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Ukraine Crisis Highlights Security Needs Of Civilian Nuclear Power

[[Ed – “a secure environment for the proliferation of nuclear energy.”? Pigs might fly?]

Ariel Cohen, Forbes, 16 Dec 22,

On November 27-28 a conference in Paris addressed a broad spectrum of challenges humanity is facing. Renowned thinkers, including Nuriel Roubini and Jacob Frenkel, the former Chairman of JP Morgan International, and three central bankers from Iceland, Tunisia, and Armenia, warned about inflation and the growing mountain of debt threatening the global economy. The panel at which this author addressed civilian nuclear security was organized by Dialogue of the Continents, a project of the Astana Club, the brainchild of the Nazarbayev Foundation. The panel was chaired by the veteran nuclear policy expert Ambassador Kairat Abusseitov, the former First Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan.

Today the planet shudders at the prospect of Russia’s first use of nuclear weapons and its military attacks on Ukrainian nuclear reactors. The world faced nuclear crises before. On October 27th, 1962 Vasili Arkhipov, a former Vice Admiral in the Soviet Navy, prevented a nuclear war when he countermanded the orders of two other officers and prevented a nuclear attack against the US Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In September 1983 Soviet Airforce Colonel Stanislav Petrov manually overrode a missile launch system that erroneously detected an American attack. Two months later in November 1983 the NATO military exercise Able Archer almost triggered World War III when the Soviets believed it to be a real attack. In 1995 a Norwegian weather missile almost triggered a Russian massive strike on the U.S., which President Yeltsin canceled.

In every instance, nuclear war was prevented by the judgment of individuals where systems had failed. This was possible as adversarial powers recognized the “rules of the game” and created an atmosphere of cooperation to avoid nuclear confrontation amidst other profound disagreements. 

That atmosphere is gone, and the next time a Russian alert system goes off we may not have a Colonel Petrov to save us. And it won’t be the ballistic missiles that may be the cause of a massive nuclear disaster.

International law explicitly provides for the immunity of nuclear power plants during war. There are even measures that specifically plan for their safety. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for instance has promulgated 16 legally binding conventions rand protocols under the international legal framework for nuclear security to prevent, detect and respond to threats to nuclear security within one state. Nevertheless, the international community has proven unable to stymy Russian actions [and Ukrainian] around Chernobyl and the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plants that amount to nuclear blackmail and flagrantly violate these laws.

Enforcing the existing international law is easier said than done. International law presupposes an agreement between state actors, which is sorely lacking today. Calling counter-terrorism instruments into action requires UN approval, created by an ad hoc committee……………..

Being a nuclear state under the non-proliferation treaty Russia is under no obligation to place the Zaporizhzhia plant under IAEA safeguards and given the likelihood that it will not recognize that the plant comes under Ukraine’s comprehensive safeguards agreement, IAEA may find access to the plant completely denied next fall.

This is not just a Russian or Ukrainian problem; this is an emerging structural problem of the international energy security system that will reoccur if nothing is done now……………………………………. The future ubiquity of civilian nuclear power means that currently lacking international frameworks must be overhauled – or civilian nuclear power would be un-investable and too risky.

…………….  A false sense of security after the Cold War has dangerously numbed many to the existential threat that nuclear weapons represent, with polls repeatedly showing an alarming lack of concern towards these tools of extinction………………………………………………. more


December 18, 2022 - Posted by | safety, Ukraine

1 Comment »

  1. I hope this conflict ends soon. and global economic growth returned to normal

    Comment by gederedita | December 20, 2022 | Reply

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