- 27.1 Introduction
- 27.2 “Romantic” Phase: Early Research and Diffusion Mechanisms
- 27.3 The War and the Manhattan Project: Diffusion or Secrecy of Knowledge?
- 27.4 After the War: Monopoly or International Control?
- 27.5 The Turning Point: “Atoms for Peace,” the Supermarket of
(Dual-Use) Nuclear Technology
- 27.6 The Landscape Becomes more Complicated: Other Incentives, New Fields
- 27.7 The Establishment and Implementation (or Violation) of the Non-Proliferation Regime
- 27.8 What Changed after the Collapse of the Soviet Union and the End of the Cold War?
- 27.9 Present Problems, Perspectives, Dangers … and Hopes
- 27.10 Conclusions
It seems convenient to distinguish between cultural and technical aspects in the development of
27.2 “Romantic” Phase: Early Research and Diffusion Mechanisms
27.2.1 Deeply Innovative Features of Nuclear Science and
If the birth of
The fact that during the war the program for the construction of a nuclear weapon was progressing, not only in the US, but also in Germany and Japan, France, the UK and the USSR—showed that, for both its scientific and technical bases, the time was ripe for such a development. In fact, the war was the launch pad for a spectacular leap in scientific and technical research, built on the recasting of these sectors that had begun over the previous decade Battimelli et.al. 1984. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” was a strategy to recover from the post-1929 depression, an attempt to overcome the recurrent self-destructive overproduction crisis of the capitalist system, through a continuous renewal of industrial sectors and products. Such a strategy was reflected in the promotion of a new dynamics of the development, multiplication and specialization of scientific branches Genuth 1987 in order to sustain continuous
In this connection, it is important for our aims to remark that
27.2.2 Early Local Schools and Approaches
With regard to local factors, a great number of instances can be mentioned Malley 1979. While particle accelerators became the new frontier of nuclear research, in countries that had no chance for building such machines, fundamental results were obtained with
27.3 The War and the Manhattan Project: Diffusion or Secrecy of Knowledge?
27.3.1 Highly Coordinated Scientific Research under Military Rule
An exceptional feature was introduced in wartime in scientific and technical research, which would subsequently characterize the work of a large part of the scientific community, especially in
It must be stressed that the first large-scale application of nuclear technology was military: the “Fermi pile,” the first nuclear reactor for controlled chain reaction, was not conceived to produce power, but served as a central step in the Manhattan Project. Its purpose, in fact, was the experimental proof of the feasibility of the chain reaction, and—after plutonium was discovered by Seaborg and collaborators in 1941—to find a way to produce it in large quantities, while the process for enriching uranium was in progress. In fact, for many years after the war, only military
27.4 After the War: Monopoly or International Control?
The atomic bomb played a determinant role in post-war international politics. This was a crucial period for setting out the nature and mechanisms of transmitting and controlling the new technology in its civilian and military use: several options were actually open, and the choices and changes were determined by political and economic factors. The US trusted in a long-term monopoly on
Just one month later, the US Congress approved the “McMahon Act” on the control and management of
27.4.1 Involvement of Scientists in Political Decisions: The New Role of Science in International Relations
The increasing involvement of scientists in political decisions grew in parallel with the increasing role of science and technology as fundamental strategic factors for economic development,
27.5 The Turning Point: “Atoms for Peace,” the Supermarket of
(Dual-Use) Nuclear Technology
Not until after the Soviets had exploded their own
27.5.1 Naval Nuclear Propulsion
The federal government had invested huge funds in the development of military
Soviet work on nuclear propulsion
Nuclear propulsion has been practically limited to military ships (submarines and aircraft carriers), with the exception of three freighters and the Soviet ice-breakers, and the German nuclear research ship Otto Hahn (1968). The introduction of nuclear submarines entailed a deep change in military strategies, in particular with respect to
27.5.2 The Development of the Industrial Military Complex
In the USSR, too, a huge complex was established for the development of
27.5.3 Promotion and Diffusion of “Civilian”
With huge federal investments, the development of nuclear
Actually, the first power reactor was developed in the USSR in 1954 in Obninsk. But it was in the US that the opportunity for an international diffusion of
In fact, formal international cooperation in atomic science had to wait for the creation of the
One must recall that around 1950—after the Berlin Blockade (1948–49) and the birth of the Atlantic Alliance (1949)—a new phase of the
The rhetoric in Eisenhower’s speech can be contextualized and marks a peculiar factor in the global diffusion of nuclear technology. Recognizing that “a danger exists in the world […] shared by all,” and “the expenditure of vast sums for weapons and systems of defense can[not] guarantee absolute safety for the cities and citizens of any nation,” he proposed “to help us move out of the dark chamber of horrors into the light, to find a way by which the minds of men, the hopes of men, the souls of men everywhere, can move forward toward peace and happiness and well being.”
27.5.4 Atoms for Peace,
Dual-Use, Proliferation: An Assessment
An analysis of the features of the “Atoms for Peace” campaign is probably the main source for understanding the mechanisms of global diffusion of
The basic economic and commercial interests were supported by ideological arguments. An emblematic expression of the latter are the words uttered in 1954 by Lewis Strauss, Lilienthal’s successor as Director of the AEC:
It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy electrical energy too cheap to meter, will know of great periodic regional famines only as a matter of history, will travel effortlessly over the seas and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a life-span far longer than ours, as
disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age. This is the forecast for an age of peace. Hilgartner et.al. 1982, 44
The international campaign that was promoted was impressive, but one may legitimately question its alleged peaceful purpose, for more than one reason. It was a truly massive political and economic offensive, aimed to attract neutral or irresolute countries in the Western sphere with huge investments for the purpose of reinforcing a belt of Western-oriented countries around the Soviet Union, and demonstrating the superiority of capitalist technology.20
For such goals, the campaign relied, presumably in deliberately ambiguous terms, on the intrinsic
As a matter of fact, many countries have, at least presumably, developed secret nuclear military programs (Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Switzerland,22 South Africa, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and so on). In some cases these programs were successful23 (India, 1974, 1998; South Africa, 1975–1979; Pakistan, 1998; North Korea, 2006), in others they led to the acquisition of the complete nuclear cycle, probably not too far from the realization of a weapon: Brazil, for instance, has carried out the large-scale process of uranium enrichment without suffering the strong objections raised against Iran.24 In fact, the possession of
Moreover, the “Atoms for Peace” campaign did not limit
27.5.5 Diffusion of
The diffusion mechanisms of civilian nuclear programs, although based on almost standard designs, are difficult to synthesize in general terms, since they often followed specific local patterns in each country26 (political, economic, technical conditions, specific ambitions, and so on).
In general terms, the diffusion of nuclear technology was marked by a peculiar relationship between the center and the peripheries: locally available knowledge and resources were promoted, yet strong limitations were also imposed since the American companies maintained their control over the basic technology. The United States led the process of international diffusion, dictated the conditions, and controlled its dynamics and basic processes, in particular uranium enrichment: scant space was left to other Western countries. A limited market was conquered by the Canadian natural-uranium reactor (Candu), designed precisely for getting round the enrichment process, although it offers advantages for proliferation programs due to higher plutonium production (India, for instance, has bought such
For the Soviet Union the situation was completely different, since the diffusion of
27.6 The Landscape Becomes more Complicated: Other Incentives, New Fields
This is obviously not the place to go through all the mechanisms of diffusion of military nuclear technology. A very important aspect that cannot be tackled here was, and still is, the development of the whole system of
27.6.1 One More Leap: The Shock of Sputnik
Precisely the early development of ballistic missiles was the cause for a strong acceleration in nuclear research and development. The launch in 1957 of the first Soviet artificial satellite, the Sputnik, came as a bolt from the blue McDougall 1985: it was a tremendous shock for American public opinion and the political establishment, representing the threat that the Soviet system really could overcome the capitalist one.29 The reaction to this shock produced a huge effort in the American research, technical, and education systems to face the perceived danger. Between 1957 and 1967 federal research and development expenditures nearly quadrupled, reaching almost $15 billion Kevles 1990b, xviii.30 Without a doubt, this acceleration had deep consequences on the development and diffusion of new knowledge and
27.6.2 Foreign Science Politics and New Fields Induced by Nuclear Technology
One more aspect has played a large role in inducing the development of other scientific and technical changes, derived from or connected with
But a more subtle endeavor took place as well, which seems more meaningful for the mechanisms being studied. The premise was that “the scientists of this nation be kept currently aware of the latest advances of modern technology, in whatever nation these may occur” Berkner 195032; i.e. that the United States should never fail to appreciate an intellectual potential, in any country, that can produce fundamental results important for national welfare and security: such results must be integrated into the American system in a quick and continuous way. This concept grew along with the strategy of using science and
In this context, a stealthier project gradually emerged, of encouraging the development of new branches whose perspectives of military application were quite distant, so that truly free theoretical research could be performed: no doubt the results in such fields would help in designing new and better armaments, but this would take a long time, allowing the militaries to gradually transfer the sensitive results into the zone of secrecy:
Even if major scientific discoveries of economic and military importance were made [in Europe], America would be far more capable of taking advantage of them. Krige 2006a, 12
Under such conceptions, nuclear research itself underwent a process of institutionalization and open research in less sensitive sectors, which in any case provided more or less indirect support to the military activity in the special laboratories. Moreover, the physicists were particularly attracted by the new fields opening up that appeared even more stimulating. It was in fact acknowledged that, fortunately, there were fields of activity relevant to the AEC in which secrecy could, and must, be given up, since the possibility of immediate military application was too small in comparison with the need for further, open investigation.
Moreover, this choice also allowed the exploitation of scientific and intellectual potentials in foreign countries. The United States actually contributed to promoting advanced research in these fields in foreign countries, with the investment of local funds and resources.34 The best-known case is probably the international
These premises help in understanding the leading role of, and financial support for,
A specific remark is in order, once again, regarding the mechanisms of diffusion in the Soviet Union, where these same choices were repeated, but did not act as an impetus for development and economy in
27.7 The Establishment and Implementation (or Violation) of the Non-Proliferation Regime
The problems posed by the
The growing worries about spreading military nuclear proliferation led US President Jimmy Carter (a former nuclear engineer) to radical decisions in the 1970s—even at variance with sectors of his own administration—in order to try to put an end to plutonium production: he therefore stopped both the reprocessing of exhausted nuclear fuel, by adopting a once-through nuclear fuel option, and the development of fast
Between the late 1970s and the early 1980s the problem of tactical44 warheads deployed in Europe erupted:45 the so-called “Euromissiles crisis” once more brought the threat of a nuclear war closer Podvig 2008 and unleashed a strong peace movement explicitly demanding nuclear disarmament Evangelista 1999. The final solution to the crisis was provided by the first historical agreement on a reduction of nuclear armaments, the INF (Intermediate Nuclear Forces) Treaty, signed in 1987 by Presidents Gorbachev and Reagan, which imposed the removal of all tactical
In the meantime, around the mid-1980s, world
Fig. 27.1: Quantitative consistency of strategic and non-strategic American and Soviet/Russian arsenals of nuclear warheads, 1945–2010. (Sourced at www.fas.org/blog/ssp/2009/04/usrusnukes.php). This figure comprises active warheads, including spare warheads, but excludes those which are inactive, but still intact, and awaiting dismantling (in 1996 2,542 for US, 12,278 for Russia). The counting of non-strategic warheads is subject to major uncertainties, as is explained in the text.
27.8 What Changed after the Collapse of the Soviet Union and the End of the Cold War?
Deep changes occurred in the development and diffusion of nuclear technology after the end of the
27.8.1 Early Hopes for Nuclear Disarmament …
In fact, the collapse of the Soviet Union apparently made the deterrence role of nuclear armaments obsolete and opened up great hopes for their gradual elimination. This perspective seemed to be confirmed by several events, in spite of conflicting factors, until the second half of the 1990s. “Reduction” treaties of strategic
In 1996 the International Court of Justice established that any threat or use of
The 1995 Revision Conference of the NPT decided on the unlimited extension of the treaty, although the decision was taken at the end of inconclusive discussions, with the impossibility of assuming further binding conditions. The following 2000 Revision Conference resolved, for the first time, thirteen concrete, binding steps toward nuclear disarmament Simpson 2001. A progressive reduction of the American and Russian strategic
27.8.2 … and Subsequent Disappointments
But this positive trend was subverted toward the end of the century. The Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests (1998) were a bitter (although widely foreseeable) surprise. In 1999 the US Congress rejected the ratification of the CTBT, which as a consequence never entered into force. The US withdrew from the ABM treaty,48 and subsequently from START-II. The SORT (Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty), or Moscow treaty, established by presidents Bush and Putin in 2002, cannot be considered a substantial improvement: even though it does impose the reduction of deployed
Obviously, 9/11 caused a sharp increase in international tensions. The thirteen practical points agreed on at the 2000 Revision Conference were systematically ignored by the nuclear powers. The pace of removal (let alone elimination) of nuclear warheads and armaments was slowing down. Besides improving the simulation methods for nuclear tests, all the nuclear powers undertook systematic programs of sub-critical tests.49
27.8.3 New Doctrines and Roles for Nuclear Armaments (under the George W. Bush Administration)
The main novelty—developed chiefly under the Bush Jr. Administration, and after 9/11—was probably the radical change in the military conception of the role, and possible use, of
27.8.4 New Threats and Proliferation Dangers: Diffusion of Nuclear Technologies and Materials
These changes have brought about deep consequences for the
India’s 1974 nuclear test demonstrated that the transfer of nuclear technology for non-peaceful goals is a reality. The sensitive aspects of nuclear technology and materials exchanges then led in 1978 to the publication of Guidelines, and the establishment of the Nuclear Suppliers Group: every exporting country must verify that the receiving country subjects the imported technologies to the system of safeguards. The system has been the target of criticism, from
Nevertheless, the recent controversial
27.9 Present Problems, Perspectives, Dangers … and Hopes
The framework that is outlined briefly above holds serious challenges for the future. The new strategic context is pushing even more toward the further development of connected or collateral fields, which threaten to shape a new arms race of unprecedented dimension and complexity. I will summarize the main aspects below.53
27.9.1 Nuclear Stockpiles, Reduction Treaty, Strategies: What Are the Perspectives for Eliminating Nuclear Armaments?
In April 2009 President Barack Obama promised substantial reductions of nuclear stockpiles, reviving the future perspective of their elimination, but the year of negotiations needed for the agreement with Russia on the new START treaty, and the formulation of the new Nuclear Posture Review,54
bear witness to the deep difficulties and hurdles along this path. In fact, on a practical level, these achievements—although they have reopened direct talks between Washington and Moscow—amount to little, if any, progress. While the danger of ultimate recourse to
One more complex aspect concerns the relevance assumed by (or attributed to)
But the problem is not limited to the reduction of warheads. The most serious danger is the unprecedented leap in the military system represented by the development of missile defence systems and arms deployed in space: even smaller nuclear arsenals could be suitable to increase the efficiency of such systems. The ultimate condition for nuclear disarmament is reaching political consensus that it can be phased, transparent, verifiable, irreversible, and subject to strict and effective international control. As the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission concluded authoritatively in 2006:
So long as any state has such weapons—especially nuclear arms—others will want them. So long as any such weapons remain in any state’s arsenal, there is a high risk that they will one day be used, by design or accident. Any such use would be catastrophic.
Concrete partial steps of utmost importance could consist in the enlargement of the Nuclear Weapon Free Zones,58 above all freeing the Near East (even better, the entire Mediterranean basin, with neighboring zones) from nuclear armaments Baracca 2006.
27.9.2 Programs for Improving Nuclear Armaments
Probably the most striking contradiction is the constant progress, by all nuclear powers, of extremely expensive programs for the improvement of nuclear warheads, above all, the continued development of all the other systems and complements of nuclear armaments (launchers, submarines, bombers, and so on).59 It is no surprise that the whole military-industrial complex would appear to be the main obstacle on the path to eliminating nuclear armaments.
Research in new and related fields is taking on increasing relevance for novel developments and military applications. The most powerful computers are being built to improve the simulation of nuclear tests.60 Another case is presented by developments in laser
Some concern is also raised by the American Stockpile ‘Stewardship’ Program devised by the “Jason Division,” officially for the maintenance of existing
27.9.3 Problems with Fissile Materials and a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty
Fissile materials, and the dangers of their military use, present at least three kinds of problems, however deeply interwoven: suspension of their production, regulation of their commerce, and controls on theft and illegal exchange.
Huge deposits of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) have been accumulated in the world, almost 1,800 tons each63 (approximately 10% of plutonium has a military origin, as compared with 90% of HEU), as well as other fissile isotopes of military interest.64 This poses unprecedented and increasing problems for the control of these deposits, increasing the dangers of illicit traffic and of nuclear arms proliferation. Nowadays it is generally believed that the construction of a nuclear weapon is relatively easy for a country with standard technical means: the main problem is probably procuring the nuclear material (plutonium or HEU). North Korea, as is recalled, is probably the most significant example: having
One of the most sensitive problems at present is the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT), putting an end to the production of fissile material, but even after decades no agreement has been reached, although the main powers have in fact stopped such production.65 Several countries rightly maintain that for a FMCT to be credible it must impose on nuclear states, at least for the civilian nuclear sectors, the same verification procedures that the IAEA applies to non-nuclear states.
Concerns are raised by the at least one hundred research
The final step in fissile material control should consist in making such materials unusable for warheads, but the problem is far from solved. HEU can be diluted, but only to a limited extent, and some must be stored in waste depositories. As for civilian plutonium,66 the main share is still contained inside spent nuclear fuel; another part comes from reprocessing, or is declared surplus military material. The partial use of plutonium in mixed fuel (MOX) in light-water power reactors can be hardly be expected to solve the problem, and may raise other inconveniences Lyman 2001, unless the prospects of fourth-generation nuclear reactors should come true (see below).
27.9.4 Resumption of Civilian Nuclear Programs?
One more contradiction worth underlining is the increasing pressure all over the world for the resumption of large-scale civilian nuclear programs. As for nuclear armaments, these new programs rely on justifications quite different from those of the “Atoms for Peace” epoch. At present the main ones are the oil shortage and need to limit emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere. Apart from the increasing proliferation of dangers and waste problems, critics object that—if one takes into account the whole nuclear cycle, from uranium mining to the management of radioactive waste, and plant and mine decommissioning—several phases emit CO2: considering that the richest mines will be exhausted within a few decades, both the CO2 and the energy balances are expected to become strongly negative Storm Van Leeuwen 2008. Responding to these concerns is clearly crucial in order to evaluate the perspectives and sustainability of nuclear technology. Moreover, the possible development of nuclear production of electric power has no implication on oil dependence.
My personal opinion, which I cannot elaborate here, is that none of the (old and new) justifications for nuclear technology is unbiased, nor conclusive Gronlund et.al. 2007; Schneider et.al. 2009. The nuclear production of electricity, after its boost during the 1980s, in fact gradually peaked around 2006 and is now declining: such a decline is expected to increase in the future since, prior to the few dozen new
A few words must be dedicated to the so-called “fourth-generation”
27.9.5 Radioactive Pollution and the Health Dangers of Ionizing Radiation
Last but not least, the general problems of the radioactive pollution of the atmosphere during the nuclear era, along with the assessment of the health dangers of ionizing radiation, are in my opinion largely underestimated. This problem is extremely complex, and scientifically controversial. Although sixty-five years have passed since Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the main source of information remains the periodic revision of the data from those events. The assessment of the dangers of radiation, and of the “allowed” doses, is officially determined by the ICRP (International Commission on Radiation Protection), but its prescriptions and the very bases of its analyses are deeply criticized by independent scientists.69 The problem of low radiation doses is particularly controversial. Moreover, a serious problem of radioactive pollution in the planet’s atmosphere has been reported, originating from nuclear tests in the atmosphere, subsequently from the widespread applications of
The entire set of problems I examined synthetically poses very serious challenges for civil society, for international relations and for the scientific community, in spite of the controversial or debated aspects.
From a general point of view, I would remark that, among all
As far as the scientific approaches are concerned, it seems worth remarking on the existence of problems that can seriously bias or distort scientific and technical research. The British Association of Scientists for Social Responsibility has produced a series of studies on the dangers that military influence is wreaking on universities.73 Although devoted mainly to British universities, the conclusions of the reports have more general validity. The military involvement in the R&D of universities supports a narrow weapons-based security agenda, marginalizing both a broader approach to security—which would give much greater priority to supporting conflict prevention by helping to address the roots of conflict—and underfunding in comparison to other R&D fields that aim to tackle poverty, climate change and ill health, and thus help to provide basic security for human populations. As an example, in 2004, governments in industrialized countries spent a total of $85 billion on military R&D, but only $50 billion on R&D for health and environmental protection, and less than $1 billion on R&D for
Addressing these problems, and bringing their knowledge and consciousness to civil society, is in my opinion a crucial aspect in the perspective of eliminating the ominous dangers and the problems raised by the nuclear era. An encouraging aspect is the existence of a vibrant movement for peace and nuclear disarmament.
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Actually, it was one of the outstanding nuclear physicists of the 1930s, Merle Tuve (Lawrence’s contemporary, fellow-townsman and classmate), working at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, who refused to join the Manhattan Project, developing during wartime the proximity fuse instead. But after the war he openly opposed Big Science, ultimately “[leaving] nuclear physics when it turned from a sport into a business.” One may add that European physicists visiting Lawrence’s Berkeley laboratory during the late 1930s; other scientists (like the biologist Jacque Monod for other laboratories in 1946) felt similarly perplexed about pursuing scientific goals in the face of such dimensions and levels of organization. See, for example, Heilbron and Seidel 1989, 238–252, 350–352; Gaudillière 2002.
Although Fermi correctly interpreted most of the results of his group, only the assumption of transuranic elements was not right, but neither was it fully wrong, as was shown later.
See Meitner and Frisch 1939; Frisch 1979; Lewin Sime 1996; Sánchez Ron 2000, 245 ff.. This circumstance offers occasion to remark on the monopoly of male scientists in the development and transmission of scientific knowledge. It would be interesting to investigate the possible consequences of this factor on the kinds of fields, knowledge and applications that were developed, but that goes beyond the scope of this paper.
In the case of nuclear technology, one can conclude that the bomb would have been built in any case. Without the war, however, it could have required perhaps twenty years, during which research in the field could have led to somewhat different choices, developments and results.
A Wall Street businessman charged by Truman with the mission of presenting the proposal to the UN, Baruch modified the plan and presented it with conditions that were not acceptable to the Soviets. The complete text of the plan can be found at: http://www.atomicarchive.com/Docs/Deterrence/BaruchPlan.shtml. As a subsequent authoritative pledge for “full mutual openness” in the flow of atomic information as a means of reducing “distrust and anxiety” between the superpowers, it is worth recalling Niels Bohr’s famous Open Letter to the United Nations of June 1950 Bohr 1950.
It is noteworthy that at the end of the 1940s, the first nuclear engineering technical schools were established and open to foreign students (Oak Ridge, MIT, Berkeley). At the same time a work was published about the Allied World War II effort to develop the atomic bomb, the Manhattan Project Smyth 1945; also the Field Information Agency, Technical (FIAT) Report was written Bothe and Flügge 1948.
Los Alamos, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore: note that the last of these was established in 1952 by the above-mentioned inventor of the cyclotron, Ernest O. Lawrence, although the decisive force behind this project was Edward Teller.
See, for instance: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/russia/arsenal/structure.html.
See, for instance, Olgaard 1996. For a list of sunken nuclear submarines, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sunken_nuclear_submarines; for the US: http://www.lutins.org/nukes.htmlsubs; for the USSR/Russia: http://spb.org.ru/bellona/ehome/russia/nfl/nfl8.htm.
As General McArthur explicitly requested during the Korean War, 1950–53; nevertheless, massive use of napalm caused more than one million victims and the destruction of practically all North Korean cities.
In the words of Rob Edwards 1996: “Switzerland maintained the option to develop its own nuclear weapons until 1988, according to a detailed account released by the Swiss government. The country’s atomic bomb program, which ran for forty-three years, included a secret stockpile of uranium, an attempt to buy weapons-grade plutonium and plans for 400 nuclear warheads.”
Some basic references are the following. For India: Abraham 1998; Perkovich 2001. For South Africa: Albright 1994; Liberman 2001; Purkitt and Burgess 2005, chap. 3. For Pakistan: Ahmed 1999. Some peculiar mechanisms underlying the processes of nuclear proliferation can be understood by keeping in mind that for purely political reasons—a stable white South Africa as a barrier against spreading Marxism in Africa, and Pakistani help against the Soviet war in Afghanistan, respectively—the Department of State was willing to blur intelligence on the military programs in the two countries, and the support they were receiving from several countries. See, for example, Gallucci 2005; cited in Krige 2006b, 12 and fn. 32.
Two international workshops on these aspects were held recently in Barcelona, Spain, at the University Pompeu Fabra: A Comparative Study of European Energy Programs, 5–6 December 2008; and A Comparative Study of European Nuclear Energy Programs from the 1940s until the 1970s, 3–5 December 2009.
See Schneider 2009; Schneider et.al. 2009. The power of nuclear plants cannot be easily regulated: in order to cope with the peak demand for electric power, France produces a surplus of electricity, which in standard conditions it sells at very low prices, at the cost of inefficiencies and waste; under exceptional weather conditions it purchases the extra power it needs at high prices. One should further add a point that is anything but marginal for an evaluation of nuclear technology: since nuclear plants produce only electric power, which is generally less than 20% of total final energy consumption, France is no less dependent on oil than other less “nuclearized” countries.
The 1955 Geneva “Atoms for Peace” conference had already shown to the most attentive people the high level already reached by the Soviet nuclear scientists. In 1954 the Soviet Union produced about twice as many Ph.D.s in the sciences as did the United States, probably of comparable quality.
This elitist group of scientists (named after the mythical Greek hero), including several Nobel laureates, was created in 1959. It meets every summer and freely elaborates on problems related to national security, defense and arms control, posed by the Pentagon, the Department of Energy and other federal agencies. Their reports, most of them classified, often directly influence national policy. The role of the Jason Division was particularly remarkable under Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, when its suggestions determined military decisions during the Vietnam war, but it is still influencing basic decisions about nuclear armaments.
Of course, helping rebuild European physics was not without risks: there were fears of a resurgence of German militarism and nationalism, and there were worries of security leaks to the Soviet Union. For an overview of the German problem see, for instance Krige 2006a, chap. 2. The final solution came with the NATO treaty, and on the scientific plane with the establishment of CERN.
Reservations have been raised about the purely peaceful implications of the research performed and the results obtained at CERN. See, for example, Grinevald et.al. 1984.
As a personal recollection, in Italy fields with more applicative potentialities, such as solid-state physics, were strongly discriminated against in post-war decades in favour of high-energy physics. A critical sociological and methodological analysis of research organization and practice in this field up to the 1970s was performed in Baracca and Bergia 1975.
Actually, the NPT is quite an asymmetrical treaty, preventing non-nuclear states from going nuclear through an international system of inspections and safeguards performed by the IAEA, but not providing stringent measures to impose nuclear disarmament on nuclear states. Such an asymmetry between “haves” and “have-nots,” and the subsequent enduring polemics, have prevented the quinquennial Revision Conferences of the NPT from achieving substantial results on the path toward the total elimination of nuclear armaments.
Only recently were the documents related to the Carter Administration declassified, so full analyses will appear in the coming years. In the meantime, see a detailed preliminary analysis in Tiseo 2009; moreover, Joseph Nye, the president’s advisor on nuclear matters Nye 1981. See also Donnelly 1979; Rana 1980; Potter 1982; Barrow 1998.
The distinction between strategic and tactical nuclear weapons is neither official nor accepted by all states (the USSR/Russia prefers to refer instead to sub-strategic weapons). The latter usually have lower explosive power and shorter ranges, but principally tactical military targets.
Two circumstances deserve mention in this context. On a general footing, the treaty imposed only the removal of intermediate-range weapons, without any obligation for dismantling or keeping track of them: as a consequence, counting how many tactical warheads still exist is one of the main problems presented by today’s nuclear arsenals (see below). A relevant historical aspect is that recently declassified Soviet documents show that in the December 1988 New York meeting between Presidents Gorbachev and Reagan, the former was ready to proceed in the short term with the total elimination of nuclear armaments Savranskaya and Blanton 2008; but the American president-elect participating in the meeting, George H.W. Bush, asked for more time to examine the problem, so this opportunity was lost.
A table with the annual quantitative development of the American, Soviet/Russian, French, British and Chinese arsenals is given by: http://nrdc.org/nuclear/nudb/datab19.asp.
This was a fundamental treaty (Anti-Ballistic Missile) for the balance of nuclear forces, limiting to two the number of missile defense systems that each block could deploy in order to prevent strategic superiority.
A complex class of tests in which no stable chain reaction is triggered. Complete nuclear tests no longer seem so indispensable, neither for verifying the operational status of the stockpiles, nor for designing or improving bombs Garwin 1995, as compared with partial tests in which specific parts of the weapon are tested Hippel 1996; Drell et.al. 1997; Younger 2000.
Up to 2002 the IAEA had listed 181 confirmed accidents concerning illegal trafficking in nuclear materials, including materials usable for bombs, eighteen of which concerned High Enriched Uranium (HEU) or plutonium (more than half during 1993–1995 and the remainder during 1999–2002) IAEA 2002; see also, Information on Nuclear Smuggling Incidents: http://atomicarchive.com/Almanac/Smuggling.shtml; and the impressive sequence documented by the US Congress, 1996 Congressional Hearings Intelligence and Security, Chronology of Nuclear Smuggling Incidents: http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1996_hr/s960320c.htm.
The agreement met with strong resistance, even in India. Resistance was also manifested by several countries inside the Nuclear Suppliers Group (Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland), and was not overcome until September 2008 in the face of strong pressure from Washington and Paris. Authoritative experts claim that the agreement does not forbid the sale of potentially military technologies and materials, let alone the supply of uranium, implicitly permitting the use of India’s limited stocks (it should suffice to consider that the IAEA will be allowed to inspect only civilian plants in India, not the military ones). See Ahlström 2006, app.13B; the agreement is discussed in detail in Kyle 2008.
Updated information can be found on-line in the “Nuclear Notebook” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and in the SIPRI Yearbook Yearbook 2010; additional reports are published on the FAS Strategic Security Blog. For a general assessment, obviously limited to the Bush era, see Cirincione et.al. 2005.
The Nuclear Free Zones already established cover Latin America and the Caribbean, South Pacific, Southeast Asia and Africa. See, for example, “Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) At a Glance,” http://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/nwfz.
One concrete example should suffice concerning probably the most futile of the nuclear stockpiles (if any can be considered useful). Recently announced plans to replace the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system have been estimated to cost about £15–20 billion at 2006/2007 prices, not including running costs Defence 2006. The new coalition British Government is critically revising this choice. The Obama administration is seeking more than $5 billion in additional funding over five years to sustain the US nuclear complex and deterrent. The overall cost of the Stewardship Program for nuclear weapons in the US greatly exceeds the average budget for nuclear weapons during the Cold War.
The most powerful to date is Road Runner, with 1-petaflop capacity ( operations per second), developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. But France is building a 60-teraflop computer.
For general information on uranium enrichment see, for example, “Uranium Enrichment”: http://nrc.gov/materials/fuel-cycle-fac/ur-enrichment.html; “Uranium Enrichment Techniques” http://globalsecurity.org/wmd/intro/u-enrichment.htm.
In order to manufacture an “implosion” warhead designed sufficiently well, 4 kg of plutonium are potentially enough (the dimension of a beer can), or a triple quantity of HEU; a simpler warhead with the “gun” mechanism can be made with only HEU, not plutonium, and needs around 50 kg Bunn et.al. 2002.
“First law efficiency” is the ratio of the useful (electric) energy output to the total energy developed, as heat, by the chain reaction in the core. “Second law efficiency” is a completely different parameter, which takes into account the respective thermodynamic qualities of the input and output energies, related to their temperatures. See, for example, Gilliland 1978; Wikipedia 2010. Considered as a thermodynamic engine, as it actually is, a nuclear reactor is an external combustion engine and could never become an internal combustion engine.
It is interesting to recall, however, that the scientific awareness of the damage to health and the environment from ionizing radiations and nuclear tests goes back to wartime research, but was hidden from public opinion. In 1943 the scientists Conant, Compton and Urey sent the director of the Manhattan Project, General Groves, a memorandum, held secret at that time, on the “Use of radioactive materials as military devices”: http://mindfully.org/Nucs/Groves-Memo-Manhattan30oct43a.htm. This document recommended their use in the battlefield, specifying that the thin radioactive particles would penetrate every gasmask. For nuclear tests, too, it is remarkable that the Soviet scientist Sakharov estimated back in 1958 that, for each megaton of nuclear explosive power in the atmosphere, even at low doses, almost 10,000 persons would suffer from cancers, genetic mutations and other illnesses Sakharov 1958.
See, for example, Sternglass 1981; Sternglass 2009; Bertell 1999; Busby et.al. 2003; Mangano et.al. 2003; Moret 2003; Baverstock 2005; Naruke et.al. 2009, suggesting the presence of a late effect of A-bomb radiation, which may indicate a predisposition to cancer. For the problem of depleted uranium, see Bertell 2006.