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Nuclear Power, Nuclear Weapons, and Nuclear Terrorism

Study Guide by Dot Surlock

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Most of us would like to have our only planet able to sustain human civilization comfortably for a pretty long run. We can imagine our children, grandchildren, and maybe great-grandchildren needing the planet to be there for them. Perhaps we buy into the Native American idea of providing for seven generations into the future.

We know that both militarization and climate change threaten the future of human civilization. Increasing numbers of people wanting more stuff challenge our finite resources including clean water and air. Throw into the picture growing numbers of weapons, some very, very dangerous, and human fallibility, and things don’t look too promising. The Chinese have a saying, “Unless we change direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.” Time to change.

The issues of militarization and climate change are strongly linked. Nuclear power proponents claim that nuclear power can provide energy for the world without the CO2 emissions that the planet is currently getting from our mostly fossil fuel energy. This study guide will enable readers to see that a nuclear power renaissance could easily lead to nuclear weapons proliferation and an increase in the threat of nuclear terrorism. Since all the energy for the world can be affordably provided by renewable sources, should new nuclear power have a place in the world’s energy mix? Will new nuclear power lead to new military dangers?

In order to think about these questions, you need to know more about nuclear power and particularly the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. These chapters are devoted to explaining the relationship between nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and nuclear terrorism. This study guide doesn’t explain the environmental issues connected with permanent disposal of the high-level radioactive waste produced in nuclear reactors. This study guide does not deal with the health issues related to the nuclear infrastructure. Nuclear power is questioned here because of its connections to nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism.

The chapters are meant to provide an elementary education about the cords that bind nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and nuclear terrorism.

Dot Sulock

University of North Carolina at Asheville
January 7, 2014

Mission Statement

PREVENTING WHAT WE CANNOT CURE: Physicians for Social Responsibility is the medical and public health voice working to prevent the use or spread of nuclear weapons and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and the toxic degradation of the environment.