International institutions for nuclear energy: issues of assessment and design

by William R. Harris

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If one objective of anti-proliferation policies is to assure that fuel cycle pathways to nuclear explosives are more costly than indigenous pathways, then it would be appropriate: (1) to retrofit existing institutions and revise international rules-of-trade to reduce "baseline risk" associated with commercially deployed fuel cycles; (2) to design new institutions and rules-of-trade for advanced fuel cycles so that these systems will not appreciably increase prospects for weapons proliferation; and (3) to assess the role of international institutions in providing timely warning of preliminary commitments to acquire nuclear weapons or precursor facilities. Among candidate institutions and rules-of-trade are: extension of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards as a condition of fuel assurances or technology transfer; international jurisdiction over spent fuel; IAEA remote near-real-time verification system for spent fuel remaining under national management; a convention on uniform nuclear fuel identification ("tagging"); international nuclear service centers for bulk processing operations; and fuel-cycle specific regulations.

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