Month: May 2008

Don’t block U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation

Don’t block U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation

Two weeks ago, the United States and Russia signed an agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation, commonly known as a “123 agreement.” It was immediately attacked from all sides. Some members of Congress urged the Bush administration not to submit the document to Congress and threatened to block it once they did. Meanwhile, nuclear skeptics in Russia raised concerns that the agreement could revitalize the idea of importing foreign spent nuclear fuel into Russia or strengthen the U.S.-led Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. For their part, U.S.

Nuclear waste repository case studies: The Netherlands

Nuclear waste repository case studies: The Netherlands

All Dutch radioactive waste is (or has been) produced at essentially four locations–a nuclear power plant in Borssele, a nuclear power plant in Dodewaard, a research reactor in Delft, and a research reactor in Petten. Currently, it's centrally stored at an aboveground facility of the Central Organization for Radioactive Waste (COVRA), which is situated next to the Borssele reactor on the country's Zuid-Beveland peninsula and flanks the Westerschelde estuary.1

The challenges of developing synthetic pathogens

The challenges of developing synthetic pathogens

The announcement in January 2008 that a team of researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute had constructed the first complete bacterial genome, and that they intend to create a viable bacterium from it, has spotlighted the power of gene synthesis technology. As the ability to design, construct, and biologically activate long strands of genomic material improves, the benefits in terms of research in medicine, energy, materials, and other applications will grow. However, so could concerns that the technology might lead to accidental or deliberate harm.

The new nuclear abolitionists

The new nuclear abolitionists

Twenty-five years ago, the Nuclear Freeze campaign mobilized hundreds of thousands of Americans to demand an end to the testing, production, and deployment of new nuclear weapons. At that time, advocating the complete abolition of nuclear weapons was a fringe position confined to a few utopians on the left. Even most antinuclear activists struggled getting past the “you can’t put the genie back in the bottle” common sense of pundits and arms control experts.

The IAEA’s dilemma with Syria’s Al Kibar nuclear site

The IAEA’s dilemma with Syria’s Al Kibar nuclear site

Although Israel’s September 2007 raid on what it believed to be the Al Kibar nuclear site in Syria has often been compared to its 1981 raid on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq, the aura of secrecy surrounding the Syria raid stands in stark contrast to the extensive public explanations offered by Israel 27 years ago. Further details about the Syria raid have recently been provided, but they didn’t come from Israel. Instead, senior U.S. intelligence officials presented them to Congress and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in late April–nearly eight months after the raid.

Getting U.S. foreign assistance right

Getting U.S. foreign assistance right

The United States badly needs to get its act together in promoting its national interests and national security objectives. And it badly needs to “rebalance” its statecraft toolkit, so U.S. civilian tools can perform their missions. Currently, too much of the domestic dialogue about our role in the world has focused on near-term security problems–namely, defeating Al Qaeda and stabilizing and reconstructing Iraq and Afghanistan.