A Bomb in Every Reactor

As a rule, the path to nuclear-power status always begins with so-called “civilian” nuclear programs. So, if the world's existing nuclear powers are serious about non-proliferation, they must not only fulfill their obligation to disarm, but should also abandon their own nuclear-energy programs.

BERLIN – Twenty-five years after the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, the ongoing catastrophe at the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan has – it must be hoped – made clear once and for all that the purported blessings of the nuclear age are mere illusions: nuclear power is neither clean nor safe nor cheap.

Indeed, the opposite is true. Nuclear power is saddled with three major unresolved risks: plant safety, nuclear waste, and, most menacing of all, the risk of military proliferation. Moreover, the alternatives to nuclear energy – and to fossil fuels – are well known and technically much more advanced and sustainable. Taking on nuclear risk is not a necessity; it is a deliberate political choice.

Fossil-fuel and nuclear energy belong to the technological utopias of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which were based on a belief in the innocence of the technologically feasible and on the fact that, at the time, only a minority of people worldwide, largely in the West, benefited from technological progress.

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