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A global picture of industrial interdependencies between civil and military nuclear infrastructures
Nuclear Monitor #804 in May 2015 included a detailed critique of the many ways nuclear advocates trivialise and deny the connections between nuclear power (and the broader nuclear fuel cycle) and weapons proliferation. Since then, the arguments have been turned upside down with prominent industry insiders and lobbyists openly acknowledging power-weapons connections. This remarkable about-turn has clear origins in the crisis facing nuclear power and the perceived need to secure increased subsidies to prevent reactors closing and to build new ones. For background on these developments, see Nuclear Monitor #865 ('Nuclear lobbyist Michael Shellenberger learns to love the bomb'), #858 (''Pro-nuclear environmentalists' in denial about power/weapons connections'), #855 ('The myth of proliferation-resistant nuclear power'), #850 ('Nuclear power, weapons and 'national security''), and #849 ('James Hansen's Generation IV nuclear fallacies and fantasies').
Much of the discussion about interconnections between the civil nuclear industry and weapons proliferation focuses on the production of fissile material, in particular plutonium and highly-enriched uranium. Another set of important interconnections receive much less attention: industrial supply chains involving the wider nuclear skills, education, research, design, engineering and industrial capabilities.
These 'industrial interdependencies' are discussed in detail in this issue of Nuclear Monitor. The paper ‒ written by Andy Stirling and Phil Johnstone and published in August 2018 as a University of Sussex Science Policy Research Unit Working Paper (www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/research/swps) ‒ is an extended, updated and more fully referenced version of a chapter appearing in the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2018 (www.worldnuclearreport.org).
Thanks to Andy and Phil for their tireless work over many years drawing attention to the military dimensions of the peaceful atom, and for allowing us to print their important paper here.