Before the Fukushima nuclear disaster, China had a relatively small fleet of 14 nuclear reactor units with a relatively small capacity — less than 12 gigawatts of electricity — but the country had big nuclear plans. It led the world in new reactor construction, with 27 units under way, five units approved and awaiting construction, and another 16 units scheduled. If all current construction went forward as planned, the country would be ensured of reaching its original target of 40 gigawatts of nuclear-generated electric capacity by 2020.
Month: June 2012
A reflection on:Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement Lawrence Wittner 272 pages, $21.95In 2011, people across the planet reached out to Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami. Millions watched as one nation after another rose in mass revolutions across the Arab world. The Occupy movement blossomed, as citizens in cities around the globe expressed rage over the excesses of capitalism and corporate power. And Time magazine named "The Protester" its annual Person of the Year.
The most dangerous moment of the nuclear age — and likely any age — unfolded 50 years ago as the world waited and trembled. For 13 harrowing days, the leaders of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba brought the planet within a hair’s breadth of nuclear catastrophe. Despite the seemingly halcyon stability of deterrence throughout the Cold War, there were numerous moments during the Cuban Missile Crisis that could have escalated into full-blown nuclear war.
In The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss, the Yooks and the Zooks go to war over whether bread should be eaten with the buttered side up or down. The battle escalates from slingshots to guns to goo-spewing war machines, and eventually both the Yooks and the Zooks acquire a tiny but extremely destructive bomb called the Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo. Neither side has any defense against the bomb, and both sides are left wondering who will drop it first.
In the nineteenth century, research in the natural and life sciences was largely self-supported. Charles Darwin had the good fortune of being born into a wealthy family, enabling him to pursue his passions as a gentleman naturalist and to develop the trailblazing theory of evolution. Darwin’s good fortune ended up being science’s as well.
With confirmation that the United States was behind the 2010 cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facility, the world has officially entered a new era of warfare. The New York Times’ comprehensive reporting details how the US and Israeli governments developed the malicious Stuxnet software and how they deployed it in the digital wilderness of the Internet specifically to attack the plant at Natanz.
In the past two decades, at least two terrorist groups have made serious attempts at obtaining nuclear weapons or the nuclear material needed to make them. They won’t be the last. Foiling terrorists willing to inflict unlimited damage requires the international community to prioritize the nuclear stocks that pose the greatest risks and take immediate steps to eliminate or secure them.
When survivors of the 2002 theater siege in Moscow — in which Russian police used a gas widely believed to be a fentanyl derivative to flush out terrorists — brought claims before the European Court of Human Rights, the ruling came down with mixed results.
In 2010, soon after determining that Yucca Mountain should no longer be developed as the United States’ nuclear waste repository, the Obama administration chartered a commission to develop a strategy for managing the country’s spent nuclear fuel and military high-level radioactive waste. On January 26, 2012, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) submitted its final report to the US Energy Secretary.
In 1945, the United States organized a committee to investigate whether nuclear weapons should become a central military technology, or whether to abjure the weapons and, through self-restraint, avoid a costly and potentially deadly nuclear arms race. Led by Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson and Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority David Lilienthal, the committee produced the eponymous Acheson-Lilienthal Report, which, after it failed to gather reasonable support, marked a turning point in the Cold War and signaled the beginning of the nuclear arms race.
Judging by the intensity of Russia’s constant opposition to US missile defenses in Europe, one might think that the very survival of the nation is in danger. In reality, though, the opposite is true: The battle over missile defense is so fierce because the stakes are so low. In terms of an actual impact on Russia’s security, US defense is largely irrelevant.