Chapter 3: Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Energy: The Connection
1. FROM CHERNOBYL TO NUCLEAR RENAISSANCE? 1.1 A Controversial Industry Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons have been joined together in an uncomfortable symbiosis since the beginnings of the nuclear age. Demonstrations against nuclear weapons have taken place on the doorsteps of nuclear power plants and campaigns against the nuclear industry have ended up as campaigns against nuclear weapons.1 Popular photos against nuclear weapons picture a mushroom cloud rising out of a nuclear power plant.2 Slogans of the type ‘Zero Nuclear Weapons’ and ‘Ban Nuclear Power’ are inspired by the intimate link between nuclear weapons and nuclear energy.3 During most of the 1990s, the nuclear industry was considered a failing industry. Various nuclear mishaps had given a bad name to the industry, which saw its reputation tanking dramatically after the Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union. Many European countries cooled down their plans to develop nuclear energy. Italy decided to abandon nuclear energy as an alternative energy option while Germany decided to phase out nuclear energy by 2010. In 2011 the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has reheated the debate whether nuclear power is appropriate for the energy mix of earthquake-prone countries. Overall, nuclear power has been affected by the nuclear taboo defined as a fear and dread about anything related to radioactivity.4 Nuclear energy has been further haunted by fears about how and where to bury the nuclear wastes that can remain radioactive for thousands of years. Radioactive waste disposal has 1 Lawrence S. Wittner, ‘The Forgotten Years of...
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