Thank You for Your Support, and Your Patience: Letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

This issue has been a long time coming. I’ve learned so much throughout the process of producing these first two issues, and I’m excited to continue publishing The Noodle. I can’t do it alone, and we need more and more help if we want to reach an even wider audience.

I just got back from the ANS Student Conference in Gainesville, which was the first conference I’ve ever been to. I got to meet tons of amazing people from all around the country, all of them determined and driven to make a difference in the nuclear industry and the world as a whole. I’m planning on writing a more extended piece on the conference for the next issue, incorporating material from several interviews I conducted with some of the incredible people I met at the conference.

I had a great time at the conference, but I also learned two important lessons. The first, which I made one of my goals for the conference, was to listen. I’ve always had a habit of getting excited and talking over people and interrupting them, and I found that the more I listened, the more I learned. Respect is empowering, and it’s easy to be disrespectful when you don’t listen.

The second lesson I learned was one about ANS national. ANS is a wonderful organization that connects professionals across the country, but much like the nuclear industry itself, it is an old organization. The leadership of ANS recognizes this, and we were told on multiple occasions that the national organization looks to the student sections across the country for  new inspiration and ideas on how to promote the nuclear industry. Even so, I can’t help but think that ANS fails to realize just how much they need us. The leaders of ANS need our help; they have a poor social media presence, they don’t consistently interact with students outside of conferences, and they don’t always understand the difference between simply wanting to be more diverse and inclusive, and taking actions and behaving in a way that leads us to that goal.

A few years ago, ANS ramped up their social media presence, but it means nothing if we aren’t interacting with their content by liking, sharing, and commenting on their posts.  If we show that we care about what they are posting, they will start to see more value in getting executives in the society directly involved. We need more opportunities for students to make their voices heard in the national organization, by funding more students to attend conferences, putting students on executive boards, and increasing the number of professionals from each division that attend the student conference. ANS also needs to start doing more of their own nuclear advocacy, instead of relying on other organizations to do it for them. A great way to do this would be by creating a professional division for outreach, which would be a prime place to have students in high level leadership roles.

I admire the leaders of ANS national for the work they have done in their great careers, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them. But it’s time for us to take the torch. We are the future, and the future only happens if we make it a reality.

The Nuclear Noodle is a way to get more people thinking about nuclear. We want to give students a voice that can reach not only other students, but also the professionals in the industry that we need to support us by being teachers, mentors, and role models for us. Please contact us at ans.utk@gmail.com or comment on one of our articles. Share them on social media. Talk about them with your peers, your advisers, your grandma, even your dog. 

Thank you for your support,

Robert Corrigan , Editor in Chief

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Fukushima in Review

By John Wagner

This year marks the 7th anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the most impactful nuclear accident of the 21st century. The tragic triple-meltdown occurred after a 9.0 earthquake, and the resulting thirty-foot tall tsunami, cut off power to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

After the earthquake, all of the reactors on site SCRAMed, but the tsunami flooded the backup diesel generators. As a result, the operators struggled to remove decay heat from the reactors. Since the heat couldn’t be removed, three reactors suffered complete meltdowns, and a fourth reactor suffered significant damage. The excess heat also caused damage to fuel cladding, causing two hydrogen gas explosions that greatly damaged two of the reactors.

According to the World Nuclear Association, the Fukushima Daiichi disaster released a large dose of radiation into the surrounding environment, with one location 20 km from the site showing .266 mSv/day. In normal conditions the average person would receive .008 mSv/day from natural background radiation. 160,000 people were evacuated from a large area surrounding the plant, but no immediate illnesses or deaths were caused by the radiation release.

Image: Map depicting the evacuation zones surrounding Fukushima

Unlike Chernobyl, where the USSR decided to contain and abandon the core, the Japanese authorities decided to actively cleanup the site of the Fukushima accident. As reported by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, most sites around the reactors have reduced radiation levels by around 75% compared to their peak values. Japan has even developed new filtration techniques to help remove contaminants from the water on site so that it could be diluted and released back into the ocean. Called The Modular Detritiation System, it is the first economical filter system of its kind.

In addition, Japan is working on new kinds of radiation resistant robots that can find and cleanup the three collapsed cores. While the cleanup process will most likely take a few more decades, Japan is constantly moving towards its goal of a complete cleanup.

Photo: Submersible robot ; Credit:Ko Sasaki, New York Times

The International Atomic Energy Agency is a big part of Japan’s cleanup efforts. Right after the disaster, the IAEA sent a team to the Fukushima Daiichi site, where they collected vast amounts of data, including the statuses of reactors one through four. This not only helped Japan with potential cleanup solutions but it also makes sure the international community can learn from Japan’s experiences and efforts to make all current and future reactors safer.

After Fukushima, many countries decided to review their nuclear industry. At a time when global reinvestment in the technology seemed likely, there was instead an international pause. Japan shut down all but 4 of the 54 reactors that were once online before the accident, and while many of these reactors have or will come back online, some will be permanently shut down and decommissioned. Germany even decided to phase out their nuclear power industry completely by 2021, shutting down 8 reactors immediately after the accident. 

In the wake of Fukushima, The European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group conducted an extensive review of all of its reactors and concluded that they needed to make improvements. These improvements were announced by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators group on April 26th, 2012, included conducting stress test simulations on reactors to see what happens when they are pushed beyond their design basis. They also concluded that more intensive regular safety checks were necessary, along with regular testing of containment vessels. All European reactors now have additional procedures to avoid or limit damage to their surrounding environment in case of release. The entire recommendation report was published on their website and can be found here.

In response to these announcements, The Nuclear Regulatory Commision ordered 100 million dollars be spent on upgrades to the United States nuclear fleet. These consisted of three Orders necessary for safety of the United States fleet. First: make  sure all reactor plants have the necessary equipment to cool the core in case of disaster, things such as water pumps, generators and large backup batteries. Second: put additional instruments in used fuel ponds in order to measure temperature and cooling water level. This helps notify operators better about the conditions of the pools. Third: 33 BWRs needed improved containment to provide more protection in case of large natural disasters. The harder containment decreases the chances that radiological release occurs, making potential cleanup and decontamination efforts much more feasible. 

In addition to these upgrades, the United States also added 6 sites around the nation with additional equipment that can be taken to an American Fukushima-like situation. These sites are emergency response centers and can get equipment to their regional reactors in under a day. The entire order can be found here.

Even seven years later, the global nuclear industry still feels the impact of Fukushima. In 2011, many believed that the world was on the cusp of a nuclear renaissance, which would be an important step in fighting global climate change. The world needs nuclear energy now more than ever, and fear of another Fukushima is a huge barrier that keeps the world from deploying the technology it needs to recover from a century of fossil fuels. Yet, while the nuclear industry has stalled in many countries (among them Germany and the United States) other countries like China and India have steadily been investing more in nuclear power, giving the industry hope for a future where nuclear plays a much larger role on the global stage.

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Putin’s Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly: Need for Fear?

By Luke Seifert

On March 1st, 2018, Russian president Vladimir Putin gave his presidential address to the Russian Federal Assembly. The speech was focused on two main topics: the development of Russia and its people, and Russian national security. Specifically, Putin spent much of his speech discussing advances Russia has made in nuclear weaponry.

A CGI Video showing the weapons Putin speaks about played during the speech, and at one point appeared to be depicting nuclear weapon usage on the United States. It has yet to be confirmed whether this was intentional.

Photo Retrieved from Russia Today’s video of Putin’s address

According to Time Magazine and several federal officials, the Russian technological advances are not surprising and are no cause for alarm. But there are several important reasons why Putin wanted to talk about these newly developed weapons. For one, Russian presidential elections were coming up, and by showing off powerful new weaponry, Putin wanted to inspire people to vote for him by showing the progress made during his term. Furthermore, the discussed weapons also demonstrate Russia’s power and technological capabilities to the world.

More specifically, these new weapons were primarily shown to counter the U.S.’s expanding ballistic missile defense system. As Putin says in his March 1st speech, “I will say once again what we have repeatedly told our American and European partners who are NATO members: we will make the necessary efforts to neutralize the threats posed by the deployment of the US global missile defense system.

Time Magazine notes that the U.S. missile defense system is not capable of stopping a vast majority of Russian nuclear weapons if fired simultaneously. The system exists so that in the event of a rogue nation, such as North Korea, attacking the US, the US can defend itself. But Putin sees it as a threat, a means by which the U.S. can achieve first-strike capabilities without fear of Russian retaliation.

Putin likely did not demonstrate Russia’s new weapons as a threat. Rather, they’re a political rebuttal to the expanding missile defense system of the US. By showing off Russia’s new nuclear weapons, Putin implicitly argues that if the U.S. continues to expand its missile defense system, Russia will modify its new nuclear weapons to counter it.

Putin further indicates that he wants the U.S. to cease expansion of the missile defense system:

“We are not threatening anyone, not going to attack anyone or take away anything from anyone with the threat of weapons. We do not need anything. Just the opposite. I deem it necessary to emphasize (and it is very important) that Russia’s growing military power is a solid guarantee of global peace as this power preserves and will preserve strategic parity and the balance of forces in the world, which, as is known, have been and remain a key factor of international security after WWII and up to the present day.

The unveiling of the weapons is also likely in response to the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which Putin briefly mentions during the speech, stating, “…what is written is that this strategy [nuclear weapons] can be put into action in response to conventional arms attacks and even to a cyber-threat.By revealing these new nuclear weapons, Putin wants to send the U.S. a reminder that there must be a balance of forces, and that neither side should resort to using nuclear weapons.

Putin did not want to directly threaten any nation. But he did want to flex Russia’s nuclear might, and in doing so send the U.S. a clear message about how they would respond to U.S. global military presence.
(watch the video here or read the transcript here)

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Remnants of the Space Race: Nuclear Thermal Propulsion

By John Taylor

The idea of using nuclear fission to propel a ship through space dates to the Cold War, when both the United States and the Soviet Union conducted studies related to nuclear propulsion. At the time, none of these rockets ever entered space due to budget shortcomings, interests shifting away from reaching Mars, and the completion of the Apollo program. Recently, a revived interest in Mars exploration and long-distance space travel has driven NASA’s Marshal Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to enter a three-year, $18.8 million contract with BWX Technologies Inc., with the goal of advancing current concepts of nuclear thermal propulsion.

Photo: Artist’s render of theoretical interplanetary spacecraft powered by nuclear propulsion.

In a nuclear-powered rocket, fission produces an immense amount of heat that ionizes liquid hydrogen within the reactor, turning it to plasma. This plasma is guided out through a nozzle on the back end of the ship to produce thrust and propel the ship through space. The thrust produced from this reaction is more efficient than the thrust produced from typical chemical propellants, and it requires less fuel, thus lowering the weight of the craft. NASA has estimated that the nuclear thermal propulsion system can even cut the voyage time to Mars down to four months, compared to the typical six-month travel time.

BWXT, as mentioned above, is currently designing a reactor that uses low-enriched uranium as fuel as well as a ceramic metallic alloy (composed mainly of tungsten) to be used in the fuel elements. This alloy is extremely heat resistant, but it is very difficult to make since the metal components must be nearly 90 percent pure.

After their three-year contract is completed in September 2019, NASA’s Nuclear Thermal Propulsion team will determine whether the use of low-enriched uranium is feasible and cost effective. If the test results support the use of this fuel, NASA will spend a year testing the integrity and efficiency of the fuel elements. This evaluation will determine if these rockets will be used in possible voyages to Mars. These advancements in nuclear thermal propulsion could be the key to making Mars the next destination for astronauts and humankind.

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Fusion Energy in 15 Years: Advancements in Superconducting Magnets

By Charles McSwain

Fusion energy promises to supply the world with abundant clean energy by capturing the energy released by joining two nuclei. Research to make this form of energy production a viable replacement for coal has been ongoing since the 1950’s. Significant advances in fusion have been made, however, decades of research has yet to yield net energy production, and many say that fusion is “always 20 years away.” Unforeseen issues continue to make fusion more complex.

For a fusion reaction to occur, a plasma must be heated to 200 million degrees Celsius, hotter than the core of the sun. A plasma at these temperatures would melt any material it comes into contact with, so fusion experiments utilize electromagnets to suspend and confine the plasma without physically touching it. According to Dennis Whyte, director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at MIT, the key to advancing fusion is “by putting the magnet development up front.”

MIT is now collaborating with Commonwealth Fusion Systems to use Yttrium-Barium-Copper-Oxide (YBCO) superconducting electromagnets to create a compact fusion reactor capable of positive net energy production. YBCO is perfect for the job because it has the unusual characteristic of behaving as a superconductor at extremely high temperatures (rather than at extremely low temperatures like most superconducting materials). This characteristic is ideal for a fusion reactor that operates at very extreme temperatures. Additionally, because they are made in modular sections, the YBCO magnets MIT is developing are easily removed from the reactor. This allows operators to quickly replace malfunctioning or heavily irradiated magnets. Also, these magnets are much smaller (due to the compactness of the reactor design), significantly lowering the cost of creating these reactors.

MIT plans to optimize YBCO magnets over the next 3 years with $30 million from Commonwealth Fusion Systems, then create a reactor, named SPARC, that will generate 100 megawatts of heat. This prototype is meant to support research of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) currently under construction in France. MIT’s prototype is expected to produce only 1/5th of the power that ITER should be capable of, but it is also expected to be only 1/65th of the volume. This efficiency is mostly due to the superconducting magnets being four times as strong as any magnets used in current fusion experiments.

This reactor won’t put electricity on the grid,  but it will improve concepts that allow for compact, functional reactors to be built within 15 years. These functional reactors are planned to be roughly twice the size of the SPARC prototype and produce 200 megawatts of carbon-free electricity.

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Environmentalists Embrace Nuclear Energy to Fight Climate Change

By Matthew Herald

Opposition to nuclear energy has historically been high among environmentalists. Nuclear waste, the possibility of accidents, and the association with weapons has made nuclear energy an unpopular choice in the traditional green movement. However, signs of change are beginning to show in California, signifying a larger change happening throughout the world.

Photo: Michael Shellenberger gives a TED Talk arguing nuclear energy is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emission and fight climate change. (Bret Hartman, TED)

What’s causing this shift is a new generation of environmentalists who believe that climate change is the most pressing environmental issue currently facing humanity, and are aware of the advantages that nuclear offers in this area. They argue the best way to fight climate change is to invest in carbon neutral energy sources, and nuclear power plants are by far the largest and most established green power technology. Earlier this year when the California Public Utilities Commission voted to close California’s only operating nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, the president of the Commission stated, “we chart a new energy future by phasing out nuclear power here in California”. Now, some environmentalists are now hoping to bring back nuclear energy to California, as much of the energy capacity lost will soon be replaced by carbon intensive sources like natural gas.

Embarking on some of the most ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reductions of any US state, California has pledged to cut its CO2 emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. In order to meet these goals, large amounts of wind and solar energy are coming online as fossil fuel plants are retiring. Emissions have been declining over recent years, but not nearly enough to meet their goals. It’s becoming increasingly clear that in order to cut emissions, nuclear energy must play a role in the state’s future.

At the front of the pro-nuclear movement is Michael Shellenberger, an energetic environmentalist running to be the next Governor of California. He believes California needs nuclear energy to meet its emission goals and has incorporated it into his campaign platform. Shellenberger started his career as an anti-nuclear activist in the 90’s, but like many other environmentalists reconsidered the risks and rewards in light of sharply rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere. He even gave a Talk at TEDxBerlin in 2017 where he makes this argument. Shellenberger’s run for Governor as a third-party candidate is a longshot, yet it embodies the dramatic shift taking place among environmentalists.

A candidate supporting nuclear energy as a key part of their platform sends a message to environmentalists in the US and across the world: we must work together to address climate change. Nuclear energy supporters and environmentalists are banding together to support existing nuclear power plants and are calling for more to address growing energy demands. Groups that have historically been opposed to one another are increasingly finding themselves partners in a race to take action on an issue that impacts everyone.

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Making Nuclear Power Economical: Congress Passes Tax Benefits for New Nuclear

By: John Wagner

Previously untapped oil and natural gas reserves have revved up a fossil-fuel boom recently, as new drilling techniques and decreased regulation open up new parts of the world for mining. This fossil-fuel boom has pushed the prices of both natural gas and oil far below predicted levels, making fossil-fuel power plants more economical than those using renewable energy sources. In an attempt to make nuclear energy more competitive, congress recently extended the production tax credit for commercial nuclear reactors.

While this helps, the nuclear industry is still plagued with the exponential rise of power plant construction cost. In the past, the U.S.’s private sector competed with other forms of energy thanks to its fairly inexpensive operational costs. In 2011, research from The Institute for Energy estimated that operational cost for nuclear reactors was $0.02 per kilowatt hour, while natural-gas power plants sat at $0.045. While there isn’t a lot of U.S. data on the construction cost of new reactors, similar facilities in China cost about $2,440 per kilowatt hour, while newly constructed natural gas power plants run at a mere $700 per kilowatt hour.

The high upfront costs are a main reason private companies simply aren’t investing in nuclear. Congress hopes to reduce these costs by extending the production tax credit for nuclear power plants. This credit goes towards construction costs for nuclear power plants that will be on the grid after the end of 2020. These lowered taxes greatly reduce pressure on nuclear reactor construction projects and free up capital for unplanned expenses. The extension benefits several commercial reactors, particularly Vogtle reactors three and four, in addition to a proposed small modular reactor at the Idaho National Lab.

The extension of the production tax credit is critical for nuclear energy in the United States. It enables the U.S.’s power system to prepare for the inevitable increase of fossil fuel prices. Nuclear energy will continue to provide the United States with vast amounts of carbon free energy, and this production tax credit is a big step in the right direction.

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Keeping Up with the Heat: Accident Tolerant Fuel and Cladding

By: John Taylor

Almost seven years ago, disaster struck the nuclear industry when a tsunami severely damaged the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. In the wake of the accident, the global nuclear industry sought more ways to improve reactor safety in emergency situations. To improve the resiliency of its nation’s own reactors, the U.S. Department of Energy currently supports Westinghouse and the GE subsidiary Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF) to develop accident tolerant fuels (ATF).

Accident tolerant fuels can withstand a loss of coolant accident (LOCA) for a significantly larger amount of time than standard fuel designs, while also preserving and advancing fuel performance under typical reactor conditions. The goal of these programs is to enhance reactor safety by improving cladding and fuel properties (physical, chemical, and thermal), as well as reducing the leakage of fission products into the coolant stream.

One ATF design is Westinghouse’s EnCore fuel, which replaces the traditional uranium oxide pellet with silicon-based materials. According to Westinghouse, their uranium silicide pellet has a thermal conductivity 550% higher than the traditional fuel pellet, meaning that it retains less heat when coolant is lost. The EnCore fuel also has a Uranium density 17% higher than that of the traditional UO2 fuel, meaning that a reactor can have a longer fuel cycle or reduced fuel loading. Another component of the EnCore ATF is the chromium-coated zirconium cladding that is used with the uranium silicide pellets.

Westinghouse claims that their EnCore cladding lives a longer life due to its reduced oxidation and hydrogen buildup under normal operating conditions, which also contributes to its ability to withstand extended exposure to high temperatures (1300-1400 degrees Celsius). These designs are currently undergoing irradiation in test reactors at Idaho National Laboratory, and Westinghouse intends to begin manufacturing lead test rods (LTRs) this year, with the intent of putting the first rods and assemblies in reactors by 2022.

Another company involved in developing ATF is Global Nuclear Fuel. They are working alongside Southern Nuclear and Exelon Generation to test their newest fuel design. The components they have developed include a new iron-chromium-aluminum cladding, IronClad, and a coated zirconium fuel cladding, ARMOR. The ARMOR coating is a material that can be applied to any zirconium cladding to increase its resilience to debris that manages to enter the core, and both IronClad and ARMOR provide better resistance to damage from oxidation than traditional cladding.

Both cladding advancements will be implemented at Georgia Power Company’s Plant Hatch during their refueling outage this spring. Global Nuclear Fuel plans to also implement their ATF cladding at Exelon Generation’s Clinton power station in 2019.

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Professor Files Lawsuit Against Academic Critic : Why You Should Care

By: Matthew Herald

In 2015, Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson published a paper claiming the United States can transition to 100% renewable energy by the year 2050. This can be achieved, he argues, by increasing generation and storage of wind, water, and solar while simultaneously cutting coal, natural gas, and nuclear. At the time of publishing, the paper received little attention, but after receiving professional criticism Jacobson responded with an unorthodox defense: lawsuits.

After its original publishing the scholarly journal, Joule, Jacobson’s paper went largely unnoticed for nearly two years. In 2017, a group of researchers in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) noticed technical issues with the paper. Looming questions about how hydro and flexible load were modeled, the validity of the underlying assumptions supporting Jacobson’s arguments, and the the maturity of technologies he claimed were “deployable today” were unresolved. As more questions began to arise, they reached out to Jacobson for clarification. When they decided Jacobson’s explanations were unsatisfactory, they decided to make their findings public. Led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) researcher Christopher Clack, the group published an evaluation of Jacobson’s study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). This was the first major criticism of Jacobson’s paper, and it brought the issues to a wider audience.

Their evaluation states, “we find [Jacobson’s] analysis involves errors, inappropriate methods, and implausible assumptions”. Clack further critiques Jacobson’s study, stating that “many previous studies of decarbonization of electric power illustrate the difficulty of complete decarbonization… this study’s shortcomings and errors render it an unreliable guide”.

Disputes in academia are usually welcomed. They provide opportunities for open debate and discussion that results in more precise science and stronger conclusions. However, instead of meeting criticism of his paper with a technical rebuttal or justification of his model’s assumptions, Jacobson sued his critics for $10 million for damages to his reputation and called for the removal of the PNAS paper. Instead of revisiting his assumptions in response to just criticism, Jacobson chose to use litigation as a means to silence his critics.

Defamation suits like this erode the foundation on which science exists, and regardless of who wins, both sides will incur significant legal costs. Both Clack and Jacobson must hire lawyers, pay legal fees, and lose a considerable amount of valuable research time defending themselves in court.

If the Jacobson suit is allowed to proceed, it opens the doors for others to use litigation as a means to combat valid academic criticisms, instead of refuting them scientifically or re-assessing their research. A future in which facts are determined by the scientist with the best lawyers should scare anyone who cares about science. Any further progression of Jacobson’s litigation sets a dangerous precedent for the integrity of scientific inquiry.

 

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The Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review: What does it mean for international relations?

By Luke Seifert

The Trump administration recently released the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which lays out their plan for nuclear armament within the U.S. While past reviews were dedicated to reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the new policies focus on maintaining and modernizing our nuclear weapons. The report states that “It is now clear that the United States must have sufficient research, design, development, and production capacity to support the sustainment and replacement of its nuclear forces.”

There are multiple reasons for this dramatic shift in policy. One reason is that other countries continue to develop their nuclear weapons programs, even as the U.S. shrinks its own. As the latest NPR notes:

“U.S. efforts to reduce the roles and numbers of nuclear weapons, and convince other states to do the same, have included reducing the U.S. nuclear stockpile by over 85 percent since its Cold War high. Potential adversaries, however, have expanded and modernized their nuclear forces.”

The future of international nuclear armament policy is uncertain. The Trump administration must beware of expanding nuclear forces in China, Russia, and North Korea. In addition, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities will end in 2031, which would allow Iran to begin expanding its nuclear forces as well. If the US is building up its own arsenal, it may embolden Iran to do the same once the JCPOA ends.

However, the Trump administration can’t just react to potential threats. The newest NPR will affect previous international agreements. Lisbeth Gronlund writes on The Union of Concerned Scientists blog that, “While claiming that the United States ‘continues to abide by its obligations’ under the NPT [Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons], the NPR ignores the US obligation to take effective measures toward nuclear disarmament.” Considering Dr. Gronlund’s point, maybe nuclear rearmament isn’t the best idea.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is in a difficult position. Taking into account the nuclear armaments of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, the NPR suggests that expanding nuclear capabilities is the best solution, because previous attempts to dissuade other countries from expanding their nuclear arsenals, which involved the U.S. reducing its stockpiles, have been unsuccessful. But this will likely cause diplomatic negotiations with other countries concerning nuclear reduction to become more difficult. What authority does the U.S. have to tell another country to reduce its nuclear arsenal, if it’s bolstering its own? On the other hand, if the U.S. continues shrinking its nuclear arsenal, we may become unable to properly deter other countries from utilizing nuclear weapons. It remains to be seen whether the policies proposed in the NPR are successful in navigating this complex dilemma.

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