21st Century US Nuclear Power: A National Security Imperative
At the 2018 ISSS-IS conference at Purdue University, my colleague, Josh Massey, and I presented a paper on the challenges facing 21st century US nuclear power policy, particularly in the global context. In December 2019, I testified before the US House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change where I included in my testimony the national security implications of US nuclear power (Link to testimony here). Recently, Josh and I authored a paper where we go into greater detail on these issues and offer recommendations for a long-term US nuclear power policy strategy. This is a pre-publication version of that paper, which was recently accepted for publication in the Fall 2020 edition of Strategic Studies Quarterly and will be available online August 26, 2020.
Abstract: America’s 20th century policy on the peaceful uses of nuclear power was original US strategic thinking. It was a policy founded on a rules-based liberal international order shaped by personal experiences and aligned with comprehensive, long-term national security objectives. However, in the 21st century, the US stands at a crossroads, embroiled in a national discussion as to whether it should advance its civilian nuclear power enterprise or abandon it altogether. This disposition conflicts with America’s original nuclear power policy and does not align with 21st century realities. Nuclear power generation is not merely a domestic energy issue subject to popular opinion or the volatility of energy markets. Competing powers are leveraging civilian nuclear collaborations to meet strategic geopolitical objectives. If America retreats from the civilian nuclear field, revisionist powers will become the global leaders in nuclear science, engineering, and technology in the 21st century with adverse implications for US national security. Thus, the civilian nuclear power enterprise should be included as a strategic sector within the US national security industrial base and deliberated as a foreign policy issue within a global alliance.