While experts have long spoken of a “nuclear renaissance” in the global energy market, the Paris climate negotiations brought nuclear power to a new prominence. Climate change, regional political balancing, and other drivers have combined to push many countries to pledge increases in nuclear energy capacity in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted in advance of the 2015 climate conference. Though these national emissions-reduction plans are not yet legally binding in most countries, they are providing a greater level of detail that we normally see on long-term nuclear energy intentions. This, in turn, allows us greater fidelity in mapping the potential spread of the nuclear knowledge, technologies, and products of greatest concern — indispensable knowledge that we can use to minimize risks of the proliferation or terrorist acquisition of nuclear materials. India’s INDC submission specifically calls out fast breeder reactors — of higher concern for their rate of plutonium production — to illustrate the emissions mitigation technologies the country is eyeing. Indeed, press in India reported in early December that the country is planning six additional fast breeder reactors after the prototype that’s currently in the works becomes operational. This is a legitimate cause for concern in light of the “presence of groups interested in and capable of illicitly acquiring nuclear materials,” as well as other factors that recently led the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) to rank India as one of the countries of highest risk for theft of nuclear materials.
Climate & Security 22nd Jan 2016 read more »