One of the arguments that is often used against new nuclear power plants is that they have the potential to contribute to the spread of nuclear weapons. That charge is debatable, but what is not debatable is the fact that only nuclear reactors can permanently destroy the material that is left over once nuclear weapons are taken out of service as the result of arms control agreements.
For the past ten years, just such a weapons material destruction program has been in place in what is known as the “Megatons to Megawatts” agreement between Russia and the United States. Under this program, surplus uranium from decommissioned weapons has been blended down to make reactor fuel. The quantity is rather impressive, essentially half of all nuclear fuel consumed in the US during the past ten years has come from this program. What that means is that 1 out of every 10 kilowatt-hours of electricity produced in the US for the past ten years has been part of a wonderful effort that removed nuclear weapons material forever – once it fissions, it cannot fission again.
If you are interested in learning more about the long term destruction of nuclear weapons as fuel for nuclear reactors, please visit the recently updated information briefing from the Uranium Institute at Military Warheads as a Source of Nuclear Fuel.
The next time that you read about how new nuclear power plants should be avoided because they could contribute to the spread of nuclear weapons, you can educate the commenter about how a growing market for nuclear fuel will provide economic incentive for destroying large numbers of nuclear weapons forever.