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Our analysts look at security and energy issues in Japan, where both nuclear weapons and nuclear power have a long and complex history.


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North Korea’s Next Test?

, China project manager and senior analyst

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho warned reporters in New York that his country may place a live nuclear warhead on one of its missiles, launch it, and then detonate the bomb in the open air.

It would not be the first time a country conducted such a test. The Soviet Union did it in 1956, The United States did it in 1962. But perhaps the most relevant historical precedent is the Chinese test in 1966. Read more >

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Japan Can Accept No First Use

, China project manager and senior analyst
Estimated effects of a single Chinese nuclear warhead targeting the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka in retaliation for U.S. first use of nuclear weapons in a conventional war with China.

Estimated effects of a single Chinese nuclear warhead targeting the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka in retaliation for U.S. first use of nuclear weapons in a conventional war with China.

Most Japanese security professionals currently prefer the United States maintain the option to use nuclear weapons first. But should President Obama declare that the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter and, if necessary, respond to the use of nuclear weapons by another country, extensive interviews with those same Japanese security professionals indicate they would accept the change. Read more >

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Veterans Day in Asia

, China project manager and senior analyst

What we choose to remember and how we choose to remember it often describes the present more accurately than the past.

Asia today is rife with disputes about “history.” Japan’s ruling party is led by a cohort of politicians who are dissatisfied with how the “Great War in the Pacific” (as they call it) is remembered, particularly in Korea and China. Read more >

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Water Management and Mismanagement at Fukushima

, senior scientist

This photo shows the reactors (right) and the storage tanks for contaminated water (left) at Fukushima Daiichi on March 3, 2013 (Source: Google Earth)

In December 2011, the government of Japan announced with great fanfare that the nuclear reactors damaged in March at Fukushima Daiichi were in a state of “cold shutdown” and that the release of radioactive materials from the reactor containment vessels had been brought under control. Read more >

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Lochbaum and Lyman Address NAS on US Response to Fukushima

, co-director and senior scientist

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is working on a study called “Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security at US Nuclear Plants.” It is currently in the phase of collecting information through public meetings.

Dave Lochbaum and Ed Lyman were part of a small group of people who addressed the NAS panel yesterday. The slides from their presentation are available here.The others addressing the panel were two representatives from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission—Mike Johnson, deputy executive director for Reactor and Preparedness Programs, and Rob Taylor, deputy director of the Japan Lessons Learned Project Directorate—and Marv Fertel, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry trade association.

The NAS website says the report will address the following issues:

1. Causes of the Fukushima nuclear accident, particularly with respect to the performance of safety systems and operator response following the earthquake and tsunami.

2. Re-evaluation of the conclusions from previous NAS studies on safety and security of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste storage, particularly with respect to the safety and security of current storage arrangements and alternative arrangements in which the amount of commercial spent fuel stored in pools is reduced.

3. Lessons that can be learned from the accident to improve commercial nuclear plant safety and security systems and operations.

4. Lessons that can be learned from the accident to improve commercial nuclear plant safety and security regulations, including processes for identifying and applying design basis events for accidents and terrorist attacks to existing nuclear plants.

The two-year study is due out in 2014.

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