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself, a doctrine of common law on negligence, and a fair response to North Korea temporarily assuming the presidency of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

A nation led by a brutal and dynastic dictator, who enslaves, impoverishes, and starves his people, which has cheated on or broken off every important arms control agreement it has committed to, which ships dangerous nuclear and ballistic missile technology to reckless regimes in unstable parts of the world, now leads the United Nations Conference on Disarmament.  Pyongyang obviously feels no shame, but ears should redden in all other capitals committed to international peace and security for allowing this to happen.  Res ipsa loquitur–negligence indeed.

William H. Tobey is a senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. Prior to his appointment at the Center, he was Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration where he managed the U.S. government’s largest program to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism.

 

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Pakistan can chart a new nuclear future

Olli Heinonen

Olli Heinonen

The Power & Policy Fellows Forum

By Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Osama bin Laden’s death is a victory as well as vindication over the terror and pain that his actions had spawned over the years. Al Qaeda has been dealt a significant blow. People of all walks of life, age and creed will remember  this moment of justice rendered.

At the same time, finding that bin Laden had been hiding in the heartland of Pakistan and living in a fortified house within the vicinity of a prime Pakistani military academy raises serious questions. This comes after a long list of other security concerns that have befallen the country, including high-level assassinations, terrorist acts, and nuclear proliferation activities.  It also revives uncertainties on the extent to which the government is in full and effective control  the country. Such lingering concerns are neither good for Pakistan nor for the region. With the immense challenges and complexities facing Pakistan, its leadership and stability are both vitally important. Read more

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Nuclear Security Summit: One year on, and looking ahead

We asked nuclear policy experts in Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs to summarize in one paragraph the achievements in the year since President Obama convened a summit on nuclear security on April 12-13, 2010. And we asked for a second paragraph on what needs to be done in the year before the follow-up summit planned for Seoul, South Korea.

Here are their replies:

Graham Allison

Graham Allison

Graham Allison
Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

 

Since last April’s historic Global Nuclear Security Summit, there have been a series of positive steps towards preventing what President Obama called the “single biggest threat to U.S. security, short-term, medium-term, and long-term”: nuclear terrorism.  From the elimination of more than half of Ukraine’s highly enriched uranium (HEU) stockpile to the safeguarding of more than 800 bombs’ worth of fissile material in Kazakhstan, states have made significant down payments on the president’s objective to secure the world’s most vulnerable fissile material by 2014. While these achievements should be celebrated, this is no time for a victory lap.  We have only reached the end of the first quarter in a race against time to ensure the world’s most dangerous materials do not fall in the deadliest hands. Read more

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Some perspective on the Japan nuclear plant crisis

By William H. Tobey

By William H. Tobey

The Power & Policy Fellows’ Forum

By William H. Tobey

(Before he became a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Will Tobey was Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration. Last week, he was asked by an ABC News editor to share some perspective on the Japan nuclear reactor situation. Here are his observations).

Here is what I have told family and friends:

There are no absolutely safe options; all forms of reliable energy generation carry risk to human life and health.  In the United States alone last year 48 Americans were killed in coal mining accidents and 11 were killed on the Deep Water Horizon Offshore rig.  Many more died earlier than otherwise because of the health effects of fossil fuel pollution. Read more

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The Global Future of Nuclear Power after Fukushima

A satellite image of Japan showing damage after an earthquake and tsunami at the Dai Ichi Power Plant in Fukushima, taken just three minutes after an explosion. (DigitalGlobe Photo)

A satellite image of Japan showing damage after an earthquake and tsunami at the Dai Ichi Power Plant in Fukushima, taken just three minutes after an explosion. (DigitalGlobe Photo)

The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan is sending shockwaves through nuclear planning agencies around the world.   Policy makers are asking for reviews of safety regulations, publics are expressing concern, and it appears likely that some of the planned construction will be curtailed.   The politics of nuclear power is likely to be more contentious even in places where public support has been strong (or irrelevant).  As a result, in the coming decade, nuclear power may make less of a contribution to the mitigation of carbon emissions than it otherwise might have, (though even before the current crisis its role in overcoming the climate change challenge was a minor one).  Below are thumbnail sketches of how the discussion of nuclear energy is unfolding in key countries where plans for growth are most significant.

Martin Malin, Executive Director, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School


China

Yun Zhou

Yun Zhou

Analysis by Yun Zhou, Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow

The Fukushima tragedy really gave the Chinese a serious wake up call on the importance of nuclear safety. Currently, China has 13 reactor units in operation and 28 units under construction. Although the Chinese government quickly claimed China would not change its plan for developing nuclear power projects right after the Fukushima crisis began on 12th March, the latest news shows the Chinese government taking actions to strengthen its nuclear safety at reactors in operation and under construction. On 16 March, China decided to conduct a comprehensive safety inspection for every nuclear facility. In the meantime, China will update current nuclear safety regulations and guidelines based on the lessons learned in Fukushima accidents.  Nuclear projects which do not comply with the new safety regulation and requirements will be suspended or terminated. In addition, China will adjust “its medium and long nuclear energy development plan” and stop approving new nuclear power projects before the updated nuclear safety regulation and guideline are released. Read more

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An experimental nuclear and particle physicist’s assessment of the Japan reactor situation

By Richard Wilson

By Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson is Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Harvard University. He has been an affiliate of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the author or coauthor of 910  published articles and papers. His research has focused on the structure of nuclei and elementary particles; nucleon scattering and the scattering of leptons by nucleons; and electron-positron colliding beams. He has also conducted extensive research on risk and risk-benefit analysis. He chaired a committee for the governor of Massachusetts on the effects of Three Mile Island, he has visited Chernobyl many times, including the inside of the reactor building, and received awards for that work.

(Professor Richard Wilson’s notes were written at 3 pm EDT Monday March 14, and updated Tuesday March 15 at noon.)

I think that it might be appropriate to give you a quick rundown of the situation on nuclear reactors in Japan and how that problem compares to Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

Firstly in a reactor accident there are two steps. If anyone gets a radiation dose (effective whole body) of 300 Rems (3Sv) or more within a short time period, it leads to ACUTE RADIATION SICKNESS and the body fails within a week or two. At Chernobyl about 200 plant workers and firemen got this much and officially 31 died (my belief is 60 or so died because no one counted the army). But no one in the general public got acute radiation sickness. Read more

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