Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Archive for December 21st, 2009

Dealing with Nuclear Waste: Canada Opts for Volunteerism

Posted by K.E. White on December 21, 2009

Should America emulate Canada when it comes to storing nuclear waste?

This Christian Science Monitor article explores Canada’s attempt to store its growing quantities of nuclear waste. Seeking to avoid Yucca Mountain fiascoes, Canada’s privately controlled effort hopes communities will volunteer to store nuclear waste.

From the article:

In the US, site selection has been a top-down affair, with politics playing a central role. In 1987, Congress passed a law ordering the Department of Energy to explore only one location, Yucca Mountain in Nevada, which billions in studies subsequently showed to be problematic. Nevada vehemently opposed the plan, as did Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada. President Obama canned the project earlier this year, leaving US nuclear waste policy in limbo.

Canada’s plan aims to avoid local resistance by requiring communities to ask to be considered as hosts for an underground repository. Volunteers will be given extensive information on the ecological risks and economic benefits of the repository, which is expected to cost between $16 billion and $24 billion. After public endorsement via referendum or other means, the community would become a candidate for extensive technical review.

“The only way that a community will be involved in the process is by it choosing to be involved,” says Mike Krizanc, spokesman for the NWMO, the entity charged with finding the site. “It will be an informed and willing community.”

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Australian-Japanese Report Provides General Overview of Disarmament & Nonproliferation Issues

Posted by K.E. White on December 21, 2009

A new report provides detailed and wide-ranging recommendations to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. Sponsored by the Japanese and Australian governments, the report seeks to influence ongoing preparations for the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty next summer.

The report also comes before a nuclear security summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama next April.

Without a chance to read it, for now I’ll offer this critique from Greg Sheridan at The Australian:

In its political analysis, the report often seems to exist in a kind of parallel universe, where all states pay attention to the UN and do just as they’re told and all disagreements are solved by negotiation. That may be a laudable end, but pretending the world is like that does not help policy-makers take sensible decisions.

More generally, he argues that nuclear disarmament will be possible when even the prospect of major war is unthinkable. Well, yes, I suppose if you’ve achieved total world peace you may be able to negotiate nuclear weapons away. But for the next 1000 years or so we’ll still have to grapple with them.

Evans is very taken with the idea that all states possessing nuclear weapons should declare that their only purpose for having them is to deter other nations from attacking them or their allies with nukes. Yet he recognises that the “no first use” declaration of the old Soviet Union was “almost universally dismissed as purely a propaganda exercise”, and that similar statements by other powers are greeted with cynicism. Therefore, he says, “it may be better to settle in the first instance for a different formulation of essentially the same idea”. That, sadly, just about sums up this report: a different formulation of some very tired and unrealistic ideas.

The report is often very confusing. It states baldly that the problems of North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs can be solved by negotiation, without the slightest evidence of this being true. Evans states that the Iran situation looks unlikely “to be resolved by the further application of coercive sanctions”.

The report takes the mistaken standard international left line against national missile defence, even while asserting that theatre missile defence is a good thing, and acknowledging that you can’t really distinguish one from the other. And on and on. This report serves certain bureaucratic and even political ends. It does nothing for nuclear disarmament.

And Sheridan isn’t alone. This Times of India article expresses India’s frustration with the report.

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