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

 

Nuclear proliferation starts at home

Feature story | April 26, 2004 at 0:00

While the glare of the world's media is focused upon the release of Mordechai Vanunu after 18 years in prison for revealing the world's most open secret - that Israel has the bomb - diplomats from all over the world are preparing for an important...

The U.S., article VI and the 13 steps: continued defiance or reluctant compliance?

Publication | April 23, 2004 at 0:00

At the 2000 Review Conference, Parties to the NPT agreed 13 practical steps towards disarmament. This briefing shows how Greenpeace believes these steps can be strengthened by the 2005 Review. onference.

Nuclear shipments and the NPT

Publication | April 23, 2004 at 0:00

Shipments of nuclear material represent a security risk and threat to the economies and environments of coastal states that is both unnecessary and unacceptable. This briefing particularly addresses those issues of relevance to Small Island...

Planning for failure -international nuclear safeguards and the Rokkasho-mura...

Publication | April 23, 2004 at 0:00

This paper attempts to explain the evolution of safeguards since the beginning of the nuclear age, and specifically to analyze the safeguards technology to be applied at the Rokkasho-mura reprocessing facility in Japan. This facility is the most...

The proliferation security initiative

Publication | April 23, 2004 at 0:00

The US lead Proliferation Security Initiative is intended to address the growing proliferation problem by 'enhancing' national and international export control enforcement mechanisms. This briefing argues that the PSI is of dubious legal status...

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