A New Approach to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Best Practices

A New Approach to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Best Practices

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In the past decade, a resurgence of enthusiasm for nuclear power has rekindled interest in efforts to manage the fuel cycle. The 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants in Japan and current proliferation crises in North Korea and Iran raise this question: Is the current approach on the fuel cycle—leaving uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing capabilities in the hands of national governments—too risky on proliferation grounds? New approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle with the objective of mitigating proliferation risks can also help improve nuclear governance, making nuclear energy safer and more sustainable. 

In early 2011, the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Center for Strategic and International Studies launched the New Approaches to the Fuel Cycle (NAFC) project. This project, led by Corey Hinderstein and Sharon Squassoni, sought to build consensus on common goals, address practical challenges, and engage a spectrum of actors that influence policymaking regarding the nuclear fuel cycle. Drawing from industry, government, and NGO community expertise in the United States and abroad, the NAFC project worked to outline a vision for an integrated approach to nuclear supply and demand. The project, which hosted multiple workshops and smaller breakout groups to vet ideas, sought specifically to identify practical solutions that could be adopted in phases.

The result is the first comprehensive approach that contains guidelines for shaping a sustainable nuclear supply system and leverages existing trends in nuclear industry.

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