Twenty-First-Century US Nuclear Power: A National Security Imperative

Twenty-First-Century US Nuclear Power: A National Security Imperative

David K. Gattie and Joshua N. K. Massey
Link to circulation copy of paper accepted for publication in Strategic Studies Quarterly

Abstract: America’s twentieth-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 twenty-first century, the US is 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 twenty-first-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, nuclear engineering, and nuclear technology in the twenty-first-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.


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