The Link Between Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons

Page - April 7, 2005
Nuclear Reactors Create the Material and Technological Expertise to Make Nuclear Weapons

From the dawn of the nuclear age, it has been recognized that nuclear power and nuclear weapons are inextricably linked. The 1946 Acheson-Lillienthal report on the control of atomic energy recognized that, "the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes and the development of atomic energy for bombs are in much of their course interchangeable and interdependent." It is no coincidence that the United States, the Soviet Union, France and Great Britain all developed commercial programs in conjunction with their bomb building efforts. Civilian programs sprang from the perceived need to produce plutonium.

Civilian nuclear programs have led to the proliferation of nuclear weapons in India, Pakistan, Israel and South Africa. India's nuclear program began in 1960 with a research reactor provided by Canada and run with heavy water supplied by the United States. According to the New York Times, American technicians trained Indian scientists to reprocess plutonium from the radioactive fuel. Indians then used the plutonium for a nuclear bomb in 1974. The Indian government called the use of this nuclear device "a peaceful nuclear explosion."

The inextricable link between the "peaceful atom" and nuclear weapons has never been more evident. The United States has helped to blur the line between nuclear power and nuclear weapons by using the Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar reactor to produce tritium for nuclear bombs. American, Canadian, German, Russian and French nuclear corporations continue to circle the globe attempting to sell nuclear power technology to anyone who will buy it. While nuclear sales may benefit the corporate bottom line, the spread of nuclear technology and ultimately nuclear weapons undermines our national security and the security of the planet.