It is more likely than in the past that China and the U.S. could enter into a military conflict, and the possibility of such a battle going nuclear is higher than many analysts believe, a security expert from Georgetown University has warned. Caitlin Talmadge, who is an associate professor of security studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, laid out a grim picture of how military escalation could play out between Washington and Beijing in an article for Foreign Affairs’ November-December issue. “The odds of such a confrontation going nuclear are higher than most policymakers and analysts think,” she wrote. However, she also pointed out that “a war between the two countries remains unlikely, but…no longer seems as implausible as it once did.”
Newsweek 17th Oct 2018 read more »
In the midst of the worsening trade war between the United States and China, the US Department of Energy (DoE) has announced new restrictions on the export of civil nuclear technology to China, effective immediately. These measures provide another means to address the issue of sensitive technology transfers to China. The Trump administration has similarly targeted Chinese investments aimed at acquiring US technology in other domains by setting up a new review system. In the field of nuclear energy, a recent case exemplifies these actions. In April 2016, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) along with a US nuclear energy consultant Allen Ho were indicted on charges of conspiracy to produce ‘special nuclear material outside the US without the required authorisation from the US DoE’. Ho was later sentenced, in essence, for attempting to bypass export control laws to illegally facilitate the sale of sensitive nuclear technology to CGN. It therefore comes as no surprise that CGN and its subsidiaries are directly targeted by this new policy framework. These measures will make it very difficult for US companies to receive new licenses for any export of US nuclear technology, equipment or components to CGN, as well as for certain types of advanced nuclear technologies such as small modular reactors (SMRs). But the policy specifically excludes Westinghouse’s current contract for the construction of four AP-1000 reactors in China, the first of which started generating power in July. Conversely, the licensing policy for the export of unique US components supporting the CAP-1400 reactor, whose design is based on the AP-1000 and the result of a much-criticised technology transfer by Westinghouse, falls under the ‘presumption of denial for requests’ category. While this policy does not ban the export of US nuclear technology to China outright, it will complicate US efforts to compete in the Chinese nuclear market and secure new contracts beyond the four AP-1000s. A multi-billion dollar nuclear deal, signed in June between Russia and China for the construction of new units in China and cooperation on fast reactors, suggests the US is already being edged out of the market. In addition to effectively encouraging even closer cooperation between Moscow and Beijing, the new US policy will likely push China’s nuclear industry to indigenise further. Chinese nuclear companies rebuffed the new measures by saying that ‘China’s nuclear development is self-reliant’.
IISS 18th Oct 2018 read more »