Proliferation

The UN International Atomic Energy Agency is dedicated to the worldwide expansion of nuclear power, but is also meant to be the watch-dog for illegal nuclear weapon development. That contradiction has been a key reason the proliferation of such arms has been unstopable.

Greenpeace wants to halt the spread of nuclear power across the globe

It is a simple fact that every state that has nuclear power capability, has nuclear weapon capability. So out of the current 44 nuclear powerstates, we could potentially have 44 nuclear weapons states. Several nations have used their civil nuclear-operations to develop weapons capability, including India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

It is not just us saying this, Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, the Director General of the IAEA said: "Should a state with a fully developed fuel-cycle capability decide, for whatever reason, to break away from its non-proliferation commitments, most experts believe it could produce a nuclear weapon within a matter of months."

The world's growing stockpile of civilian-use plutonium is a cause of proliferation concern. By the end of 2003, approximately 238 tons of plutonium had been separated in commercial reprocessing facilities, compared to 250 tons, which were generated for nuclear weapons. Some 103 tons of this military plutonium has been declared 'excess' and willbe added to the 'civil' plutonium stockpile.

Most of the military plutonium belongs to Russia (130 tons) and the US(100 tons). While military plutonium production has almost stopped completely after the end of the cold war, commercial reprocessing continues.

Considering that only five kilograms of reactor plutonium is enough to fabricate a crude nuclear warhead - the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki in 1945 and killed 50,000 people contained 6.1 kilograms of plutonium - the security of the plutonium stockpiles is paramount.

Civil Stockpiles

There are civil stockpiles stored in France, Britain, Russia, Japan, India, Belgium, Germany, and the US. Yet Britain, France, Japan, Russia, and India continue to produce more civil plutonium. Itis expected that by the end of 2010, the stockpile of separated plutonium will further increase from 238 to 286 tons.

A program borne in the wake of 9/11 will spend US $20 billion over 10 years in a global effort to prevent terrorists and other would-be proliferators from acquiring nuclear weapons. But the only way to address the issue is to simply stop all reprocessing and plutonium production.

Civil nuclear programmes lead to nuclear arms - visit our disarmament section.

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The latest updates

 

Letter to UN Secretary -General Kofi Annan

Publication | June 1, 2006 at 0:00

Greenpeace responds to Kofi Annan's speech of 18 May 2006 at Tokyo University on the NPT crisis of confidence and compliance.

Securing our safety, ensuring our survival - why US NATO nuclear weapons in Europe...

Publication | May 30, 2006 at 0:00

Six European countries - Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands,Turkey and the United Kingdom - host 480 US owned and controlled nuclear bombs under NATO “nuclear sharing” arrangements. These weapons are illegal,irresponsible and unjustifiable.

The end of KEDO: Why supplying a nuclear reactor to North Korea would have increased...

Publication | May 23, 2006 at 0:00

The discussion about the North Korean demand for nuclear reactor technology in exchange for abandoning its nuclear weapons program is premised on the misconception that Light Water Reactors are "proliferation resistant". This briefing has been...

Cover letter to UN International Atomic Energy Agency to reform its mandate.

Publication | April 11, 2006 at 0:00

Cover letter sent to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency concerning the call from former Environment Ministers for the Agency to stop promoting nuclear power.

A Call to Reform the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mandate

Publication | April 11, 2006 at 0:00

On The 20th Anniversary of Chernobyl: A Call from former Environment Ministers to reform the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mandate and end the Nuclear Age.

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