By Frank N. von Hippel, Matthew Bunn, Associate Professor of Public Policy; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom, Anatoli Diakov, Ming Ding, Tadahiro Katsuta, Charles McCombie, M.V. Ramana, Tatsujiro Suzuki, Susan Voss and Suyuan Yu
In the 1970s, nuclear-power boosters expected that by now nuclear power would produce perhaps 80 to 90 percent of all electrical energy globally. Today, the official high-growth projection of the Organization for Economic Co‑operation and Developments (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) estimates that nuclear power plants will generate about 20 percent of all electrical energy in 2050. Thus, nuclear power could make a significant contribution to the global electricity supply. Or it could be phased out — especially if there is another accidental or a terrorist-caused Chernobyl-scale release of radioactivity. If the spread of nuclear energy cannot be decoupled from the spread of nuclear weapons, it should be phased out.
January / February 2007
Magazine or Newspaper Article, Arms Control Today, (Letter to the Editor)
Hui Zhang provides a path-breaking technical assessment of the Korean nuclear test, publishing a comment (with co-authors Jungmin Kang and Frank von Hippel) on the test and the limits of nuclear forensics in Arms Control Today.
Using Commercial Imaging Satellites to Detect the Operation of Plutonium-Production Reactors and Gaseous-Diffusion Plants?
Journal Article, Science & Global Security, issue 3, volume 8
The operation of dedicated plutonium-production reactors and large gaseous-diffusion uranium-enrichment plants (GDPs), can be detected remotely using commercial observation-satellite imagery. Declassified Corona imagery is used to demonstrate that the new generation of commercial observation satellites with 1-meter spatial resolution will be able to detect vapor plumes inside and downwind from large operating natural-draft cooling towers. Low-resolution Landsat-5 thermal infrared images have been shown by other authors to be able to detect warm water discharges from reactors into lakes, rivers, etc. Here, the same systems are shown to be able detect the elevated temperature of the roofs of large operating GDPs. Commercial-satellite observations could therefore play an important role in increasing confidence in declarations that plutonium-production reactors and GDPs have been shut down as a result of a fissile material-production moratorium or Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.