Term Paper: Atomic Bomb and Nuclear Power

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[. . .] "Even when the planned cleanup has been carried out, billions of dollars and many years will be needed to address areas that are not in the cleanup plan." (Unavailable, 2000)

And the military was still up to their dirty work testing the might and killing power of the source. "The United States sets off first underground nuclear test in a mountain tunnel in the remote desert 100 miles from Las Vegas." (Schoenherr, 2003) Because the potential threat of misuse was so strong, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was formed. The International Atomic Energy Agency was created to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy. They also had the mission of providing safeguards and inspection systems to guarantee that nuclear materials were not used for military purposes.

With safety as a consideration, in 1957 the initial attempt at large-scale nuclear powerplants began operations Pennsylvania. Larger and larger power plants were being created and in 1959 "The Dresden-1 Nuclear Power Station in Illinois achieves a self-sustaining nuclear reaction. It's the first U.S. nuclear power plant built entirely without government funding." (Schoenherr, 2003)

The world has tried to reduce the chance of nuclear power being a curse. "The United States and Soviet Union sign the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits underwater, atmospheric, and outer space nuclear tests. More than 100 countries have ratified the treaty since 1963." (Schoenherr, 2003) In 1968, "Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) -- calling for halting the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities -- is signed. By 1970, more than 50 countries had ratified the NPT. By 1986, more than 130 countries had ratified it." (Schoenherr, 2003)

Skipping ahead to more recent events shows that the bugs have not been completely worked out. "Plant operations have introduced to the site radioactive and hazardous chemical wastes, including technetium-99, polychlorinated biphenyl's (PCBs), uranium, and volatile organic compounds such as trichloroethene. In past years, a cleaning solvent containing trichloroethene -- much like that used by dry cleaners -- was used to degrease parts and equipment. In the plant's half century of operations, these various waste materials have contaminated the area's groundwater, surface water, soils, and air."(Unavailable, 2000) In 1978, "Three Mile Island Nuclear Power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania suffers a partial core meltdown. Minimal radioactive material is released." (Schoenherr, 2003) "And in 1989, "Nuclear weapons production facilities at Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado and Fernald Feed Materials Production Center in Ohio cease production and change their missions to cleaning up their facilities." (Schoenherr, 2003)

Nuclear power, if it has been conquered, can make a country a superpower. "Although U.S. officials are sporadically reviewing technical assistance projects in countries of concern to the United States, they are neither systematically reviewing technical assistance projects before their approval nor regularly monitoring ongoing technical assistance projects. Without a systematic review, U.S. officials may be unaware of specific instances in which IAEA's assistance could raise concerns for the United States about nuclear proliferation and threats to nuclear safety. Most of the assistance that IAEA provides is not considered to be sensitive. However, in several cases, the technical assistance that IAEA has provided is contrary to U.S. policy goals. Moreover, since 1996, a portion of the U.S. funding has supported technical assistance projects that will ultimately benefit nuclear programs, training, and techniques in countries of concern to the United States, including Iran and Cuba." (Not Available, Government Accounting Office Report, 1997)

Both the United States and the Soviet Union have used atomic energy as leverage. But what happens when a poor country attempts to use the bomb as leverage? The current North Korea issue is what will need to be dealt with now that the Iraq war has been won. President Bush recently announced that North Korea admitted that they have been operating a clandestine nuclear weapons program. "The White House's announcement Wednesday that North Korea had admitted running a secret operation to enrich uranium - the fuel for atomic bombs - sparked expressions of concern from governments around the globe. State Department arms control chief John R. Bolton and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia James Kelly were in Beijing yesterday, with North Korea's revived nuclear weapons program at the top the agenda with Chinese officials." (Not Available, 2002)

From 1987 through 1994, IAEA spent about $396,000 in technical assistance for two projects on uranium prospecting and exploration in North Korea. According to IAEA's April 1997 project status reports, the objectives of these projects were (1) to enable North Korea to better assess the potential of its nuclear raw materials in view of its increasing commitment to nuclear power and (2) to provide support for North Korea's uranium exploration program. Under the uranium prospecting project, which was completed in 1994, the status report shows that IAEA contributed a considerable amount of uranium exploration equipment to North Korea, as well as a microcomputer and software for data processing. IAEA spent more than one-third of the $87,000 budgeted for the follow-on project on uranium exploration before the project was canceled following North Korea's withdrawal from IAEA." (Not Available, Government Accounting Office Report, 1997)

The United States is paying for more than its designated share of the technical cooperation fund because many member states are not paying into the fund. Yet many of these states are receiving the benefits of IAEA's technical assistance. This is contrary to the State Department's position that all IAEA member states, particularly those that receive technical assistance, should provide financial support for the program. (Not Available, Government Accounting Office Report, 1997) With that support, North Korea has agreed to close one of their reactors and to completely stop the construction of another two.

Mr. Bush, who has named North Korea, Iraq and Iran as an "axis of evil," took a low-profile approach to North Korea's admission. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he believes North Korea already has "a small number" of atom bombs. But he cautioned against comparing it with Iraq." (Not Available, 2002) Unlike Sadaam Hussein, North Korea has agreed to allow the international inspectors review the nuclear facilities capabilities.

In conclusion, September 11th has brought to the forefront of everyone's mind that nuclear power and atomic bombs are both a blessing and can be a curse. "The government has also been re-examining the safety of nuclear convoys and power plants in the wake of the September 11 suicide plane attacks on New York and Washington." (Blenkinsop, 2001) "Nuclear energy offers a new energy source just when the limits of the chemical fuels, oil, natural gas and coal, are being realized. If recycled, the world's nuclear fuels are virtually inexhaustible. However, the radiation from nuclear energy, like the fire of chemical energy, has its hazards as well as its benefits." (ROBERTSON, 1997)

The country that has suffered the most obvious catastrophes is Japan. They have asked that the North Koreans heed the world's warnings. "Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who made his own precedent - shattering visit to Pyongyang in a bid to improve bilateral ties last month, said he had been told of North Korea's violations before making his trip. We hope North Korea will take a sincere stance toward dispelling suspicions over its nuclear program," Mr. Koizumi told Japanese reporters yesterday, adding he will again discuss the matter in meetings with North Korean officials later this month." (Not Available, 2002)

References

Blenkinsop, Philip (11-13-2001). German Police Mass For Final Leg Of Nuclear Convoy. Reuters.

Not Available (09-16-1997). Nuclear Nonproliferation And Safety - Concerns With The International Atomic Energy Agency's Technical Cooperation. Government Accounting Office Report.

Not Available (10-18-2002). Powell Says Force Not Contemplated North Korea's Nuclear Program 'Troubling' Bush. The Washington Times.

Not Available (10-23-2001). UN: Nuclear Power Alternative To Fossil Fuels, IAEA Director Informs General Assembly; Following… [END OF PREVIEW]

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