Nuclear Proliferation

Nuclear power was the failed answer to the horrors of the atomic bomb - the so-called "Peaceful Atom." However, the two technologies are inextricably linked. Countries such as India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea clandestinely developed nuclear weapons using the infrastructure, technology and know-how of their "civilian" nuclear programs. Contained expansion of nuclear power across the globe only increases the chances of nuclear weapons development and is counterproductive to disarmament.



Mohamed Elbaradei's "The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times"

Former director general (1997-2009) of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency and 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohamed Elbaradei, has published a memoir, The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times. In the introduction, he writes:

"...One way or another we are on the cusp of significant change. If we do nothing, attempting to maintain the status quo of nuclear have and have-nots, the change will likely take the form of a veritable cascade of proliferation, or worse still, a series of nuclear exchanges. The signs are already apparent, most revealingly in the reactions of neighboring countries as real or perceived nuclear weapons threats emerge. The recent surge in the number of countries across the Middle East talking about or beginning to acquire nuclear technology and expertise is but one example. The suggestions by senior Japanese officials to open discussions about a Japanese nuclear weapons program in response to North Korea's first nuclear weapons test is yet another.

There is also an alternative. We could change course and embrace a different approach: a resolution of the asymmetry through genuine progress toward global nuclear disarmament. A new weapons reduction treaty between the global nuclear giants, to be followed by a forum in which the nuclear-weapon states begin to take responsibility for their need to disarm -- these are the pathways that could lead us toward a more secure future..." (from page 8)

Joseph Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund, has written a book review.


National coalition urges U.S. Senate Democratic Leadership to ratify New START Treaty this year

Presidents Obama and Medvedev at signing of New START Treaty, Prague, Czech Republic, April 8, 2010. The treaty now awaits U.S. Senate ratification.Beyond Nuclear has joined with a diverse coalition of arms control, non-proliferation, peace, religious, and other groups in sending a letter urging U.S. Senate Democratic Leaders Harry Reid of Nevada, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Chuck Schumer of New York to schedule floor action for, and win passage of, the New START Treaty with Russia concerning nuclear weapons before it is dismissed and a new Senate sworn in early next year. In addition to Beyond Nuclear, the coalition of signatories includes: Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, American Friends Service Committee, Federation of American Scientists, Hoover Institution, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Bipartisan Security Group, Global Security Institute, Ambassador Robert Grey (Former US Representative to the Conference on Disarmament), Center for American Progress, Methodists United for Peace with Justice, Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World, National Security Network, British American Security Information Council, Tri-Valley CAREs, Arms Control Association, Truman National Security Project, Union of Concerned Scientists, Citizens for Global Solutions, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Council for a Livable World, Jan Lodal (Former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense), League of Women Voters of the U.S., Peace Action, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, WAND (Women's Action for New Directions), Americans for Informed Democracy, Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers), Global Green USA, Two Futures Project, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.


A single armed guard was all that protected Libyan weapons-usable highly enriched uranium for a month

French President Nicholas Sarkozy hopes to sell French nuclear technology to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi AP has reported that leaked U.S. diplomatic memos have revealed that in late 2009, 11.5 pounds of highly enriched uranium (HEU) at a nuclear facility in Libya were guarded by only a single armed guard for about a month. The critical mass for 85% HEU is about 110 pounds, meaning that the Libyan HEU would have provided 10% of the HEU needed for a nuclear weapon. In addition to the inadequate security, the U.S. diplomatic memos fretted about a loading crane that could have been used to steal the casks containing the HEU, and warned that the HEU could leak out of its containers within a few months.


North and South Korea exchange fire along disputed border

Nuclear-armed North Korea, and heavily conventionally-armed South Korea, have exchanged fire in one of the sharpest escalations of military violence since the end of the Korean War over 50 years ago. This comes just days after it was revealed that North Korea may have a fully operational, advanced uranium enrichment facility, capable -- as with any uranium enrichment facility in any country -- of enriching uranium to weapons-grade. And just days before that, it was revealed that North Korea is building a new atomic reactor, capable -- as with any reactor in any country -- of generating plutonium that can be extracted via reprocessing for weapons use. In fact, North Korea reprocessed irradiated nuclear fuel from a research reactor to extract the plutonium used in its 2006 and 2009 nuclear weapons test explosions, as well as to fabricate the handful of atomic bombs it is assumed to now possess.


Large-scale, advanced uranium enrichment facility revealed in North Korea

Photo of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.David Sanger and William Broad have reported in the New York Times that the Kim Jong Il regime in North Korea may have -- within just the past year -- built a uranium enrichment facility with thousands of cascades that is already operating. This is in addition to the recent revelation that North Korea is also building a new atomic reactor. The reactor could provide additional plutonium for North Korea's atomic weapons arsenal via reprocessing, while the uranium enrichment facility could concentrate Uranium-235 to weapons-grade, and even provide the material needed to fabricate hydrogen bombs -- orders of magnitude more destructive than the dozen or so atomic bombs suspected in North Korea's current nuclear arsenal. As the New York Times mentions, the Abdul Q. Khan nuclear weapons black market likely provided North Korea essential know how and materials needed to master uranium enrichment; however, Khan did not do this alone, but with the full backing of the military and even government of Pakistan, as well as the complicity of multiple U.S. administration's "looking the other way" in order to stay on good terms with Pakistan.