Plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) should not be used in the nuclear industry, according to the Nuclear Control Institute (NCI). Speaking at NCI’s 20th anniversary conference at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, president of the NCI Paul Leventhal claimed that plutonium and HEU pose a high proliferation risk. “If the nuclear industry refuses to end its love affair with plutonium, then the world may well be better off without nuclear power, and should look to alternative sources of energy and to energy conservation and efficiency measures,” he said.
Leventhal added that opposition to industrial use of plutonium and HEU did not mean that the NCI was anti-nuclear. He said: “We have worked for 20 years to de-link nuclear power and nuclear weapons by questioning the use of plutonium produced in nuclear power reactors and by seeking a halt in commerce in plutonium as well as bomb-grade uranium. The issue is more critical today than at any time in the past 20 years.” The conference, “Nuclear Power and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons”, took place amid concerns over the nation’s electricity shortages, the threat of global warming and the threat of nuclear proliferation. The nuclear industry believes that nuclear power is the answer to the energy crisis and the threat of global warming, but Leventhal took strong exception to this argument.
The NCI is a non-profit non-affiliated research and advocacy centre that monitors worldwide nuclear activities and pursues strategies to halt the spread and reverse the growth of nuclear weapons. The organisation focuses on eliminating weapons materials from civilian nuclear power and research programmes.