More than five years after it was completed, the Department of Energy last year finally released a landmark historical account of U.S. production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from 1945 to 1996.
Conceived a decade ago as a bold initiative to set a new standard for international transparency and government accountability, the HEU study was released under pressure as an unwilling concession to the rule of law, i.e. the Freedom of Information Act.
The story of the five year campaign to win public disclosure of the HEU study and an initial assessment of its significance for nuclear nonproliferation policy were presented in a paper (pdf) by myself and Princeton physicist Frank von Hippel in the latest issue of The Nonproliferation Review.
See “The U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium Declaration: Transparency Deferred but not Denied” by Steven Aftergood and Frank von Hippel, Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 14, No. 1, March 2007.
The paper was discussed at a forum of the Monterey Institute Center for Nonproliferation Studies on May 17, with a response from Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive.
The HEU Study itself, “Highly Enriched Uranium: Striking A Balance,” is posted here.
Update: Arms Control Wonk had some interesting observations on possible next steps in international verification of past HEU production.
Common frameworks for evaluating proposals leave this utility function implicit, often evaluating aspects of risk, uncertainty, and potential value independently and qualitatively.
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