Last week President Obama raised the hopes of millions worldwide that we will move towards a safer and more sustainable world when he said in Berlin “Peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons -- no matter how distant that dream may be…”and added “we are also citizens of the world. And our faiths and fortunes are linked like never before. We may no longer live in fear of global annihilation, but so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe." (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/19/remarks-president-obama-brandenburg-gate-berlin-germany) (“Obama calls for reduction in nuclear arms in broad-brush Berlin speech,”20 June)
This week in a widely hailed speech on ways to combat climate change, he strongly supported nuclear power expansion as one essential option that the US must take.(“Obama vows to bypass Congress to tackle climate change,” 26 June), backed by your leader (“Obama and climate change: fresh air,”) but without reference to his backing of the atom.
Why does he rightly highlight the threat from nuclear weapons, but regards nuclear power as benign?
As with former UK chief scientific advisor to the UK Government, Professor Sir David King, President Obama’s analysis of the threat posed by climate change is excellent, but his prescription to combat it with nuclear is flawed.
In his address on energy to Georgetown University in Washington DC, Obama said (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/25/remarks-president-climate-change) He stressed how the US Government is pursuing a policy of what he calls “clean energy”,including nuclear.
The White House says in the FY 2014 Budget the resource support is to increase by 30%. The President’s new Climate Action Plan, released on 25 June, states in a section entitled Sustainable energy for all (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf): “The United States will continue to promote the safe and secure use of nuclear power worldwide through a variety of bilateral and multilateral engagements. ..Going forward, we will expand these efforts to promote nuclear energy generation consistent with maximizing safety and nonproliferation goals.”
Much as I admire much of what Mr Obama has done, he is wrong on nuclear power, as is the Coalition and Labour Party It is not secure nor ultimately safe, as the nuclear waste problem remains unsolved. Nor is it possible to make it 100% proliferation proof.
On the same day as Obama unveiled his energy strategy, the US Center for Public Integrity issued a report on just one major US nuclear project that is both not needed and massively over cost, just like many other nuclear projects. The mixed oxide (“mox”) plutonium fuels plant at Savannah River has eaten up taxpayers’ money ( $3.7 billion to date) for 6 years and is now close to cancellation due to cost overruns (http://www.orovillemr.com/news/ci_23525319/nuclear-waste-how-huge-u-s-nonproliferation-program-became-major-proliferation-concern)
Instead of peddling nuclear power, Mr Obama should adopt the nuclear- free future two-step, out of atomic power and weapons together, and wean the US off this old -ashioned, out-of-date and failed technology and move towards a genuine sustainable security and energy future