CREATORAlger, Justin
TITLEFrom Nuclear Energy to the Bomb: The Proliferation Potential of New Nuclear Energy Programs
DATE PUBLISHED28 September 2009
DATE ACCESSED11 September 2017

This 2009 study explores the connection between peaceful nuclear energy programs and nuclear weapons proliferation and asserts that while an energy program provides a state with much of the technology, scientific expertise, and infrastructure needed to obtain fissile material, it does not necessarily provide the ability to design a nuclear weapon. The paper first examines what can be learned from “once-through” nuclear programs, programs which use uranium only once in the reactor, thereby eliminating the reprocessing that is necessary for nuclear weapons. Next, it specifies the particular enrichment or reprocessing technology that can increase a state’s ability to build a nuclear weapon; and finally, it outlines what is necessary for a state to make the transition from peaceful nuclear energy production to building a nuclear weapon. The paper concludes that there is no concrete way to account for all of the connections between a peaceful nuclear agenda and one for weapons production; thus, since some benefits from an energy program can be used to develop weapons, the need for enforcement of compliance with atomic treaties is vital. The article contains a table of scientific disciplines relevant to peaceful and weapons-related nuclear programs, as well as a list of items considered “dual-use” by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a multi-national body concerned with safeguarding nuclear materials. The article is a part of the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s (CIGI) Nuclear Energy Futures Project.

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