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THE TRUE FACTS ABOUT NUCLEAR POWER

Why it is: Unaffordable - Dangerous - Unnecessary - Bad For The Environment


NUCLEAR WEAPONS - COULD THIS BE WHY THE UK GOVERNMENT WANTS TO START THE NUCLEAR POWER INDUSTRY AGAIN?


LATEST NEWS (January 2024) confirms what STAND has been saying for decades - that nuclear weapons are the only logical reason for continuing with nuclear power, as the UK government now admits the close link. Read the full evidence here: The Guardian, 19 Jan 2024


Here in the UK, our government is using the “extremely expensive” Hinkley Point C nuclear power station (being built by the French state-owned company EDF) to cross-subsidise Britain’s nuclear weapon arsenal, as this article from the Guardian in 2017 makes clear:

 

In evidence submitted to the influential public accounts committee (PAC), which is currently investigating the nuclear plant deal, scientists from Sussex University state that the costs of the Trident programme could be “unsupportable” without “an effective subsidy from electricity consumers to military nuclear infrastructure”. 

 

Their evidence suggests that changes in the government’s policy on nuclear power in recent years will effectively allow Britain’s military nuclear industry to be supported by payments from electricity consumers. 

 

“What our research suggests is that British low-carbon energy strategies are more expensive than they need to be, in order to maintain UK military nuclear infrastructures,” said Stirling. 

 

The Hinkley Point project has been criticised for its huge cost. The French electricity company EDF is currently in the early stages of constructing the plant near Bridgwater, Somerset, in partnership with the China General Nuclear Power Group.

The Guardian

 

Most people agree that there is no justification for re-opening the UK nuclear power programme on cost or energy security needs - it is too expensive, will take too long to come on stream, is too vulnerable to physical and cyber attack and diverts money from research and development into wind, solar and tidal electricity production and the development of storage solutions. The undeniable nuclear-weapons-of mass destruction link however makes sense of it, at least in the twisted logic of mutual assured destruction. 

 

To make nuclear weapons you need enriched uranium or plutonium. The raw material for this is most easily obtained from nuclear power stations.

 

Nuclear weapons and nuclear power share many common features. For example, enriched uranium produced for nuclear power stations is also used to make nuclear weapons. Plutonium, used in nuclear weapons, is a by-product of the nuclear fuel cycle.

 

The connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons have always been a well kept secret and governments go to great lengths to keep the connection away from the public gaze. In the UK in the 50s, the nuclear power programme was used as a cover for making nuclear weapons.

 

More nuclear power stations in the world could mean the proliferation of  nuclear weapons. Because countries like the UK are promoting the expansion of nuclear power, other countries are beginning to plan for their own nuclear power programmes too.

 

But there is always the danger that countries acquiring nuclear power technology may subvert its use to develop a nuclear weapons programme. After all, the UK’s first nuclear power stations were built primarily to provide fissile material for nuclear weapons during the Cold War. 

 

In 1956, when the Queen opened Britain’s first nuclear power station, at Calder Hall in Cumbria,  the newsreel commentary described how it would produce cheap and clean electricity for everyone "too cheap to meter". This was a lie, as Calder Hall was not primarily a power station, it was built to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, the electricity being a by-product. 

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament 

 

The government is using the “extremely expensive” Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to cross-subsidise Britain’s nuclear weapon arsenal, as this article from the Guardian in 2017 makes clear:

 

In evidence submitted to the influential public accounts committee (PAC), which is currently investigating the nuclear plant deal, scientists from Sussex University state that the costs of the Trident programme could be “unsupportable” without “an effective subsidy from electricity consumers to military nuclear infrastructure”. 

 

Their evidence suggests that changes in the government’s policy on nuclear power in recent years will effectively allow Britain’s military nuclear industry to be supported by payments from electricity consumers. 

 

“What our research suggests is that British low-carbon energy strategies are more expensive than they need to be, in order to maintain UK military nuclear infrastructures,” said Stirling. 

 

The Hinkley Point project has been criticised for its huge cost. The French electricity company EDF is currently in the early stages of constructing the plant near Bridgwater, Somerset, in partnership with the China General Nuclear Power Group.

The Guardian

 

The link with the "special relationship" with United States

 

In the 60s and 70s the UK supplied the US with a great deal of enriched uranium and plutonium for them to use in their nuclear warheads. This was denied at first by the UK government of the day, but the cat was let out of the bag when a FOI request to the US revealed the extent of the nuclear agreement between the two nuclear powers. 

 

"Under the agreement 5.37 tonnes of UK-produced plutonium was sent to the US in exchange for 6.7 kg of tritium and 7.5 tonnes of HEU between 1960 and 1979. A further 470 kg of plutonium was swapped between the US and the UK for reasons that remain classified."

Wikipedia

 

The US is currently replacing thousands of their ageing nuclear warheads but needs UK weapons grade nuclear material, as nuclear power generation, deemed by the US to be prohibitively expensive, is virtually moribund in the US.

 

"The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in May 2021 that the United States will spend a total of $634 billion over the next 10 years to sustain and modernize its nuclear arsenal, which is 28 percent higher than the previous 10-year projection released in 2019." 

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

 

The campaigning organisation Kick Nuclear, in May 2018, published the following:

 

"On 5th May, a USAF Globemaster arrived at Wick airport to pick up a load of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) to be exported to the US. The load had been driven in convoy, guarded by armed officers, the 31 miles from Douneray. Since the runway at Wick is not long enough to allow a fully-fuelled Globemaster to take off, the plane has to stop off to refuel at RAF Lossiemouth on its way.

 

"This is reportedly the 5th such flight from Wick with a further six or seven planned by September next year. HEU is one of the products required to make nuclear bombs.

kicknuclear.com

 

Radioactive waste disposal and nuclear weapons

 

Surprising though it might seem, there is a link between the disposal of (as opposed to the use of) nuclear waste, and the production of nuclear weapons. The following is taken from Wikipedia:

 

"High-level waste is full of highly radioactive fission products, most of which are relatively short-lived. This is a concern since if the waste is stored, perhaps in deep geological storage, over many years the fission products decay, decreasing the radioactivity of the waste and making the plutonium easier to access. The undesirable contaminant Pu-240 decays faster than the Pu-239, and thus the quality of the bomb material increases with time (although its quantity decreases during that time as well). Thus, some have argued, as time passes, these deep storage areas have the potential to become "plutonium mines", from which material for nuclear weapons can be acquired with relatively little difficulty. Critics of the latter idea have pointed out the difficulty of recovering useful material from sealed deep storage areas makes other methods preferable. Specifically, high radioactivity and heat (80 °C in surrounding rock) greatly increase the difficulty of mining a storage area, and the enrichment methods required have high capital costs."

 Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

“Without civilian nuclear, no military nuclear, without military nuclear, no civilian nuclear.”

France’s president Emmanuel Macron speaking in 2020.

STAND accepts that he may have been talking about reactors for nuclear submarines and other war ships , but the strong link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power is well known and undeniable  - see main text of this page.

 

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Photo courtesy of CND