Nuclear weapons and nuclear energy
in Curbing the spread of nuclear weapons
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Nuclear energy has peaceful applications and non-peaceful applications. The centrepiece of all political efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons lies in attempting to harmonise the proliferation of nuclear reactors with the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. What all nuclear reactors have in common is nuclear fuel, which must contain at least some uranium in the form of the isotope uranium-235 (or very much more rarely 233), or plutonium, or both. This is usually described as ‘fissile material’. This chapter is about nuclear technology and the technical interconnections between commercial and military nuclear programmes. It also discusses the spread of nuclear technology and the use to which it has been put by a number of states, both inside and outside the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, to bring them close to or even take them over the nuclear weapons threshold. Moreover, the chapter provides an overview on critical mass and nuclear bombs, the differences between the United States and its natural allies over nuclear proliferation, radioactive waste and nuclear accidents and uranium enrichment.


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