1. The US foreign policy wonks have an over-inflated opinion of the importance of US nuclear technology in the world market. They wrongly feel that somehow restricting the sale of such US technology will discourage nuclear weapons proliferation. Weapons proliferation has never occurred from expansion of nuclear power. Restrictions simply cripple US industry.

    Note that with all our sabre-rattling we were unable to stop North Korea from building nuclear weapons, and it’s clear that Iran won’t be stopped either. So the policy-wonks’ guilt is assuaged by trying instead to introduce such ineffective export-control efforts?

    Meanwhile Russia announces a 2-year, $28 billion investment in the global market for nuclear power. Other leaders are South Korea and China (soon to export Westinghouse AP1000s).

  2. It’s even worse than this makes out.

    Few Americans realize just how onerous US export restrictions are, particularly for technology.

    When I was working in France, I was pulled off of a project for an advanced reactor design, because the French were worried that I, as an American, would taint the technology. The concern was that, since I had worked on the development of the product, the US could try to claim that it was an “American-made” technology, and therefore it is subject to the restrictions of US export rules. In other words, the US government could say who could and could not receive the technology. Needless to say, the French didn’t like that, and I can understand why.

    Whether or not the US government would have attempted and gotten away with this is debatable, but it was enough of a concern to the French that they prohibited me from having anything to do with the work.

  3. There is too much fear now days. Everyone seems to be afraid of a long list of things and are becoming much to willing to sacrifice our liberties for the sake of an unwarranted feeling of security.

    If you feel like being morbid you can walk into crowed of people look around you and realize that in a couple hundred years you and all of those people will be dead. Time is the greatest genocide, and I think all of us realize that on some level. So then, what is the point? There are many answers to this question, but I can’t believe the point of life is to be constantly afraid of our inevitable death.

    I believe in taking rational precautions, but at some point rational precautions can give over to an irrational need for control that starts to rob the value of the very thing it’s trying to protect. Lately it feels to me like we are heading towards such a point. A point where we can’t even buy a soda that is to big, and we try to dictate to other countries how they should live their lives.

  4. US Nuclear Policy is near sighted and convoluted. It will accomplish exactly the oposite of the stated policy. In the end even the insignificant nations will say “I am Strong” because they will have nuclear weapons. This technology already flows from China, North Korea and Pakistan just to name a few. Pandora’s box has been open for 60 years and everyone knows that it can be done. The US developed the technology when no one knew if it would work. If you are South Korea and “protected under the US nuclear umbrella” and Obama wants to reduce our arsenal to <1000 weapons, how protected would you feel, and WHAT WOULD DO? This is a policy formed by politicians that "have the minds of little children".

  5. Well, all the gentlemen above are prudent in their thoughts—-the technical flow from Chinese to Pakistan ,covertly or overtly ,visiting large numbers of Pakistanis technical, certainly to up grade knowledge specially in civil nuclear energy to which Americans have BANNED.A day is not far off, they will designed their own reactors without out side help. Iran and other countries are beneficeries. What are the gains . Americans Gurus excepting or their policy makers. A narrow approach.

  6. There is another risk that James Conca is addressing in one of his recent and yet again well thought out article.

    It is a consequence of excessive regulation and its impact on morale of nuclear plants employees. Recently, a few goldfish have been found swimming is low radio active water in a lemonade pitcher in a … restricted area of a nuclear plant !

    Excessive regulations causes civil disobedience. And it is happening more and more. Are we reaching a tipping point ? Gee don’t mind if I think so.

    Here is the link:


    Nuclear plant workers, stick it to the NRC !!!!

  7. I agree with everyone’s comments. Not to belabor a point, but the onerousness of NRC regulations on the commercial nuclear industry versus the libertine practices of the medical industry highlight the ridiculousness of the situation.

    Recent NRC Event Report 49032 on a tritium leak at the Catawba Nuclear Generating Station in nearby Wylie County, SC received prompt reporting from the news media throughout Charlotte, NC:


    The amount of activity released was miniscule, and unless one is in the habit of drinking muddy water on pavement as my cats are accustomed to doing, I doubt there is any cause for concern, though one would swear in listening to “news journalists” that the apocalypse were at hand. (PS, likely effect on the cats would be diarrhea in the litter box from the chemicals – not the radioactivity – in the water.)

    Yet another NRC Event Report, number 48999, received scant notice anywhere:


    Here a pregnant woman, on receiving I-131 treatment, was dosed with some 47 rad. To an unborn baby, that’s significant and cause for wondering whether the child would survive to term, and if he / she did, whether or not the child would be free of birth defect. Yet I couldn’t find this reported anywhere in the popular news media out in anti-nuclear California where the incident happened. A puff of radioactive steam that may have been released a year or two ago when one of the SONGS units had its primary to secondary leak was enough to bring visions of a zombie apocalypse, but a real problem in the medical industry that happened to involve radiation receives nary a raised eyebrow.

    I find the hypocrisy of the news media and their general, all-around ignorance to be not just astounding, but downright deplorable, detestable, loathsome and abhorrent (did I use enough adjectives?). They aren’t news journalists. They are sensationalists and hysteria-mongers who ignore real problems and make mountains out of mole-hills. The Catawba tritium leak is nothing. A pregnant woman being dosed with 47 rad is significant. Take Dr. Gary Kao of the Veterans Administration who for years misused radiation and radioactive sources in medical treatments, and who got banned by the NRC from any radiation-related work:


    He is all ignored by the news media, yet Andrew Siezmasko (did I spell his name right?) and the Davis Besse RPV head degradation event continues to be dredged for all it’s worth in any nuclear discussion in the news media in Ohio.

    This is a perverted and perverse and deliberate and malicious (OK, too many adjectives again) prejudice against anything related to nuclear power. Proliferation of weapons-grade fuel is a red herring. That can’t happen with a commercial reactor and is just one more excuse to damn the industry and maintain ascendency to fossil fuel providers. Sorry, folks, but this stuff quite frankly makes me mad (not just angry, but mad). When news journalists say they respect and revere science, but then can’t tell the difference between a meter and miter (which is that funny hat that my Bishop and the Pope wear), then it’s time to stop listening to the news media. Nothing they say – whether NBC and CNN on the left or Fox on the right – is to be trusted. Nothing.

    PS, on a lighter note, my greetings, Rod, to Tom G. He is a good and honest man, and I have always enjoyed working with him.

    1. Correction – please change:

      “Nothing they say – whether NRC and CNN on the left or Fox on the right – is to be trusted.”


      “Nothing they say – whether NBC and CNN on the left or Fox on the right – is to be trusted.”

      I typed too fast and didn’t self-check thoroughly. 🙁

  8. Speaking of journalism standards. Recently, CBS News anchor Pelley ripped journalists, including himself, for lack of care, rash of mistakes on the Boston marathon and Cleveland young female hostage situation.

    Usually victims of rape must not be identified. Well, too late for the Cleveland victims. Bad ethic more than bad journalism.

    Being first rather than being right. Journalists are now publishers.

    Here is the full story:


  9. Not relevant to this article, but Rod, if you have not seen it already, I think you will enjoy Robert Bryce’s latest article. I always seem to blow posting URLs but it’s at robertbryce.com.

    Anyway, a Navy captain has written an article in Strategic Studies Quarterly indicting the military’s commitment to biofuels: “Energy Insecurity: The False Promise of Liquid Biofuels.”

    He (the navy captain) writes that it is time for “leaders and policymakers to catch up with the science and adjust their energy and security strategies to match the objective facts.”

  10. To add my 2 kopeks here: I also agree with the consensus developed here. Brian’s story is fascinating and..typical. It effects no only nuclear but any high tech component that can be used in *any* military fashion. While the US is the biggest arms purveyor in the world, it’s only finished goods. Many countries developing their own indigenous military developers routinely ban the use of US tech as base components in their military applications should US strings be putted. This is de jure around the world. Even the Koreans, with their much praised export of the new 1400MW reactor had to clear part of their export license with the US… “because” … of US technology “heritage” in the design and components, though not a single component is actually made in the US.

    When Vietnam was considering nuclear energy to steer their growing economy the energy consultants involved…including the American ones…simply said “anything but American” (which included some Japanese designs) because of the 123 and other agreements that effect could effect in any way the energy sovereignty of the country in question.

    The biggest recent debate over this was with India. The biggest opposition to the 123 agreement inside India did not come from the Western supported anti-nuke NGOs but the staffs of India’s Advanced Heavy Water Reactor teams. These engineers didn’t want a thing to do with the US’s “grubby hands” over their technology; should India start using US heritage technology, then the US can control it, however minutely. Only the US pulls political strings with “licensed” technology and it’s resented across the board.

    I would agree that the entire U.S. nuclear trade regime needs to be scratched and rebuilt to facilitate the spread of peaceful nuclear technology.

    1. “I would agree that the entire U.S. nuclear trade regime needs to be scratched and rebuilt to facilitate the spread of peaceful nuclear technology.”

      The best strategy in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons lies in encouraging the peaceful use of nuclear energy. While there are certain notable exceptions because sadly certain mad-men are in power, generally nations that have secure access to low cost, pollution-free energy are not going to be as likely to want war as those who lack such resources. While not universally true, take for example, how ludicrous is hamstringing India (surely our natural ally!) from nuclear development because it hasn’t signed the non-proliferation treaty because it needed to defend itself against a nuclear-armed neighbor! And no, I have nothing against and everything for encouraging India’s neighbor, Pakistan (again, another example), to become prosperous via the same means: low cost, pollution-free electricity. People with lights on, refrigerators and air conditioners running, and all the affluence of technological life aren’t as likely to risk everything as people who are forced to live in caves and huts, and have nothing left to risk. Besides, uranium and plutonium diverted for electrical production forever make them unusable for bomb manufacturing. That’s simple common sense.

      OK, I ranted enough. My lunch break is over.

      1. For me, the cat was out of the bag in 1994 when the US decided that a technology that separates and isolates reactor poisons from used fuel leaving product that can only be used in a fast spectum reactor, was itself a bad enough idea that it belongs on the slow track.

        I give up. If at first we need to lose complete control of of Nuclear technology with respect to weapons proliferation before we can move full force in developing strong force technology, then I pray weapons proliferation happens quickly. Somehow, however, it seems to me that for a lot of people, weapons proliferation is more of an excuse to put all human development on a slow track, and keep the status-quo as long as possible.

    2. “Even the Koreans, … though not a single component is actually made in the US.”

      You’re just flat wrong about that.

        1. David –
          Here’s some publicly available details on the scope for the Barakah project:


          a couple of excerpts:

          “The total value of components and services to be provided for the UAE project by Westinghouse and other U.S. companies is estimated at about $2 billion, according to a financial package approved in September 2012 by the U.S. Export-Import Bank.”

          “Items to be supplied by Westinghouse and other U.S. companies include reactor coolant pumps, reactor components, controls, engineering services, and training.”

  11. The NRC can’t even manage its leasing obligations and are having office space issues. Big time.

    Now what is it about the gold standard when you can’t even manage your own renting space ?

    If brains were dynamite, the NRC would not have enough to blow its own nose.

    When you are that stupid, cost plus is really the way to go. Having captive customers helps.

    1. @Daniel

      The leasing issue is not an “NRC” issue. It is a Gregory Jaczko issue. He often asserted his executive powers and disregarded input from the other commissioners when it came to all decisions associated with operating the commission – like budgets and office space arrangements.

      It was also his decision making with regard to such issues as Yucca Mountain and the response to Fukushima that stymied the growth in the nuclear industry that was on the horizon before he was appointed Chairman. The office space deals were not obviously ill advised if the growth had actually proceeded as predicted following the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

      1. @ Rod,

        There a too many anachronisms to blame it all on one person.

        For example, why is it that foreign investment is still forbidden on US civil nuclear plants? That has nothing to do with Dr J. and it is bad management in this day and age.

        Why is it that the new NRC chairman has not rescinded the 50 miles evacuation zone at Fukushima ? That was the doing of Dr J but surely, is McFarlane any better?

        Why did she stop COL licensing of new reactors based on the waste confidence issue when new plants will not be faced with such a constraint for decades to come ? Why did the other commissioners go along with this nonsense?

        There is an anti nuclear culture at the NRC. It has to be shutdown.

        1. Re: foreign ownership issue: The Atomic Energy Act says, “No license may be issued to an alien or any corporation or other entity if the Commission knows or has reason to believe it is owned, controlled, or dominated by an alien, a foreign corporation, or a foreign government.”

          So if you have a problem with that, talk to your congressman & senator; there is really nothing the NRC can do about it without breaking the law.

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