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Global Aspects of Nuclear Power, Energy Supply and Nuclear Disarmament

Stockholm Sweden
KTH Symposium

In 1979 the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island occurred. No human being was injured by radiation and hardly any radioactivity escaped to the environment. Yet, to many people who were fearful and sceptical of nuclear power and its waste, the accident confirmed that this form of energy generation was too dangerous and must be abandoned. Their dilemma was - and remains - that they are largely empty-handed when it comes to presenting credible alternatives to nuclear power. We can "say no to drugs" without offering alternatives. We live decidedly better without drugs than with them. But we do not live better without energy than with energy. While not in any way belittling the scope for and the desirability of energy conservation through higher efficiency, we must recognize that a high standard of living is dependent upon an abundant supply of energy. A Swede uses some 17 000 kWh electricity per year. A citizen in Bangladesh uses about 75. Development everywhere requires more electricity. It is true also for OECD countries. Although they have a stagnant or slowly increasing use of total energy, their electricity consumption increases - largely following GNP.

No credible non-fossil fuels alternatives to nuclear power: the case of Sweden

I shall focus on global questions, but let me start here in Sweden, with an outstanding record of 40 years of nuclear reactor operations, which began here at the KTH when the research reactor R1 was brought into operation by my predecessor as Director General of the IAEA, Sigvard Eklund.

In the Swedish referendum of 1980 there was, of course, behind all the three options presented an awareness of the lack of credible alternatives to nuclear power - other than fossil fuels. An option which would have proposed stopping immediately the six nuclear reactors existing then would have been too clearly unrealistic and would not have attracted a large share of the votes.

Option 3 expressed its determined opposition to nuclear power, not by proposing the immediate closing of the six nuclear power reactors, but by proposing that no further reactors should be built and that those already existing should be phased out in ten years, i.e. by 1990. Many people (38%) were either sufficiently worried about nuclear power or - less likely - sufficiently convinced about the possibility of finding viable alternatives in ten years to vote for this option.

Options 1 and 2, which together got 59% of the votes, represented a more cautious line. Nuclear power should be phased out as other sources of energy became available and with due regard to economy, employment, etc. If the proposal had stopped at that it could have meant, essentially, that nuclear power would be abandoned when something better was found. Such a proposal would not have been unreasonable, but it would not have offered enough by way of tangible promises to the voters who were concerned to see some end to the nuclear power era. So, it was also stipulated that no nuclear reactors would be built above and beyond the 12 which were either completed or under construction and, inasmuch as all reactors have a limited lifespan, it could be claimed that the nuclear power programme would come to an end when the 12 reactors ceased to operate. However, what the undertaking gained in precision it lost in reliability. The life span of reactors, to be sure, permitted a longer lead time for the development and introduction of non fossil fuel alternatives than the 10 year period of Option 3. But was it enough? When after the referendum, the Swedish Parliament decided that the outer limit was 2010, the credibility of the promise was even further in doubt.

As the years have gone by and we come closer to the year 2010 the promises of the referendum ballot and of the parliamentary decision are being tested. It is like slowly walking down to a sea of ice cold water.

It will be said by some that had we only taken a bold phase-out decision, the engineers and planners would have been compelled to make the right photovoltaic cells or windmills and that we would have managed. This is not really credible. In Sweden, as in many other countries, a lot of resources have been made available to develop new sources of energy - so far with only modest results. Today - as in 1980 - electricity in Sweden is generated mainly by hydro power, nuclear power and some fossil fuelled power. Conservation has not reduced the overall use of power. Indeed, the use of electricity is increasing in the improving economy and the need for a net import of 2.6 TWh of electricity in 1995 is predicted (by NUTEK).

The conclusion must be drawn that, under Option 3, electricity supply in Sweden would have been in serious trouble in 1990. Nearly 50% of the electricity we used then would have had to be substituted. In all likelihood a "bold" decision would not have led to the use of solar power, wind or biomass but would have forced us to generate much electricity by burning more fossil fuels, perhaps coal as in Denmark or natural gas - certainly not what Option 3 had promised. Had Option 3 prevailed in 1980, Sweden would have been in a situation somewhat similar to that of Italy after the Chernobyl accident. Following a referendum, Italy closed its three nuclear power plants and stopped the construction of two further reactors. And what is energy-deficient Italy using instead? Solar energy? Biomass? Wind power? No, more gas from North Africa and import of almost 20% of its electricity from France where three quarters of the electricity comes from nuclear power plants.

For Options 1 and 2 in the Swedish referendum the moment of truth has not yet arrived. It is clear to more and more people that the parliament deadline of 2010 chosen by parliament for terminating nuclear power and for relying on non-fossil substitutes is unrealistic. However, the lifespan of the Swedish reactors extends much further than the year 2010 and perhaps give a further 15 or more years in which to develop non-fossil fuel substitutes to nuclear power. Even with more time available for fulfilment of the phase-out promise of 1980, the credibility of this promise is diminishing.

I am not suggesting that the public's concern and anxiety about nuclear power has changed drastically despite 14 years of excellent Swedish nuclear power operations. To be sure, people have got more used to nuclear power and their concern is directed more at nuclear reactors in the East, but their confidence remains shaky. The slightest hiccup in a nuclear power plant is reported and registered. The ardour of the proponents of wind power, solar power and biomass has not diminished very much, despite the very modest progress which they have made during a period that is longer than the one they promised would be sufficient in which to substitute all Swedish nuclear power. However, 14 years after the Swedish referendum, the limited credibility which non-fossil substitutes for nuclear power had in 1980 is wearing even thinner.

No non-fossil fuel alternatives to nuclear power: the global situation

The situation globally - with allowance for some variations and for exceptions in the cases of France and the Far East - is in many respects similar to the Swedish situation. In much of the Western industrialized world, following the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the popular perception of the risks of nuclear power is such that it is difficult or impossible for governments to propose building more nuclear power plants. Opponents of nuclear power still tell us that conservation, plus development of renewable sources, will allow us to phase out nuclear power and will suffice to meet any new energy demands. As this is not true, many more combined cycle gas powered plants and more coal-fuelled plants are being built in the UK, in Germany, in Denmark, and in other countries. Conservation is proceeding everywhere for economic reasons as technology changes. To take an example, the OECD countries have saved more than 30% of total energy since the first oil price shock - to a great extent by shifting to electricity which is efficient in the end use. However, expanding energy demand mostly outpaces gains by conservation. Therefore additional supply - especially of electricity - is required. The growth of non-fossil fuelled sources is minimal in absolute terms. To take an example, in Denmark, invariably heralded as a champion of wind power, only some 3% - or 0.8 TWh - of the electricity is now wind generated. The growth of Danish coal-fuelled electricity, on the other hand, has been rapid - from 15 TWh/year in 1980 to 30 TWh/year now.

Other examples: In Austria, where a nuclear power plant was stopped after a referendum, its replacement was a coal-fired plant. In Belgium, where the government turned down the utilities' request to build another nuclear power plant, the substitute was a gas-fired plant. And in Finland, a coal-fired plant has been regarded as a plausible alternative to the additional nuclear power plant which the government had proposed and parliament turned down last year.

Many factors on the energy scene vary considerably from country to country. To take examples, in the United States, the regulatory process has lent itself to excessive interventions by opponents and this has led to very costly delays. In Japan and the Far East, the growth of demand has been and remains compelling. In Germany, much power resides in the Länder and a major political party has an anti-nuclear platform. Some other features, however, are fairly universal. I have mentioned two:

  1. The fear which a segment of public opinion has about radioactive releases from accidents at nuclear power plants and waste disposal installations;
  2. The reality that commercial renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar power or biomass, appear capable of providing only marginal contributions to the huge amounts of energy required.
  • The reality that demand for energy is expanding in most parts of the world with population growth and the quest for higher standards of living, especially in developing countries. To take electricity, it has been recently calculated - by the IEA of the OECD - that global demand may increase by 75% by the year 2010 and in Asia by as much as around 190%;
  • The reality that hydrocarbon-based energy sources, which today dominate the world's commercial energy supply, are finite. Oil and gas supplies will not last for as long as a hundred years, and prices will rise. Only coal reserves are expected to last for several hundred years;
  • The reality that although uranium, too, is a finite source, known resources could sustain a much expanded nuclear power sector. If breeder reactors were in broad use, nuclear power plants could provide an almost inexhaustible supply of power. Indeed, the energy content of 1g of plutonium is equivalent to that of 1 ton of oil. Fusion could also give almost unlimited energy supply. However, it is wise to remember that fission is an existing proven technology - fusion is not;
  • The reality that some of our most important environmental concerns are linked to our extensive and growing use of fossil fuels. I have in mind in particular fears that the increasing emission of greenhouse gases, like CO2 and methane, will accelerate global warming.

Although nuclear power will need to compete with other power sources on its own economic, safety and reliability merits, a further necessary comparison relates today to impact on health and on the environment.

The proclaimed aim to reduce emissions of CO2 - and the reality

As I said a moment ago, there is a growing concern that emissions of CO2 and methane linked to energy use may contribute to climate change. We have already seen discussions in Europe about special CO2 taxes. We have also seen that a Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted at the Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992 aiming at stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere at levels which would not interfere dangerously with the climatic system. However, the Convention is silent on the question how this is to be done. Nor did it include the proposal advocated by many that man-made greenhouse gas emissions should have returned to 1990 levels by the year 2005. Few speakers at the Rio Conference addressed the question of energy and it is curious to note that few of the many governments, international authorities and non-governmental groups deeply engaged in the question of global warming have highlighted the implications of this threat for the future global energy mix. In my view this gives a certain Alice in Wonderland character to what should be a serious public discussion.

In its authoritative report "Energy for Tomorrow's World", the World Energy Council says that the aim of early global reductions in CO2 emissions is unrealistic. In all the Council's global energy scenarios for the time up to the year 2020 - even the most optimistic - there is an increase in the use of fossil fuels and an increase in CO2 emissions. It is true that gas burning yields about half as much CO2 per energy unit generated as does coal and a switch from coal to gas should thus be advantageous. Before any such conclusion is firmly drawn, however, one would have to examine whether or not leakages connected with the transport and use of gas offset the gain in terms of greenhouse effect.

The factors which propel the world to greater energy use are not easily influenced. Population increase is one. It has been calculated that, at the time of Christ, there were 350 million people on the earth. By 1900 there were 1.5 billion. In 1990 there were 5.3 billion and in the year 2000 it is expected that there will be 6.2 billion. Thus, in the last ten years of this century, mankind is expected to increase by almost as much as it did in the one thousand nine hundred years following the birth of Christ. The additional billions which arrive in this world will need to cook their food and heat their shelters. The second most important factor leading to greater energy need is the demand for a higher standard of living. Developing countries especially will - naturally - demand that the lives of their teeming billions be made easier.

Where is all this additional energy to come from? If nuclear power were rejected and we were not to increase the use of fossil fuels for fear of more CO2 emissions we would appear, indeed, to be as empty-handed globally as we have been in Sweden after the referendum to phase out nuclear power. However, this is not what is actually happening in the world today. Globally, nuclear power is not being phased out - only stagnating. The some 430 nuclear reactors which exist in the world help us to prevent much CO2 emission. If they were to be replaced by equivalent coal plants - as was done in Austria - some 1800 million tons of CO2 would be added to the atmosphere annually, i.e. 9% of all CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. There is also no reduction globally in the use of fossil fuels and in the emissions of CO2 connected with this use. Quite to the contrary, there is a continuous increase. The OECD/IEA report on world energy outlook predicts that energy-derived CO2 emissions will increase by almost 50% by the year 2010. Thus, the rhetoric about global CO2-abatement is proceeding in one direction, and reality in another! If the fast-growing economies of Japan, the Republic of Korea, China and Taiwan (China) were not significantly expanding their nuclear sectors, the increase in the use of fossil fuels and of emissions of CO2 would, of course, be even greater. If we are seriously concerned about the CO2 emissions we should be glad that the booming Far East is fuelling an increasing part of its boom with nuclear energy. In this connection, let me give some recent figures about the Republic of Korea - South Korea:

  • nuclear power today generates about 40% of the electricity;
  • the growth of total electricity generation in the period 1987 to 1993 has averaged 8.4% per annum;
  • the installed nuclear power capacity planned for 2006 is about 20 000 MW(e) (compared to current installed capacity of 7220 MW(e)); and
  • the nuclear share of electricity to be generated in 2006 is expected to be about 73%.

Hopes for renewable energy everlasting

It is interesting - and to me disconcerting - that the very same convictions which lay behind the unrealistic contention made in 1980 that Sweden could phase out nuclear power by 1990 without increasing the use of fossil fuels now underlie global scenarios which would practically phase out both nuclear power and fossil fuels by the year 2100! The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under the chairmanship of the well known Swedish climatologist, Professor Bert Bolin, is the central official body concerned with the question of climate change. It is generally credited with respectable scientific work in assessing the risk of climate change and the causes of such change. It is also concerned, however, with evaluating mitigation response scenarios. Among the experts advising the panel in this area is Professor Tomas Johansson of the University of Lund. What possible responses are they contemplating? Under a "renewable sources scenario", which is being considered, renewable sources, including hydro, would in 2100 have a share of 83% of the world's total energy supply as compared to 6% commercial renewables - almost all hydro power - at present. As I said both fossil and nuclear power would be practically phased out. Biomass would provide 50% of world energy consumption, most of it being solid biomass used for electricity generation. One may, of course, query how meaningful such theoretical exercises are. The rapidly accelerating and dominant role of renewable energies in this scenario appears to be highly speculative and unrealistic. Today, after decades of development, new renewable sources - biomass, solar, wind and geothermal power - contribute only a fraction of a percent of the world's energy and the World Energy Council foresees for them only a very minor role even 30 years from now. One would hope that the IPCC will focus its attention on more realistic options than the "renewable sources scenario" which I have referred to.

The proponents of nuclear power are not maintaining that a rapid expansion of nuclear power alone will solve the formidable energy/environment problems. But they are of the view that these problems cannot be solved without greater use of nuclear power - which today provides some 5% of the world's total energy and some 17% of the world's electricity, a little less than hydro power.

Whatever aversion and concern a section of the public in various countries may feel about nuclear power at present it is a proven technology, is capable of much expansion, and is especially useful for the secondary energy which in particular will be in increasing demand, namely electricity - but also for heat production and perhaps desalination of sea water. Some two years ago the Club of Rome summed up the situation rather well when it said in a report - I quote: "the use of coal and oil is probably more dangerous to society, because of the carbon dioxide they produce, than nuclear energy. There are therefore strong arguments for keeping the nuclear option open and for the development of fast breeders ...".

What can and should be done to keep the nuclear option open and used?

How to keep the nuclear power option open?

A first requirement is public discussion with active participation by scientists and engineers. There is a certain risk that political parties and governments which are positive or at least open to the nuclear power option remain silent on the issue for fear of alienating voters in the short term thereby leaving discussion to vocal anti-nuclear groups. This could lead to the unfortunate result of the option being unavailable one day, when it might be needed to meet compelling demands for additional non-fossil-fuel based additional power capacity. Improved education in schools about radiation and nuclear physics is also important to ensure that, in the future, radiation is regarded as a natural physical phenomenon and not as something mystic or evil.

Safety of nuclear power

For the near and intermediate future, of course, an important requirement is to ensure the consistently good operation of existing nuclear power plants. Much has been attained in this sphere in the last ten years. Because of better maintenance and management nuclear power reactors now, by and large, have fewer unplanned stoppages than earlier and their personnel receives less dosage of radiation. The aim - especially after the Chernobyl accident - is to ensure respect for a nuclear safety culture everywhere in the world. This year we expect that an international convention on the safety of nuclear power plants will be finalized and adopted under the auspices of the IAEA. Through the convention States around the world will bind themselves to a number of important safety principles. They will report periodically on the implementation of these principles and will have to accept peer review of their reports. Later, a similar convention - providing world-wide standards - will be elaborated on the safe management and disposal of nuclear waste - as requested by Sweden and several other States.

While we can now register over 6000 reactor years with the Chernobyl accident being the only one which has caused significant off-site radioactive releases, there is still concern that safety improvements are not taking place quickly enough in many older power reactors of Russian design. Scarcity of resources in the former Soviet Union and slow delivery of assistance from abroad are the reasons. I must, however, express sincere appreciation to the Swedish Government, Swedish authorities and Swedish utilities for active and constructive assistance to the East. These are, indeed, acts of enlightened self-interest: there is a compelling interest in ensuring that no further accident occurs.

New nuclear power technology

A second important area of activity is the further development of nuclear power technology. The nuclear recession which still prevails in many countries in the Western industrialized world does not encourage expensive investment in such development. However, we should be aware that the emergence of advanced types of reactors might do much to increase acceptability of nuclear power. When public opinion does recognize the need to expand the use of nuclear power, as I trust one day it will, it should find that technology in this field as in others has not been standing still.

Many new demands are being placed upon the next generation of reactors. Their safety should be such that no plans are needed for the emergency evacuation of people living in their vicinity. They should be economically competitive and easier to operate than present reactors. With renewed acceptance of the nuclear power option, new functions can be foreseen for nuclear energy. Regions which must now increasingly rely on the desalination of sea water could look to a new option. Heat producing reactors could have wide industrial use and reactors could be used for district heating in the cold regions of the world. Even the much maligned breeder reactor may one day be welcomed. It is true that the economic case for breeders is not present today - with uranium prices at a very low level, and it is true that the use of plutonium requires special security measures. However, looking toward the next century the experience that a few countries, including Japan, France and Russia, are gaining in the design and operation of breeders may turn out to be valuable - for themselves and for the world as well.

Nuclear waste disposal

The issue of waste from nuclear power still looms large in the public debate. However, the questions here are not of the same dimension as the issues of operational safety and they are likely to be of limited duration. When suitable sites have been selected in a country and appropriate installations have been built, problems are unlikely to arise. The operation of waste disposal installations is not very complicated. Nevertheless there are some matters in the area of radioactive waste which deserve particular attention. Firstly, it is known that the handling of nuclear waste in the military sector in the US and Russia has had serious deficiencies. This must be remedied over time and in a systematic way. Secondly, it is important to get on with the selection of sites which are suitable for waste disposal and, in doing so, to consult local population. The experience of several countries, including Sweden and France, shows that public acceptance is by no means unattainable provided that full information is given and the potential benefits to local communities are clearly explained. I note particularly the important and positive decision last December by the Swedish Government on the SKB research development programme leading to the construction of a deep underground demonstration repository for the disposal of spent fuel. The third point I want to mention is that, despite the fact that there exist today fully satisfactory methods of managing and disposing of all levels of radioactive waste, it is desirable that research and development continue. Just as we may expect a new generation of power reactors offering new and positive features, new methods of waste handling may emerge which may be less costly or, perhaps, shorten the time span during which the wastes remain radioactive.

The concept of "alternative energy" has been much in fashion. We should coin the term "alternative waste". Nuclear waste is an alternative to the waste from burnt fossil fuels. If wastes from burnt fossil fuels could be managed and disposed of as safely as waste from nuclear power, our global environment would not be endangered. It is waste from burnt coal, oil and gas - not waste from nuclear power plants - that causes acid rains and greenhouse gases. These wastes are so voluminous that they cannot be contained and buried. Sites for the ultimate disposal of these wastes are not selected. Our atmosphere and the surface of our earth are the ultimate disposal sites of the wastes of burnt fossil fuels. It is to be welcomed that we have developed techniques through which we can - at a cost - remove most SO2 and NOx from the atmospheric emissions of coal and oil burning. For the huge CO2 emissions, however, there does not seem to exist any viable solution.

Reduction in the nuclear weapons arsenals

After decades of nuclear arms races, the world is beginning to descend the arms spiral. Russia and the United States have agreed to cut the number of their nuclear warheads from some 65 000 together to around 3000 each. Although even this number still represents a formidable destructive potential, it points to a decisive turning of the tide and indicates that the nuclear-weapon States no longer consider nuclear armed conflicts between themselves to be realistic. The great powers appear to feel that they have no choice in this new era but to co-operate and to bridge differences which inevitably arise. Although the Security Council of the United Nations is not immune to paralysis through a veto, common action is now routinely and sincerely sought and often achieved. This, too, augurs well for the future.

In this situation many new questions arise with a specific bearing on the nuclear sphere. A current problem is the safe dismantling of redundant nuclear warheads and the associated issues of storing, managing and eventual use or disposal of the plutonium and highly enriched uranium regarded as excess to defence requirements. It must be verified that the material does not go back to military use. President Clinton has declared that the United States will place material recovered from nuclear weapons under the control of the IAEA and we expect a considerable quantity of such material to be placed permanently under safeguards even this year. While recovered enriched uranium is expected to be transformed into low enriched uranium and made into fuel for light water reactors, there is still considerable discussion about the future of recovered plutonium: whether it is to be used in special dedicated reactors, as MOX fuel in light water reactors, or mixed with nuclear waste and disposed of as such. In either case, international verification of peaceful use and disposal of such material will be more demanding than simply verification of storage. An agreement on a "cut-off"

With a growing surplus of plutonium and highly enriched uranium connected with nuclear weapons, it is not surprising that attention is now being given to resuscitated proposals for a universal prohibition of the production of further fissionable material for use in weapons or other nuclear explosive devices - a so-called cut-off. Such a ban would prevent the dismantling of nuclear weapons being offset by any simultaneous production of fissionable material for new weapons. If universally accepted and not limited to the declared nuclear-weapon States, such a ban would additionally cap any further production of fissionable material for weapons in the so-called threshold States, i.e. in India, Pakistan and Israel. Verification of a universally accepted cut-off would require extensive efforts, because reprocessing and enrichment plants and - perhaps - all other nuclear facilities in declared nuclear-weapon States and in the three threshold States would have to be safeguarded. It seems likely that such verification function would be entrusted to the IAEA. A nuclear test ban treaty

A complete ban on nuclear testing is now being negotiated in Geneva. Its conclusion and universal acceptance would give a further powerful signal that the era of further nuclear weapon development is approaching an end. It would also give a powerful boost to the non-proliferation treaty by eliminating one inequality between non-nuclear weapon and nuclear- weapon States Party. The non-proliferation treaty

From the media and from some international public discussion, one might get the impression that as the world progresses toward nuclear disarmament the risk of a spread of nuclear weapons to further States has paradoxically been growing. The discovery that Iraq - an NPT State - was pursuing a sizeable clandestine programme for the enrichment of uranium to use in nuclear weapons was a severe shock, raising questions of whether there other clandestine programmes exist and whether guarantees can be created against such developments.

Some new risks can, indeed, be identified but so too can a number of positive developments. Let me first focus on the risks. When the NPT was concluded, the concern was that more industrialized countries might use nuclear energy for military purposes. This has not happened. Japan, Sweden and other advanced industrial nations have not sought their security in nuclear weapons. Today, however, more developing countries are reaching a technological level that might enable them to make such weapons. Iraq was secretly trying. India, Pakistan and Israel - not parties to the NPT - are deemed by most observers to have the capacity for the military use of nuclear energy. At present, an ominous question mark is attached to the DPRK which has adhered to the NPT but which - despite Security Council requests - is rejecting comprehensive and effective IAEA inspection.

Another new concern about proliferation is linked to changes in and the break-up of the former Soviet Union. Hopefully the risks identified will be short-lived and not only Kazakhstan and Belarus but also Ukraine will join the NPT and will, with appropriate economic and security arrangements, transfer any nuclear weapons on their territories to Russia. With the active co-operation of these countries the IAEA is preparing for safeguards implementation in all their nuclear facilities.

Another risk is that nuclear material, know-how and experts might trickle to States or groups potentially interested in making nuclear weapons. The response to this risk lies in strengthened regulatory control in the States of the former Soviet Union and in increased alertness against smuggling. So far, none of the many instances of smuggling which have come to the IAEA's notice has involved nuclear material in types or quantities worrying from the perspective of proliferation. But there is no room for complacency.

New risks of proliferation which I have described are counter-balanced by new commitments to non-proliferation. Argentina and Brazil have now opened their nuclear programmes to each other and to IAEA inspection. If - as we now have reason to hope - Cuba joins the Tlatelolco Treaty, the whole of Latin America could soon become a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. In Africa, South Africa has become the first State in the world to roll back from a nuclear weapon capability and to request the IAEA to observe that its weapons programme has, indeed, been terminated. If, as recently declared, Algeria adheres to the NPT, the way could soon be open to Africa becoming another nuclear-weapon-free continent.

In the Middle East, the peace process offers some hope for the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone. Indeed, it is hard to see how the peace process would be complete without a well verified nuclear-weapon-free zone or zone free of all weapons of mass destruction. The IAEA has been asked to help countries of the Middle East to explore the appropriate verification arrangements.

A special arrangement involving India and Pakistan and several other countries may also be needed as part of the efforts to free the world from military applications of nuclear energy.

It is too early to speculate on the arrangements necessary for a world in which no single nation can threaten others with the use of nuclear weapons. The genie is out of the bottle. Until the United Nations has developed as an effective security system - and we are far from that situation - the five declared nuclear-weapon States are unlikely fully to abandon their nuclear weapon capability. There is nevertheless much that can and should be done now to promote non-proliferation.

Above all, it is important that major States continue the policy of detente. Since the end of the cold war tremendous progress has been achieved but there are still areas of large scale or limited armed conflicts. Because security interests or perceptions of such interests drive arms races, including nuclear arms races, detente is the first barrier against nuclear proliferation. In this respect, perhaps we can be optimistic. We seem to be in an age in which conflicts between States are resolved through negotiated settlements - whether about territory, economics or even human rights.

A second barrier against proliferation might consist - as we have learned from failure in the case of Iraq - in more effective controls over exports of nuclear material and equipment. A third barrier might be verification arrangements so effective that they would help to deter States from any secret military uses of nuclear energy. In this regard, too, experience in Iraq has helped us to make progress. The safeguards system of the IAEA has been strengthened considerably. In the case of the DPRK it was the use of the latest techniques which enabled the IAEA to be able to sound the alarm. In that case, it is not detection and verification techniques that are in question but rather the means available for inducement and enforcement. Nevertheless, further consolidation and development must occur verifying the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under the Non- Proliferation Treaty. Greater national nuclear transparency vis-a-vis the safeguards system and full co-operation with that system could lead to even higher levels of assurance that nuclear installations subject to safeguards are being used for exclusively peaceful purposes. I am pleased to conclude on the note that the IAEA and Swedish authorities are engaged in a large-scale trial of new - hopefully more effective and economic - approaches to verification, building on new techniques, greater co-operation on the part of national authorities, short notice and no notice inspections and the maximum levels of transparency in nuclear programmes. As a Swede and as a Director General of the IAEA I am very glad to see my own country in the vanguard, both in using nuclear power and in ensuring its exclusively peaceful use.

Last update: 26 July 2017

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