Opinion

The Great Debate

The nuclear option for emerging markets

Last year, greenhouse gas emissions reached a record high of 39 billion tons. Emissions actually dropped in the United States and Europe, but substantial increases in China and India more than erased this bit of good news.

That is all the more reason to focus on innovative solutions that slow the growth in emissions from emerging markets.

The U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal is one such solution.

The key principles of this agreement were signed by President George W. Bush and Prime Minster Manmohan Singh eight years ago this week. The deal brought India’s civilian nuclear program under the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspection regime. In return, Washington removed sanctions and permitted India to build nuclear power plants with foreign help. Most of the discussion leading up to the deal has focused on its potential effect on non-proliferation treaties and on the partnership between the U.S. and India.

The deal’s most lasting effect, however, may well be its role in reducing the growth in greenhouse gas emissions, while giving India the electricity it desperately needs.

India is growing rapidly. In recent years its economy has expanded by 6 percent to 7 percent per year. This growth is exacerbating a voracious appetite for electricity that India’s bankrupt utilities are unable to satisfy. India’s electricity generation still relies almost 60 percent on coal. Blackouts are common.

from The Great Debate UK:

Multinational repositories can address nuclear waste stockpile

--Behnam Taebi is assistant professor of philosophy, focusing on issues of ethics and nuclear power, at Delft University of Technology.--

Across much of the world, nuclear power continues to spawn controversy.  For instance, concern over the Fukushima site continues, and a risky, unprecedented operation has just begun to remove thousands of fuel rods.

Meanwhile, despite the landmark international deal agreed on Sunday that saw parts of Iran’s nuclear programme frozen for six months, some critics wonder whether the deal contains sufficient non-proliferation safeguards.  Iran’s case is particularly relevant because it establishes a precedent for the twenty new countries that are planning to join the ‘nuclear club’ in coming decades.

Helping Iran safeguard its nuclear stockpile

Diplomats from six world powers  are due back in Kazakhstan on Friday for talks with Iran about its controversial nuclear program. From the hawkish “bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran” crowd to the “jaw-jaw-not-war-war” folks, there is no shortage of ideas about how to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.

Lost in the din is the prospect that the United Nations agency charged with monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities could settle the most pressing issue – by helping Iran convert its enriched uranium gas stockpile to safer metal form. If only the world powers will encourage it to do its job.

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) not only monitors member states’ nuclear programs to make sure they are in compliance with required safeguards obligations, but it also provides technical cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

Can diplomacy prevail with Iran?

New talks with Iran ended Wednesday with a surprising forward spin. More meetings are planned in the now decade-long American-led effort to ensure the Islamic Republic does not get nuclear weapons.

Iran must now accept or reject a proposal that offers some sanctions relief in return for Tehran’s reducing its stockpile of uranium enriched close to weapon-grade. This hopeful note – Tehran’s reaction was positive – comes as a showdown looms, because Iran continues to inch ever closer to being able to make a nuclear weapon.

In a diplomatic process where expectations are low, the talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on Tuesday and Wednesday were considered a success. The United States and its negotiating partners – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – got what they wanted. A senior U.S. official said Washington was “not expecting a breakthrough in Almaty.” It was enough, the official said, that the six major powers had the “opportunity to put a new and promising proposal on the table.”

Don’t forget Iran’s record of deception

Optimism that this week’s talks in Baghdad about Iran’s nuclear weapons program could produce a deal should be tempered with extreme skepticism and caution in light of the Islamic Republic’s long record of lies and deception.

The international media is awash with speculation that some kind of agreement is in the offing between the six nations that make up the so-called P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and the Iranians.

Such a deal, we read, would require Iran to stop enriching uranium above 5 percent and ship its stockpile of 20-percent-enriched uranium (currently estimated at more than 100 kilograms) out of the country. Enrichment at the reinforced underground facility in Fordo, near Qom, would have to stop.

The cantankerous effects from Japan’s radiation

JAPAN-QUAKE/

Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, president of Environmental Health Trust, is an award-winning scientist and writer on environmental health issues, author of “The Secret History of the War on Cancer,” and “Disconnect” who served as the founding director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 1983-93. The opinions expressed are her own.

The discovery of ionizing radiation at the turn of the nineteenth century revolutionized science and society. Within two weeks of their being created at the end of 1895, the stunning x-ray images of his wife’s bejeweled hand that physics professor Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen had taken appeared in major newspapers around the world. From Paris, to London and Tokyo, scientists and celebrities engaged in a world-wide medical vogue with fashionable x-ray parties featuring popular demonstrations of moving skeletons.

This extraordinary discovery in fact came with extraordinary risks. The same technology that could light up lurking solid tumors of the lung and stomach and save lives on the battle field also damaged the ability of bone to make healthy red blood cells and induced an array of crippling deformities. Girls who worked hand-painting clock dials with luminescent radioactive paint and wet their brushes with their tongues to craft fine lines lost their jawbones years later.  Men who chipped uranium out of the earth eventually grew pale as their blood became swamped with white blood cells and bereft of iron by aplastic anemia and leukemia.

Nuclear power: pros and cons

As part of the Reuters Summit on global climate and alternative energy, Reuters.com asked Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club and Ian Hore-Lacy, director of public communication for the World Nuclear Association to discuss the role of nuclear energy. Here are their responses.

(Carl Pope’s rebuttal was posted at 8:30 a.m. ET on September 10.)

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