CRITICAL ISSUES FORUM
Nuclear Renaissance: Risks versus Benefits
The Author: Evgeny Bekker
High school №216 “Didakt”
The Teacher-Advisor: Elena Kurenkova
The Teacher of English
High school №216 “Didakt”
In Benchmark I I’ve given explanation of nuclear energy and its difference
from other energy sources. In benchmark II I’ll give an understanding of national
and international controls of nuclear energy, the spread of nuclear energy and and
some of the issues of spread and use of nuclear energy.
Nuclear power is beneficial sources of energy, but it’s also a very powerful
weapon. Because of that it is very important to control its proliferation in the
world. So there are organizations and laws that control it in every country that
possesses nuclear technologies. Let’s examine some of them.
Organizations monitoring nuclear energy in Russia
Until 1989 the USSR Ministry of Medium Machine-Building
controlled the situation with nuclear energy in Russia.
1989 the Ministry of Atomic Power and Industry (MAPI) replaced the
USSR Ministry of Medium Machine-Building.
Ministry of Atomic Energy was established by the presidential decree
on 28 January 1992 and it’s replaced the Ministry of Atomic Power
The Federal Atomic Energy Agency was established by Presidential
Edict No. 314 of 9 March 2004, On the System and Structure of
Federal Organs of Executive Power.
(Was formed in 9 march 2004)
The FAAE controls 151 nuclear production and research facilities.
Structure of FAAE organization
Org an z a io ns
O gan za on
connec e d w th nuc e ar
connecttted wiiitth nuclllearr
connec ed w h nuc ea
fu e cyc e
ue cyc e
“Rose nergoato m”
“Ro energoa om” Sc e n iffc cen e rss and
Sciiientttiifiiic centtterrs and
Sc en c cen e and
(C on rro ss h e nuc e ar
((Contttrollls ttthe nuclllearr
Con o he nuc ea n stitu e s
power p a n ss of
powe p an o
FAAE (“ M n ato m”)
FAAE “M na om”
Tekhsnabekspor ” “Ato msttroyeksp ort”
“A om royek por ”
(C on rro ss export of
Con o expo o (B u ld n g of nuc e ar
Bu d ng o nuc ea
nuc e ar ma e ria ss and
nuc ea ma e a and power p a n ss n o h er
powerrplllanttts iiin otttherr
powe p an n o he
fu e ))
ue coun rr e s))
(P ro duc io n of nuc e ar
P oduc on o nuc ea
fu e ))
Spheres of activity
Let’s compare two organizations from USA (U.S. NRS) and Russia (FAAE) that
control and monitor nuclear energy in their countries.
U.S. NRS FAAE
Date of creation 1974 9 march 2004
Functions Provides protection of Provides:
public health and Protection of
safety and of the environment from
environment from the negative
effects of radiation technological
from nuclear reactors, influence.
materials, and waste Safe use of nuclear
Developing Safe managing
regulations and explosive materials.
guidance for our Can edit or develop laws
applicants and connected with nuclear
Licensing or certifying Controls and watches
applicants to use over:
nuclear materials or Observation of laws in
operate nuclear sphere of nuclear energy.
facilities. Licenses of conduction
Overseeing licensee works in sphere of
operations and nuclear energy.
facilities to ensure that Nuclear, radiological
licensees comply with and technological safety.
holding hearings to
address the concerns
of parties affected by
agency decisions, and
reviews to support our
As we can see there are no essential differences between organizations monitoring
nuclear energy in different countries.
The control over nuclear technologies in Russia is achieved by organization which
controls every sphere of nuclear industry and develops laws connected with
nuclear industry. It is very important to have correct and useful laws about nuclear
energy. What are the laws monitoring nuclear energy in Russia?
Laws monitoring nuclear energy in Russia
In many countries, possessing nuclear technologies, laws, which monitor them,
were developed much earlier than nuclear technologies found their practical use. In
Russia, however, very long period there were no laws controlling management and
security (safety) standards of nuclear energy usage, protecting health and
possessing of citizens and environment from negative influence of nuclear energy.
From its appearance, nuclear industry in Russia and many other countries existed
in special mode. First of all it was created for military purposes and formed like
closed structure. The absence of laws and monitoring of nuclear energy was
because of the total secrecy. The first law connected with nuclear energy was
accepted in 1995.
Laws about nuclear energy accepted in Russia:
The law Date of acceptation Idea
“About the usage of 21 November 1995 To manage general
nuclear energy” questions about nuclear
“About radiation safety of 9 January 1996 To protect the population
population” from radiation.
“About financial support 3 April 1996 To financially support
of radiation and nuclear organizations connected
organization and objects” with the nuclear fuel
“About the punishment of 12 May 2000 To establish the main
crimes of organizations in punishment measures for
sphere of usage of nuclear crimes in sphere of illegal
energy” usage of nuclear energy.
Though it looks like there are more than enough laws helping to monitor the
current state of affairs in sphere of nuclear energy, the practice shows us that it is
not sufficient them and that further development of laws will follow.
International Atomic Energy Agency
One country can use nuclear technology in different ways and with different goals:
It can build power plants or develop and produce nuclear weapons. Because of that
there is an international independent organization, called the IAEA (International
Atomic Energy Agency), which controls the collaboration between countries,
proliferation, development, production and other aspects of managing nuclear
(International Atomic Energy Agency)
1. Date of creation:
a. It was created in 1957 correspondently to the solution of 3 December
1955, accepted by the United Nations. It’s included in the system of
the United Nations and represents every year report describing its
activity to the United Nations.
2. Spheres of activity:
a. Calls international scientific forums and conferences for discussion of
nuclear industry development.
b. Directs specialists into different countries for aid in research work.
c. Aids in transfer of nuclear materials and equipment between different
d. Fulfills control functions and controls that the assistance of agency
won’t be used for military aims.
e. Watch over the questions of safety of nuclear energy industry,
especially after the accident in Chernobyl nuclear power plant in
3. Treaties connected with nuclear energy:
a. NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) is an international treaty to
limit the spread of nuclear weapons, opened for signature on July 1,
1968. There are currently 189 countries parties to the treaty, five of
which have nuclear weapons: the United States, the United Kingdom,
France, Russia, and the People's Republic of China. Only four nations
are not signatories: India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea. India and
Pakistan both possess and have openly tested nuclear bombs. Israel
has had a policy of opacity regarding its own nuclear weapons
program. North Korea ratified the treaty, violated it, and later
b. Nuclear disarmament is the proposed dismantling of nuclear
weapons, particularly those of the United States and the Soviet Union
(later Russia) targeted on each other.
c. The right to peacefully use nuclear technology
Nuclear program of North Korea
In 1959 North Korea concluded the cooperation deals in sphere of peaceful
use of nuclear energy with the USSR and C.P.R. (Chinese Peoples'
Republic) and began the building of the YongByon research center.
In 1970-s the work on nuclear weapons began.
In 1974 PDRK (People's Democratic Republic of Korea) entered the IAEA
and asked help from C.P.R. in the matter of development of nuclear
On December 12, 1985 PDRK signed the NPT.
In 1989 Through satellite photos, the U.S. learns of new construction at a
nuclear complex near the North Korean town of YongByon
In 1990’s PDRK acquired the equipment needed for the enrichment of the
Since June 1992 the inspections of IAEA on nuclear objects of the country
began. However, the inspectors were not allowed on some objects. That led
to scandal and excess of PDRK from the NPT.
In June 1993 PDRK stopped withdrawing from the NPT, but one year later,
on June 13 1994, it left the IAEA.
On October 21, 1994 PDRK and USA signed the agreement about stopping
North Koreans nuclear program in exchange for the deliveries of petroleum
residue and promise to build in the territory of the country two atomic light-
water-cooled reactors. However, created for building of Korean reactors
international consortium KEDO did not complete the building initiated.
On December 12, 2002 PDRK officially declared the renewal of its nuclear
On January 10, 2003 PDRK officially left the NPT.
In 2003 six-party talks began.
On 10 February 2005 PDRK declared about the production of nuclear
weapons in the country.
North Korea conducted an underground nuclear explosive test on October
Because of the fact that North Korea left the NPT, the IAEA worries about
proliferation and military usage of nuclear power by PDRK. That’s why six-
party talks have been taking place since 2003.
What are six-party talks? It is the name given to a series of meetings with six
members: China, South Korea, North Korea, the USA, Russia and Japan. The aim
of these talks is to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns raised by the
North Korean nuclear weapons program. After five rounds of talks, little headway
has been made disarming North Korea.
The main points of contention are:
The construction of light water reactors
'Peaceful' use of nuclear energy
Financial restrictions / Trade normalization
'Verifiable' and 'Irreversible' disarmament
Round Date Objectives
1st August 27 - A Chairman's Summary agreed upon for a further round of talks.
round 29, 2003 No agreement between parties made.
2nd Feb 25 - A Chairman's Statement announced with seven articles, including:
round 28, 2004 o Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
o Peaceful Coexistence of Participating States, stressing the
use of mutually coordinated measures to resolve crises.
Agreement to hold the 3rd round of talks with full participation
during the second quarter of 2004.
3rd June 23 - A Chairman's Statement announced with eight articles, including:
round 25, 2004 o Reconfirming the commitment to denuclearizing the Korean
Peninsula, stressing specification of the scope and time,
interval (between steps of) and method of verification
Agreement to hold fourth round of talks in Beijing before
4th July 26 - US and DPRK cannot agree on 'peaceful' use of nuclear energy
round, Aug 7, Three-week recess of talks due to ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)
1st 2005 meeting
4th Sep 13 - Agreement on a Joint Declaration of six articles, including:
round, 19, 2005 o Verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
2nd o Observe and realize the 1992 Korean Peninsula
phase Denuclearization Declaration
o The DPRK to agree to abandon all nuclear weapons and
nuclear programs and return to the NPT as soon as possible
o However, the states still respect the DPRK's right to
peaceful use of nuclear energy as stated under the NPT
o The issue of the light-water reactors will be discussed at a
suitable time later
o The United States and the ROK to formally declare that they
have no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula
o The United States will practice non-agression towards the
o The United States will work to normalize ties with the
DPRK and by respecting each other's sovereignty, right to
o Japan will normalize relations with the DPRK through the
Pyongyang Statement by settling historical disputes.
o Promising the DPRK it will receive economic cooperation
and aid with energy through strenghtening
bilateral/multilateral economic cooperation in energy, trade
and investment. The five other members will serve as
guarantors to this condition
o The ROK will channel two million kiloWatts of power to
o The Korean Peninsula peace treaty to be negotiated
o 'Words for words'; 'actions for actions' principle to be
observed, stressing 'mutually coordinated measures'.
Agreement to hold fifth round of talks in early November, 2005.
5th Nov 9 - 11, Joint Statement issued with six points. This is essentially the
round, 2005 same as the previous round's statements, except for:
1st o Modifying the 'words for words' and 'actions for actions'
phase principle to 'commitment for commitment, action for
No agreement on when the next talks will be held, though
March 2006 looked likely at the time.
5th postponed In April 2006, the DPRK offered to resume talks if the US releases
round, recently frozen DPRK financial assets held in a bank in Macau. *
2nd o The US treats the nuclear and financial issues as separate;
phase the DPRK does not.
As we can see PDRK has already had some nuclear technologies. But there are
many countries that have no nuclear technologies but are interested in acquiring
them. These are:
In Europe: Italy, Albania, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Belarus, Estonia,
Latvia, Ireland, Turkey.
In the Middle East and North Africa: Iran, Gulf States, Yemen, Israel, Syria,
Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco.
In central and southern Africa: Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia.
In South America: Chile, Venezuela.
In central and southern Asia: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh.
In SE Asia: Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia,
But what are the reasons to develop their own nuclear technologies?
The main reasons to develop nuclear technologies are:
The desire to have nuclear weapon arsenal for defense of the country.
Usage of nuclear weapons as a political tool
Usage of nuclear energy, which is more beneficial than use fossil fuels.
Since about 2001 there has been much talk about the “nuclear renaissance”,
especially about its risks and benefits.
Benefits and risks of nuclear energy
Benefits Risks and disadvantages
Nuclear fuels produce energy It is very expensive to build new
much longer period and in larger nuclear power plants.
amounts than fossil fuels or There are risks of nuclear
renewable sources of energy accident and pollution of
(Amount of energy produced by 1 environment. But in our times
kg of uranium equal to amount of these risks are very small.
energy produced by 2 tones of There is a treat of nuclear
coal). technologies proliferation.
Nuclear power plants can be built Nuclear weapons are powerful
in distant places, where non destructive agency. Because of
sources of energy can be found. that the terrorist treat is very high.
Nuclear power plants do not
Nuclear technologies used in
Existing nuclear power plants are
So nuclear power is a serious energy source, because the accidents and terrorism
acts in the sphere of nuclear energy can lead to sad consequences. In the history of
nuclear energy were two accidents.
Chernobyl and Three Mile Island accidents
Chernobyl Three Mile Island
Date and place The Chernobyl disaster The accident occurred in
occurred at 01:23 a.m. on the TMI-2 exactly 4:00
April 26, 1986 at the a.m. on March 28, 1979.
Chernobyl Nuclear Power
Plant in Prypiat, Ukraine
within the Soviet Union.
Causes Flaws in the engineering a series of malfunctions,
design, which were mistakes, and
compensated by a strict set misinterpretations led to
of procedures; failure of the the worst nuclear accident
plant management to enforce the United States
these procedures; and finally
the decision of the engineers
to conduct a risky
experiment. They wanted to
test whether the plant's
turbine generator—from its
provide enough power to the
reactor in case of a power
shutdown. This experiment
required disconnecting the
reactor's emergency core
cooling pump and other
Consequences Officially 31 persons were The average radiation dose
reported to have been killed to people living within 10
at the reactor site by a miles of the plant was eight
combination of the millirem, and no more than
explosion and radiation 100 millirem to any single
exposure; another 174 were individual.
exposed to high doses of
radiation which resulted in
radiation sickness and long-
term illnesses. The
maximum permissible dose
of radiation for a nuclear
power operator is 5
roentgens per year and for
the rest of the population,
0.5 roentgens per year. At
the Chernobyl plant, the
levels of radiation ranged
from 1,000 to 20,000
roentgens per hour. One
British report estimates that
worldwide, the number of
persons afflicted with cancer
which can be attributed to
the Chernobyl accident will
be about 2,300. Others
argued that the number will
be much higher. In Minsk,
the rate of leukemia has
more than doubled from 41
per million in 1985 to 93 per
million in 1990.
Comparing the accidents in Chernobyl and Three Mile Island we can say that the
Chernobyl disaster is the largest civil nuclear catastrophe ever to have occurred. So
the new question appears: can we be sure in safety of our existence? Yes, we can,
because after these disasters new convention on nuclear safety was adopted.
The Convention on Nuclear Safety
When and where adopted In Vienna on 17 June 1994. The
Convention was drawn up during a
series of expert level meetings from
1992 to 1994.
Entered into force The Convention entered into force on 24
The essence The obligations of the Parties are based
to a large extent on the principles
contained in the IAEA Safety
Fundamentals document "The Safety of
Nuclear Installations". These obligations
cover for instance, siting, design,
construction, operation of nuclear
facilities, the availability of adequate
financial and human resources, the
assessment and verification of safety,
quality assurance and emergency
Another task of nuclear countries is the security of nuclear facilities.
To prevent weapons proliferation, safeguards on nuclear technology were
published in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and monitored since
1968 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Nations signing the
treaty are required to report to the IAEA what nuclear materials they hold and their
location. They agree to accept visits by IAEA auditors and inspectors to verify
independently their material reports and physically inspect the nuclear materials
concerned to confirm physical inventories of them in exchange for access to
nuclear materials and equipment on the global market.
In February, 2006, a new U.S. initiative, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
was announced - it would be an international effort to reprocess fuel in a manner
making proliferation infeasible, while making nuclear power available to
“We recognized that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, along with
international terrorism, remains the central threat to international peace and
security. Therefore, the international community must firmly respond to that
challenge and take resolute actions to curb that threat” the government of Russia
said. "Traditionally, safety of nuclear power generation has been linked to nuclear
and radiation safety and security. This means ensuring physical safety of nuclear
fuels and facilities and non-proliferation of critical technologies.” Pulikovsky said.
For discussion such questions as security and safety in Moscow the IAEA
International Conference on Effective Nuclear Regulatory Systems, “Facing Safety
and Security Challenges,” was held on February 28-March 2, 2006. [www.g8russia.ru]
The main goal is to determine the role of the state and its departments in
regulating nuclear and radiation security. The conference paid special attention to
regulators rights in this sphere. It was the first conference to discuss "nuclear
security issues that state bodies face," Pulikovsky said. [www.kremlin.ru]
The competence of state regulators includes development of federal norms and
standards for nuclear energy use, work on federal laws and control over their
enforcement. They also monitor activities at nuclear facilities, including through
inspectors, license activities in the nuclear sphere and check facilities' safety.
The first key question discussed during the conference was the management of
nuclear waste. A unique solid waste problem is spent fuel produced by nuclear
power. Highly radioactive spent fuel needs to be handled with great care and
forethought due to the long half-lives of the radioactive isotopes in the waste. In
fact, fresh spent fuel is so radioactive that less than a minute's exposure to it will
cause death. However, spent nuclear fuel becomes less radioactive over time - after
40 years, the radiation flux is 99.9% lower than it was the moment the reactor was
last shut off, although still dangerously radioactive.
The safe storage and disposal of
nuclear waste is a difficult challenge.
Because of potential harm from
radiation, spent nuclear fuel must be
stored in shielded basins of water, or in
dry storage vaults or dry cask storage
until its radioactivity decreases
naturally ("decays") to safe levels. This
can take days or thousands of years,
depending on the type of fuel. Most
waste is currently stored in temporary
storage sites, requiring constant
www.transitionculture.org maintenance, while suitable permanent
disposal methods are discussed.
Underground storage at Yucca Mountain in U.S. has been proposed as permanent
storage. See the article on the nuclear fuel cycle for more information.
Nuclear waste is not only source of radiation, but also can be used to produce
nuclear weapons. It means that the by-products of nuclear fission—the nuclear
waste generated by the plant—were to be unprotected it could be used as a
radiological weapon, colloquially known as a "dirty bomb". There have been
incidents of nuclear plant workers attempting to sell nuclear materials for this
purpose (for example, there was such an incident in Russia in 1999 where plant
workers attempted to sell 5 grams of radioactive material on the open market, and
an incident in 1993 where Russian workers were caught attempting to sell 4.5
kilograms of enriched uranium). The UN has since called upon world leaders to
improve security in order to prevent radioactive material falling into the hands of
terrorists, and such fears have been used as justifications for centralized,
permanent, and secure waste repositories and increased security along
transportation routes. [www.solarnavigator.net]
Except the treat of radiation, environment pollution there is a treat of nuclear
terrorism connected with the vulnerability of nuclear power plants and theft of
In the US, plants are surrounded by a double row of tall fences which are
electronically monitored. The plant grounds are patrolled by a sizeable force of
armed guards. The NRC's "Design Basis Threat" criteria for plants are a secret, and
so what size attacking force the plants are able to protect against is unknown.
Attack from the air is a more problematic concern. The most important barrier
against the release of radioactivity in the event of an aircraft strike is the
containment building and its missile shield.
In addition, supporters point to large studies carried out by the US Electric Power
Research Institute that tested the robustness of both reactor and waste fuel storage,
and found that they should be able to sustain a terrorist attack comparable to the
September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA. Spent fuel is usually housed inside the
plant's "protected zone" or a spent nuclear fuel shipping cask; stealing it for use in
a "dirty bomb" is extremely difficult. Exposure to the intense radiation would
almost certainly quickly incapacitate or kill any terrorists who attempt to do so.
Nuclear power plants are designed to withstand threats deemed credible at the time
of licensing. However, as weapons evolve it cannot be said unequivocably that
within the 60 year life of a plant it will not become vulnerable. In addition, the
future status of storage sites may be in doubt. Other forms of energy production are
also vulnerable to attack, such as hydroelectric dams and LNG tankers.
With many benefits, nuclear energy brings many risks. In the early period of their
existence, nuclear technologies were very dangerous, however every new
technology is dangerous for the first time, but now nuclear power becomes the
main source of energy. But we should not forget that it can be used as a nuclear
weapon - a powerful weapon of mass destruction. That’s why there are
organizations, laws, and multilateral treaties that can control the proliferation of
nuclear technologies and prevent the nuclear terrorism and accidents.