Continued American leadership in global nuclear security matters is central to protecting our national security interests. In particular, U.S. leadership in nuclear technology and operations can strengthen our influence with respect to other countries’ nuclear programs and the evolution of the international nonproliferation regime, while also supporting competitiveness in a major export market.
Nuclear power technologies are distinct from other potential exports in energy or in sectors where America’s competitive advantage may also be declining. Because of the potential link between commercial technology and weapons development, nuclear power is linked to national security concerns, including the threat of proliferation.
Although reactors themselves do not pose significant proliferation risks, both uranium enrichment and spent fuel processing technologies can be misused for military purposes.
If U.S. nuclear energy leadership continues to diminish, our nation will be facing a situation in which decisions about the technological capabilities and location of fuel cycle facilities throughout the world will be made without significant U.S. participation. Leadership is important in both commercial and diplomatic arenas, and it requires a vibrant domestic industry – an effective, independent regulator, access to competitive and innovative technologies and services, and the ability to offer practical solutions to safety, security and nonproliferation challenges.
Just as importantly, nuclear power provides significant climate change benefits – 60 percent of zero-carbon electricity comes from nuclear power. For roughly a decade, the Department of Defense and former members of the military have studied the potential physical and geopolitical impacts of climate change and concluded that they pose a threat to our national security. Continued investment in nuclear power, both here and abroad, can help to mitigate the damaging effects of climate change.