Spencer Abraham, US Energy Secretary, stressed the importance of developing a new generation of nuclear power plants as part of a comprehensive long-term national energy policy. In a speech last month, Mr Abraham said the suicide attacks of 11 September brought Americans “face to face with our energy history”, and that security of supply is now his number one policy priority. Mr Abraham told his audience: “So long as I am in this job, I will make sure energy security is my primary concern.” Abraham said: “Technology has changed the nuclear industry. We believe expansion of nuclear power in the US is essential. New reactor designs show great promise. They are inherently safe, more efficient, and can help us move beyond the idea that nuclear power should be defined forever by the accident at Three Mile Island.

“We must judge nuclear energy on today’s reality, not the fears of those who are 20 years behind the times. We must accelerate licensing of new advanced technology reactors, and the relicensing of existing safe nuclear plants. We must develop the full array of power sources – clean coal, natural gas, oil, hydro, wind, solar and nuclear.” He said future US policy to ensure energy security would rest on three pillars: greater energy diversity; increased domestic production combined with enhanced efficiency and conservation; and a “modernised” energy infrastructure.