Thursday, 4 January 2018

The importance of challenging nuclear nonsense

Letter to The Guardian

But his scholarship shows a little knowledge can be dangerously embarrassing. He is inaccurate in every particular he argues.

Inn praising South Korea’s nuclear programme as ‘cheap and clean” he overlooks the fact the country’s President, Moon Jae-in, has recently announced Seoul is pulling out of nuclear (“South Korea's president says will continue phasing out nuclear power, Reuters, 22 October 2017,; that earthquake worries have been recently raised in the peninsula (South Korea: Concerns raised over safety of nuclear plants,”Al Jazeera, 26 Dec 2017;; and that all of South Korea’s 24 reactors and adjoining unprotected spent nuclear fuels storage ponds are within 15 minutes flight-time of devastation by tens of thousands of North Korean conventional precision   missiles.

Unfortunately, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)  protocols do not “clearly and strictly” break the linkage between civil and military nuclear  production cycles. Indeed, under the 1978 IAEA-Euratom-UK trilateral so-called voluntary nuclear  “safeguards” agreement, under its article 14, nuclear materials may be withdrawn if the Government so decides they are needed for  national security reasons.


This not a theoretical option:  this has actually been done over 600 times since September 1978, when the trilateral safeguards agreement came into force. Indeed, the national nuclear regulator, ONR, itself now publishes annual data on such withdrawals on its web site,


Finally,  in a little noticed report issued by the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee ( published on 1st December last year) on  The progress of the UK's negotiations on EU withdrawal,’ supporting industrial sectoral evidence number 24, as provided to the committee by the government on the nuclear industry, notes at para 13:


“There are also synergies between UK civil nuclear and the defence nuclear programme, particularly in terms of the transferability of the skilled workforce.”


Indeed, as long ago as on 15 May 2006, in a New Statesman article I co- authored with Professor Keith Barnham, also from Imperial College,( , we pointed  “what is clear is that the MoD and the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) are stakeholders in the UK Research Council’s “Keep the Nuclear Option Open” project (April 2006;


Before firing off letters on nuclear issues, Mr Foley needs to do much more proper research.


1 comment:

  1. Bravo!

    Important point that the nuclear weapons industry depends on the "civil" nuclear industry for developing expertise. Perhaps that is why the UK government is also backing uneconomic "Gen 1V" nuclear reactor development.