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World Governance of Civilian and Military Nuclear Energy

Created date

Sunday, March 7, 2010 - 11:53

Hell for humanity, bringer of peace and prosperity are the two sides of the nuclear coin. Managing them requires wisdom and foresight within a framework of good governance.

Which begs the question: What is “good world governance of nuclear energy”?

It simply means developing the nuclear-power industry in a way that ensures that the international community as a whole, and each individual member, live in peace and prosperity on our planet. This process implies taking into account the existence of nuclear weapons and the problems raised by the risk of proliferation.

Proliferation is defined as attempts to acquire nuclear weapons by states, or possibly more or less illegally by non-state organizations, sometimes even by certain governments in violation of treaties such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT).[[Signed on July 1, 1968, and effective as of 5 March 1970.]] In a process known as “deproliferation,” the five nuclear powers that signed and ratified the NNPT agreed to various commitments between 1968 and 1991 related to the reduction of nuclear arsenals.[["Deproliferation" is a term invented by the author in 1995 to designate the reduction in the number of weapons owned by countries with official access to them, the renunciation of the right to own illegally manufactured weapons (as South Africa does) and the cessation of programs judged to be proliferating (Argentina and Brazil).]] This process was set in motion at the end of the Cold War, hand in hand with numerous security and confidence-building measures aimed at limiting the risk of confrontation. In early 2009, the USA made a strong commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons, a development expected to give a fresh impetus to the deproliferation process.

From the outset, nuclear programs have attracted and repelled, for an extraordinarily varied and inevitably contradictory range of reasons.

International opinion first perceived nuclear power as the force behind the spectacularly destructive explosion of the two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. In point of fact, aside from in Japan, the event was seen as just one more horror by populations suffering from five years of atrocities (more in China’s case), notably terror bombing. All these operations targeted civilian populations, on both sides. This should never be forgotten.

In the civilian sphere, two major accidents generated negative feelings towards the nuclear industry: at the USA’s Three Miles Island in March 1979, and April 1986’s more serious accident at Chernobyl in Ukraine. It is also sometimes claimed that the chemical-plant accidents in Seveso, Italy, Bhopal in India, causing 3,000 deaths, and, to a lesser extent, the AZF plant in France in September 2001, causing 30 deaths, are on the same catastrophic scale. This is not the issue. The 4,000 deaths in Ukraine (according to a United Nations estimate) and the number of people affected to varying degrees by radiation (around 70,000) is sufficient cause for legitimate alarm.

[draft version]

Attached files pdf_610_Nucleaire_-_AR-2.pdf ( B)  pdf_610_prov_Francois_Gere_-_gouvernance_mondiale_nucleaire-2.pdf ( B)  pdf_610_prov_Francois_Gere_-_World_Governance_of_Civilian_and_Military_Nuclear_Energy-2.pdf ( B) 

By François Géré

Director, Institut Français d’Analyse Stratégique Global Security, SAFE Program Director. Special adviser to the director of the Collège Interarmées de Défense, at the École militaire, Paris.