Nuclear responsibility and nuclear trade: international rules and institutions to manage nuclear fuel cycles

by William R. Harris


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Diffusion of nuclear weapons and nuclear wastes as byproducts of nuclear-electric power impose intergenerational costs. However, constraints and improvements may also have intergenerational impacts, through depletion of nonrenewable fossil fuel and uranium. Rules-of-trade and institutions should be designed to safeguard nuclear-electric fuel cycles through the transition to nonnuclear or advanced nuclear cycles, to internalize intergenerational costs, to minimize social costs, and to avert incentives or legal commitments that would perpetuate fuel cycles after preferred cycles were available. Social costs of nuclear power have not been adequately reflected: parties in interest have been unrepresented or without legal rights, or without information, or without the institutional framework to achieve mutually-preferable outcomes to those driven by export sales competition. Establishing international public utilities regulated by the International Atomic Energy Agency should be considered for a nuclear fuel assurance system, but without regulation of uranium ore prices. Appended are a statement on nuclear policy by President Ford, October 28, 1976; Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; and the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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