Does the development and expansion of nuclear programmes increase the risk of nuclear proliferation?

Answer:   Preventing nuclear proliferation is primarily the responsibility of states but, as major stakeholders, the nuclear industry and scientific community should actively support nuclear disarmament as foreseen in the Non ProliferationTreaty and measures necessary to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. Generating electricity in civil nuclear power plants does not increase directly the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation. The proliferation-sensitive technologies are not electricity generation but uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of irradiated reactor fuel. 

 

 

Background

There are two different proliferation risks: proliferation towards states and proliferation towards non-state actors such as terrorist organizations. The second risk is covered by increased security measures as described in the corresponding chapter.

Preventing nuclear proliferation is primarily the responsibility of states but, as major stakeholders, the nuclear industry and scientific community should actively support nuclear disarmament as foreseen in the Non-Proliferation Treaty and measures necessary to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, particularly the international control of the flux of nuclear material and technology.

If the expected expansion of nuclear electricity production worldwide is to succeed, it must take place under strict safety, security and non-proliferation conditions. Generating electricity in civil nuclear power plants does not increase directly the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation. The proliferation-sensitive technologies are not electricity generation but uranium enrichment and the reprocessing of irradiated reactor fuel.  In generation IV, envisaged new designs take into account the proliferation risk and study closed fuel cycles in which plutonium would not be separated from the minor actinides and then not usable for weapons.

 

Non-Nuclear Weapon States are obliged to subject all nuclear material on their territories to IAEA safeguards and thus international control. The system also includes now mining, milling and conversion facilities as well as nuclear wastes repositories. They also have a verified system of accounting nuclear fissile materials in the whole country. IAEA safeguards regime has been upgraded in the mid-90ties to allow the IAEA to deal with new challenges and to use new technological and information developments.