The Doomsday Clock is an internationally recognized design that conveys how close we are to destroying our civilization with dangerous technologies of our own making. First and foremost among these are nuclear weapons, but the dangers include climate-changing technologies, emerging... Read More
As the world looks on with trepidation at the growing crisis between Ukraine and Russia, does anyone think that the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States could play a constructive role? Of course not.
The author first emphasizes that chemical weapons are a human rights issue above all, then argues that though a chemical-weapon-free zone would improve security in the Middle East, neither Israel nor Egypt is likely to perceive much benefit in establishing a zone.
The author argues that making meaningful changes to the structure and mission of the IAEA would be, partly for historical reasons, very difficult; and that, barring general disarmament, nuclear weapons are probably in South Asia to stay.
Dealing with thuggish dictators reluctant to relinquish their stockpiles of highly enriched uranium (HEU) is a necessary component in the global effort to secure vulnerable fissile materials by 2013. Unfortunately, nuclear deals are often tentative and prone to collapse if a dictator's whims change. The successful nuclear deal with Libya and the stalled deal with Belarus are indicative of this dynamic, but it should not stop the United States and other nations from seeking deals to secure fissile materials that might otherwise be exploited by would-be nuclear terrorists.
It appears that the managers of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, taken by surprise, did not know exactly what to do after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the plant on March 11. Experts in the United States, thousands of miles away, had a duty to provide timely, helpful advice. Both the press and US officials failed. In particular, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's recommendation to stay at least 50 miles away from Fukushima was inappropriate and may have caused unnecessary panic.
Radiation can't seem to stay out of the news. We worry about people over-exposed to CT scans, and people getting medically unnecessary x-rays. We worry about dirty bombs. Some even worry about whole-body airport scanners.
As the situation at Fukushima is becoming less unpredictable, though not yet completely stabilized, and there is more information available, I will stop my daily writings on the nuclear power plant. Thank you very much for your encouragement and warm support.
Although a catastrophic failure of emergency backup systems at a US nuclear reactor may be unlikely, solid planning and preparations are in order -- and should begin with determining whether an emergency zone extends 10 or 20 miles from a nuclear power plant.
As Japan struggles to contain the crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, government officials in other nations are nervously assessing their own emergency-response policies and procedures for a nuclear reactor accident. If any country is prepared to handle the worst that nature can present, it's Japan, where strict building codes and evacuation drills saved many lives from the March 11 disaster. But even Japan was not ready for a colossal 9.0 earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the international community anxiously watched to see what newly independent Kazakhstan would do with the thousands of nuclear weapons left on its territory. If Kazakhstan had decided to prevent their withdrawal, it would have become the fourth largest nuclear power in the world. Thankfully, the country decided to disarm--a choice it reached due to a combination of international pressure, a desire to integrate into the international community, and assured Western assistance with dismantling its nuclear weapons and facilities.