Yesterday, BPC’s Nuclear Initiative brought together leading experts from the nuclear industry, Administration, and non-proliferation community to address “Effective Approaches for U.S. Participation in a More Secure Global Nuclear Market.” The event featured Nuclear Initiative Co-Chairs Senator Pete Domenici and Dr. Pete Miller, former DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, along with General Jim Jones, BPC Co-Chair and Former National Security Advisor, and Ellen Tauscher, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
A number of countries have expressed interest in deploying commercial nuclear technology, which creates a significant economic opportunity for US industry but also a potential increased risk of nuclear proliferation. Dan Poneman, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, delivered a lunchtime keynote address and framed commerce and security not as competing objectives but as “inextricably intertwined.” Poneman recounted that he’s often asked, “Are you in favor of [nuclear] commerce or security?” He simply answers, “Yes.” He also highlighted several ways in which a robust domestic nuclear energy industry can further our country’s non-proliferation goals. Poneman emphasized the importance of US leadership not only in the commercial marketplace but in international nonproliferation organizations like the IAEA as well.
Throughout the day, the panels tackled tough issues including emerging global proliferation concerns, challenges to US exports of commercial nuclear technology and international competitiveness, and opportunities to simultaneously pursue the goals of economic growth and secure expansion of commercial nuclear power. Though there was some disagreement about the nuance of these complex issues, there was broad agreement that bipartisan cooperation is essential because the success of nuclear power and nonproliferation policies can only be measured over the long-term.
Stay tuned for additional details from the event. Over the coming months, BPC’s Nuclear Initiative will continue a series of events exploring key policy issues that will be necessary to maintain a US leadership role on nuclear power.