The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is undergoing its latest five-yearly review at the United Nations in New York right now.
Yesterday Greenpeace held an official NPT side event where independent experts highlighted the growing nuclear weapons proliferation risks linked to the expansion of nuclear power across the world. The experts Dr. Frank Barnaby and Shaun Burnie presented a critique of the impact of Multilateral Nuclear Approaches (MNAs) currently under discussion as means to reduce proliferation risks. In particular, they highlighted the relative ease with which plutonium can be separated from spent nuclear fuel from light water reactors, using a clandestine reprocessing facility.
Dr. Frank Barnaby warned: "The military atom and the peaceful atom are identical. The technology to produce nuclear weapons is the same as that used in civil nuclear reactors. Any nation operating a light water reactor will have the means to acquire plutonium within days of operating a secret reprocessing plant."
Nuclear expert Shaun Burnie added: "Multilateral approaches proposed to control the trade in uranium fuel in practice will play no role in the multibillion nuclear fuel market. Those promoting the multilateral approaches create an illusion that you can expand nuclear power without proliferation risks - you can't."
The proposed ‘solutions’ to tackle proliferation risks are merely excuses to allow for a global expansion of the nuclear energy. Further spread and growth of nuclear energy would lead to dramatic and unacceptable increase of proliferation risks through the growing production of accessible spent nuclear fuel and, hence, nuclear weapons materials such as plutonium, and the uncontrollable spread of (potentially) dual technologies.
Countries proposing new regimes in controlling civil nuclear power are those that promote a global nuclear expansion, including to states that currently have no nuclear program. The NPT delegations should acknowledge that the only way of reducing the nuclear proliferation risks is to phase out the use of nuclear energy.
You can watch a video of the event right here.