Safeguarding nuclear material: The way forward
There is no way that you can prevent people learning how to build a nuclear power plant
World Economic Forum – Future Global Agenda series
You cannot stop the transmission of knowledge. There is no way that you can prevent people learning how to build a nuclear power plant, how to enrich uranium, or even how to make a bomb. If every nation is to have the right to use nuclear energy, there must be disciplined behavior in its use, both in terms of safeguarding the environment and resisting the temptation to use it as a weapon. Beyond that, the greater challenge is to apply this discipline in a world that is increasingly unstable.
The key to ensuring this is to control and manage the materials that serve as nuclear fuel, such as uranium-235 and plutonium-239. We must reach a global consensus on how to manage these substances: it could be that a multinational company is empowered to control most of the nuclear fuel worldwide, which it then leases to each country, and when the fuel is spent, it is safely returned. This last stage is crucial, as some spent materials can be used for the production of nuclear arms.
In theory, such an arrangement is workable, but it’s up to the politicians to decide if we can reach that kind of agreement. To get to the negotiation table, we must first stabilize Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa; only then can we begin the necessary process of diplomacy and understanding. Because it goes without saying that this cannot be achieved without cooperation and consensus between the world’s superpowers.
This article features in the World Economic Forum’s Outlook on the Global Agenda 2015, published Nov. 7
Armen Sarkissian is the President and Founder of Eurasia House International, and a Member of the Global Agenda Council on Risk and Resilience.
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