We’re not connecting the dots on nuclear energy, climate change and global security, and that will create significant challenges in this century.

In the last month, two mainstream think tanks identified how the closure of U.S. nuclear plants will make cutting carbon emissions more difficult. In a worst-case scenario, retiring nuclear plants would set back clean energy goals by 13 years.

China and other developing countries, on the other hand, see a role for nuclear power in limiting carbon emissions. Some are looking at advanced nuclear reactors that are smaller, less expensive, and easier to deploy.

These new plants will need to be effectively safeguarded to ensure their peaceful use, which will place a significant additional burden on the IAEA at mid-century. According to the New York Times, the IAEA currently has 300 inspectors monitoring nuclear activities in 180 countries, including 80 assigned to monitor the JCPOA, from which the U.S. just withdrew.

The potential denuclearization of the DPRK adds to concerns about a shortage of monitoring talent.  Former IAEA inspector, David Kay, estimated that 300 inspectors alone would be needed if there is complete denuclearization in North Korea.

Nuclear energy, climate change, and global security.  They’re linked, but we aren’t connecting the dots.


Kenneth Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security


Photo Credit: Gleb Kozenko