Ribicoff, Abraham A
July 1976
Foreign Affairs;Jul1976, Vol. 54 Issue 4, p763
An unanticipated development in the world nuclear marketplace has suddenly transformed the problem of nuclear proliferation from a potential to an immediate danger. The recent decisions by West Germany and France to sell nuclear fuel facilities to Brazil and Pakistan mark the first sharp divergence by major industrial nations from long-established United States nonproliferation policy. The cornerstone of this policy has been the general practice of exporting power reactors and low enriched uranium fuel, neither of which can be applied directly to weapons-making, and of not exporting nuclear fuel plants capable of enriching uranium and reprocessing plutonium in a form suitable for direct use in atomic bombs. As the principal developer and promoter of nuclear power plants the United States has sought to keep the plutonium generated by these plants out of the hands of customers by refusing to sell them reprocessing plants or technology. In addition, at what is sometimes called the "front end" of the nuclear fuel cycle, the United States has all along refrained from sharing the plants or technology for the enrichment of uranium. Over the past few years, however, several U.S. actions have served to undermine the influence of this policy, and to encourage the export of reprocessing and uranium enrichment plants.


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