In spite of the fact that nuclear reprocessing continues to pose a number of economic and nonproliferation challenges, this process remains a significant factor in the current and future nuclear power plans of a number of nations
Nuclear proliferation is a political problem and the key to assessing proliferation risks is political judgment.
While international diffusion of nuclear materials and technology is an important cause of nuclear weapons proliferation, experts disagree on how best to address the problem and prevent countries from acquiring nuclear weapons.
In light of the 2008 U.S.–India deal, which exempted India from the nuclear trade guidelines set by the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the NSG now faces a delicate balancing act in confronting the possibility of a China-Pakistan nuclear deal.
Preventing the civilian nuclear fuel cycle from contributing to proliferation is an integral part of the disarmament challenge. The nuclear industry should participate positively in efforts to advance nonproliferation tools rather than seek to distance itself from this challenge.
The probability of nuclear terrorism may not be high, but the Nuclear Security Summit raises the awareness of states with nuclear materials and encourages real commitments toward preventing a nuclear terrorist attack.
The United States and India recently concluded arrangements for the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. This removes one of the final hurdles to fully implementing the 2008 U.S.-India nuclear deal, which exempted India from nuclear trade restrictions and has exacerbated nuclear tensions in South Asia.
Improving the reliability of nuclear fuel supplies is best achieved by giving priority to fuel leasing contracts coupled with long-term generic export licenses, and last resort multilateral fuel supply arrangements.
Nuclear power is not without risks, both from nuclear waste and the possible proliferation of nuclear fuel for weapons, and its cost and build-out time make it a partial solution, at best, to climate change.
Expectations of a nuclear energy renaissance are particularly high in the United States, but government programs to jump start new reactor construction will likely not be enough to spark more than a handful of reactors by 2015.