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Does nuclear energy contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons?
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Plutonium is produced from spent nuclear fuel

Pu-239 is incredibly easy to create from uranium used in nuclear power. Weapons-grade plutonium can be created from spent uranium in almost any country that has the capabilities for nuclear power.

The Argument

If a nuclear reactor is run normally for a prolonged period of time, the plutonium produced will be 19% or more Pu-240, with 80% or less Pu-239. Weapons-grade plutonium must have less than 7% Pu-240. Pu-240 cannot undergo nuclear fission, while Pu-239 can.[1] However, if a nuclear reactor is run just long enough to produce Pu-239 out of the uranium but not long enough to create Pu-240, the resulting spent nuclear fuel will have enough Pu-239 to be weapons-grade. Running a nuclear reactor for a short amount of time can easily create weapons-grade plutonium, where up to 93% of the plutonium created is Pu-239, leaving between 6 and 7% Pu-240. [1] The ability to create Pu-239 from uranium used for nuclear power means there is a connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons. It is feasible for countries that have the necessary equipment for nuclear power to also produce, if nothing else, weapons-grade plutonium.[2]

Counter arguments



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Saturday, 31 Oct 2020 at 00:03 UTC

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