Should the U.S. Encourage RoK and Japan to Make Plutonium Based Nuclear Fuels?

Next month, Secretary of State Kerry will visit South Korea and Japan.  High on the list of topics to be discussed in Seoul will be how to proceed with the renewal of the U.S.-RoK agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation, which will expire early in 2014. Currently, negotiations have bogged down over Seoul’s request that the U.S. permit it to chemically process U.S. nuclear fuel assemblies that already have been used in South Korean reactors to make new, plutonium-based nuclear fuels. What should U.S. policy toward South Korea and Japanese nuclear recycling ambitions be?  Should the U.S. treat South Korea as it does its other close East Asian security ally, Japan, and allow it to recycle U.S. origin spent fuel?

On Thursday, April 4, 2013, The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) will host a lunch seminar on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, addressing these questions. Speakers include Dr. Frank Von Hippel, Professor of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and Mr. William Tobey, Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University.

For more information on the event or to RSVP, visit the event page on the NPEC website.

Prospects for Nuclear Power in the United States

Yesterday, I gave a presentation at the Global America Business Institute and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s workshop in Washington, DC regarding the  prospects for nuclear power use in the United State. I spoke about the economic, security and environmental challenges associated with the use of nuclear power.

The slides from my presentation are available here.

Role of Scientists and Engineers in National and International Security

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Today, I am speaking at a colloquium hosted by the University of Texas at Austin Physics Department regarding the role of scientists and engineers in the security field.  Additionally, I will address current and future challenges for scientists and engineers to improve international security.

You can view my presentation slides here (PDF).

Why Physicists Have a Responsibility to Society

Presentation to the March Meeting of the American Physical Society, February 27, 2012, Boston, MA.

The debate and controversy over the National Science Foundation (NSF) criterion on broader societal impacts of NSF-funded research have served the important function of challenging the physics community to reexamine why public money should support pure and applied physics research and what is the role of physicists in society. I will argue that the criterion, while well intentioned, appears ill informed and runs the risk of creating a check list of activities that will seemingly fulfill physicists’ responsibility to connect their work to larger societal issues. Continue reading

FAS Roundup- January 23, 2012

FAS Roundup: January 23, 2012

India’s rejection of nuclear weapons for warfighting, future of nuclear power, reclassificiation of nuclear weapons information  and much more.


From the Blogs

  • Dept of Energy Wants to Reclassify Some Info as “Restricted Data”:  Steven Aftergood writes that the Department of Energy has asked Congress to amend the Atomic Energy Act to allow certain nuclear weapons information that has been removed from the “Restricted Data” classification category to be restored to that category. In a letter to Congress requesting the proposed amendment, Energy Secretary Steven Chu suggested that the current arrangement leaves some nuclear weapons design information inadequately protected.
  • Indian Army Chief- Nukes Not for Warfighting:  On January 15, 2012, General V.K Singh said that India’s nuclear weapons “are not for warfighting.” Hans Kristensen writes that the rejection of nuclear warfighting ideas is a welcoming development in the debate over the role of nuclear weapons in South Asia.
  • Whither Nuclear Power?: In the aftermath of the Fukushima accident, Germany and Switzerland have put a halt to their nuclear power programs, America’s nuclear renaissance has slowed, and Japan is trying to figure out how to substitute alternative energy sources for nuclear power.  Dr. Y writes on the ScienceWonk Blog that it is understandable that the world might feel an aversion to nuclear power at the moment, but it is no more dangerous than any other form of energy.
  • Army Foresees Expanded Use of Drones in U.S. Airspace: The Army issued a new directive last week to govern the growing use of unmanned aircraft systems or “drones” within the United States for training missions and for “domestic operations.” Much of the Army’s UAS activity will be devoted to UAS operator training conducted at or near military facilities. But beyond such training activities, the military also envisions a role for UAS in unspecified “domestic operations” in civilian airspace.
  • Radioactive Tissues?: On January 12, 2012, Bed, Bath, & Beyond announced that it had received a shipment of steel tissue holders (manufactured in India) that were contaminated with radioactive cobalt-60. Dr. Y agrees that the tissue boxes are radioactive, but the question is whether or not they are sufficiently radioactive to cause health problems.
  • Testimony of Reporter Sought in Sterling Leak Case: In a brief filed in the case against former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling (who is accused of leaking classified information), prosecutors told the U.S. Court of Appeals that New York Times reporter James Risen should be compelled to testify at Mr. Sterling’s trial and to reveal whether it was Mr. Sterling who leaked information to him about a CIA program to disrupt Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Continue reading