AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Nonproliferation and the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
Address before the Orange County World Affairs Council in Santa Ana, California, on May 20, 1987. Ambassador Negroponte is Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
Just a few weeks ago the world marked the first anniversary of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. Those of us with a professional interest in civil nuclear power have devoted a good deal of our time during the past year to assessing the implications of the Chernobyl accident for the future of civil nuclear energy. I am, in fact, a firm advocate of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. I believe that reliance on nuclear power in a prudent mix of energy resources is essential if we are to have a secure energy future.
But it is not my purpose this evening to plead the case for peaceful nuclear energy. I would like, rather, to discuss the conditions and controls under which civil nuclear power must operate if it is to retain the public's confidence. In view of my position as head of the State Department bureau responsible for most aspects of peaceful nuclear energy affairs, I will, of course, be addressing these conditions and controls in their international dimension.
There are, it seems to me, two broad areas that need to be looked at.
One pertains to the operational safety of nuclear facilities. This consideration is generally uppermost in the minds of the public. The very notion of nuclear power has traditionally stirred a vague sense of unease in the minds of many people, perhaps as a legacy of the earliest use of atomic power for military purposes and the vivid and indelible impression such use has left in our imaginations. Dramatic accidents at civil nuclear installations, like those at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, have also, no doubt, played a part in provoking a certain skepticism regarding the claims of the peaceful atom.
The other area of concern has to do with preventing the spread of nuclear explosives to additional countries. This is the realm of nuclear nonproliferation. The very inelegance of the term perhaps has something to do with its relatively weaker hold on the public imagination, as compared to questions of nuclear safety. To some extent it has been overshadowed by the issue of nuclear weapons reductions or nuclear disarmament by the superpowers. And perhaps, too, the very success of our nonproliferation efforts over the years has tended to relegate those efforts--which quite literally produce "non-events'--to the back pages of the newspapers.
It is often forgotten that in the early 1960s, commentators were warning of a world with 15 or …