You Don’t Make Deals Like this with Your Friends: Arms Control and the New U.S.-Russian Tension

In recent days, Congressional opponents of the Iran agreement were unable to stop it from going into effect. This is a big win for the Obama administration, which—after two years of negotiations with European allies, China, Russia and Iran—worked hard for months to convince Senators to support the historic agreement. Read More

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Latest Posts

Nuclear Autopsies

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #59

Medical professionals diagnose the health of their patients using non-destructive techniques (keeping with the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm) like taking temperatures and pulses and, when necessary, peering inside bodies using X-rays and Cat-scans.

Medical coroners, on the other hand, can use destructive techniques on persons when determining the causes of their deaths. Read More

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Preventing Space War

“Of all the places where conflict could erupt, space might seem the least likely, except in movies.”

So says a very good New York Times editorial “Preventing a Space War” this week. Sounds right, if X-Wing fighters come to mind when you think space conflict. Read More

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Palisades 50

Fission Stories #192

Much has been said and written about the Fukushima 50—the workers who remained onsite during the height of the crisis at the Japanese Fukushima nuclear plant after senior managers ordered their co-workers to evacuate because of worsening conditions. Read More

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Enhancing NRC Public Meetings

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #58

By memo dated January 29, 2015, a task group of twenty individuals within the NRC submitted its report to the agency’s Executive Director for Operations on enhancing public meetings. The task group was created in response to written direction dated March 5, 2014, (ADAMS ML14070A070, but not publicly available in ADAMS) from the NRC Chairman. Read More

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Nuclear Stock Market

Fission Stories #191

News such as last year’s closure of four nuclear power reactors, this year’s closure of another reactor, and Exelon’s claim that many of its reactors cannot break even absent even greater subsidies suggests that now might not be the best time to invest in nuclear technology. Read More

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Nuclear Columbine

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #57

From Charles Whitman killing 16 people with shots fired from a tower on the University of Texas at Austin campus on August 1, 1966, to two students killing 13 people by gunfire at Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, 1999, to a gunmen killing 32 people at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, to a young man fatally shooting 20 children and 6 staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, and many other incidents, school shootings have tragically claimed too many innocent lives and given too many families irreplaceable, unforgettable losses. Read More

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The No-Muss, No-Fuss Solution to Preventing Accidental Nuclear War

Here’s something I bet you say to yourself pretty often: “Boy, I sure hope I don’t die in an accidental nuclear war today.” Okay, you may never have said that, but if you thought about it, you would.

More importantly, while it is not highly likely that you will die in an accidental or mistaken nuclear war today, the chances of that happening are likely greater than of dying in an intentional nuclear war—probably much greater. Read More

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Near Miss at Nuclear Fuel Services

Fission Stories #190

UCS initiated a series of annual reports on the NRC and nuclear plant safety in March 2011. As in this year’s report, these annual reports contain a chapter summarizing the near misses that the NRC investigated during the prior year. Read More

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What is the Administration’s Rationale for Keeping Missiles on Hair-Trigger Alert?

One of the sensible ideas the non-nuclear weapon states promoted at both the 2010 and 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conferences is the idea that the nuclear weapon states should take their missiles off high alert and eliminate the option to launch nuclear weapons on warning of an attack. Read More

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More Problems with U.S. Missile Defense Interceptors

A recent government report revealed two problems with the U.S. Ground Based Midcourse (GMD) missile defense system. These flaws, like several problems revealed previously, affect the operation of the “kill vehicle”—the business end of the anti-missile interceptors. The kill vehicle is the part of the system designed to guide itself to collide with and destroy an enemy warhead in space, and is therefore one of the key parts of the whole system. Read More

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All Over the Nuclear Safety Map

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #56

In 2007, UCS launched the Nuclear Power Information Tracker, an interactive web feature. The default screen showed a map of the continental United States with icons showing the locations of the commercial nuclear power reactors. Running the cursor over an icon prompted a pop-up box with the reactor’s name, some basic information, and a link to a webpage for that reactor with additional details as well as UCS reports about that reactor. Read More

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Nuclear Near-Miss at Pilgrim

On January 27, 2015, Winter Storm Juno knocked out both of the 345,000 volt transmission lines connecting the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth.  Per design, the reactor automatically shut down when the second offsite power line was lost. When equipment problems and operator errors complicated the intended response, the NRC dispatched a special inspection team to the site to investigate what happened (and didn’t happen). Read More

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Perils of New Nuclear Fuel: Part 4 – Grand Gulf’s Painted Water

Fission Stories #189

The previous two Fission Stories commentaries (#187 and #188) described problems at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station near Port Gibson, Mississippi involving new fuel bundles stored in the new fuel vault and later in transferring them into the spent fuel pool. Read More

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The NRC’s MOX Decision: Out of Step on Cybersecurity

On April 1, President Obama declared that the increasing threat of cyberterrorism was a “national emergency.” White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel said “We very much need the full range of tools across the spectrum in order to actually confront the cyber threats that we face.”

Given this warning, one might think that the U.S. Read More

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China and MIRVed Warheads

A recent Pentagon report on Chinese Military Power reported that for the first time China has apparently begun to put multiple warheads on some of its ballistic missiles. This would mean that China can use its existing missile force to launch more nuclear warheads.  Read More

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Nuclear Near-Misses

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #55

UCS launched a series of annual reports on the NRC and nuclear power plant safety in 2011. The reports share a common template for what is covered and how it is presented. The reports have something else in common—unanticipated controversies inside and outside UCS regarding our decision to use “near miss” to describe the events summarized in Chapter 2 of the reports. Read More

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NPT Brief: Keeping Chinese Nuclear Weapons Off Hair-Trigger Alert

An overwhelming majority of NPT member states agree that keeping nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert presents an irresponsibly high risk of an accidental or mistaken launch. The final report of the last NPT review conference, held in 2010, included a requirement to lower alert levels. Read More

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Perils of New Nuclear Fuel: Part 3 – Grand Gulf’s Safety Suspension

Fission Stories #188

The previous Fission Stories commentary described a problem at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station near Port Gibson, Mississippi that prevented workers from transferring fuel bundles from the new fuel vault to the spent fuel pool. This post describes a problem encountered shortly after that problem was eliminated and the transfers began. Read More

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U.S. Plays Word Games in Statement about Alert Level of Nuclear Weapons

On Tuesday, the U.S. delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York issued a statement on the alert level of U.S. nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, the statement is disingenuous and misleading, and relies on word games to obfuscate the real issues. Read More

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