Reliable Energy Supply and Nonproliferation

The phenomenon of global warming has led to a revival of the prospects for increased nuclear energy production worldwide, yet such increased production carries with it the increased risk of proliferation. To mitigate this risk, various multinational arrangements have been proposed to provide reliable supply of nuclear fuel while at the same time discouraging the construction of national plants for nuclear enrichment and reprocessing. This article provides a brief history of some of these proposals and concludes that the likelihood of success for such schemes as effective tools for nonproliferation is not high at this time. A proposal from the World Council on Renewable Energy to expand the understanding of supplier obligations under Article IV of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to include the development of non-nuclear energy technologies for NPT parties in good standing is potentially a much better nonproliferation tool. Such an approach tracks the ideas contained in Title V of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978, which has recently received revived congressional interest.