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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