Op-Ed: How the nuclear weapons taboo is fading away
In the post-Cold War era, the United States of America has largely put an end to the nuclear taboo and now welcomes the free exchange of nuclear technology through an innovative partnership known as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Despite the historic agreement between the two nuclear-armed powers, there are concerns that progress is halting and that global warming is causing a nuclear arms race.
Today, the United States is the world’s largest user of nuclear power: an average of 60 nuclear power reactors run by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) generate around 50 percent of electricity on a daily basis.
By 2050, the world could have a total of 1,000 nuclear-power reactors, nearly double the current number with current projections of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty to be ratified by all nuclear-armed countries in the world.
Nuclear power has a clear positive impact on the environment, as nuclear power plants emit fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs) than fossil fuels. Nuclear power also provides a stable supply of energy that can be used to power hospitals and other vital facilities.
Nuclear power is clean and safe, with no known health effects, and it may become cost-competitive with energy-intensive fossil fuels in the future.
The nuclear taboo also has a long history in the U.S. Congress, beginning in 1971, when the government established its first nuclear security committee. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher established the “International Commission on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons” during their visit to the U.S. The commission was meant to coordinate efforts to achieve the non-proliferation of nuclear technology, but the U.S. and U.K. withdrew from the commission in the early 1980s. The commission and the nuclear arms reduction treaty is still on the books, only partially implemented, but the treaty has seen increased activity by scientists and researchers to create the first ever global database of nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the main organization in charge of monitoring the world’s nuclear arsenals and ensuring the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The IAEA has monitored and