Nuclear Weapons

The Nonproliferation and Disarmament Challenges of Naval Nuclear Propulsion

08.23.17 | 1 min read | Text by Thomas Shea

A so-called loophole might allow a non-nuclear weapon state (NNWS) to use a naval reactor program to acquire nuclear weapons by taking nuclear material outside of safeguards and then potentially diverting some of that material. Additionally, nuclear-armed states with nuclear-powered warships might use their naval reactor programs to justify keeping a substantial inventory of highly enriched uranium (HEU)3 that could be quickly converted to nuclear weapon use or low enriched uranium (LEU) that could also be converted, but with more steps required to boost the LEU to HEU. Recognizing these and related nonproliferation and disarmament challenges, this report presents a proposal for the 2020 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference: a naval reactor quid pro quo (QPQ) for nuclear- armed states4 and NPT non-nuclear weapon states.