Non-governmental organizations at the NPT Abolition Caucus express dismay at the unashamed pushing of a nuclear energy agenda at the NPT conference. Although welcoming the commitment by the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council (P5) in their statement of 5 May 2010 “to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons”, they condemn the false advertising of the benefits of nuclear energy “in addressing climate change, in facilitating achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development, in providing energy security and in addressing vital non-power applications such as nuclear medicine, agriculture and industry” and for actively promoting the so-called “sustainable development of peaceful nuclear energy” or its “peaceful uses”(1).
Alice Slater the NY Director of the Nuclear Age Peace foundation said, “It’s outrageous to suggest that nuclear energy can be an appropriate technology for meeting our energy needs and combating global warming. It is being promoted by an unelected nuclear lobby speaking through the mouths of the P5 Governments who fail to consider the devastation caused to human health and the environment at every stage of the toxic nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining to dangerous releases of radioactive poisons seeping into the air, water and soil near every “peaceful” reactor.
Last month, the New York Academy of Sciences, issued a report by noted Russian scientists who concluded that based on records now available, some 985,000 people died of cancer caused by the Chernobyl catastrophe between 1986 and 2004 (2). The industry-dominated IAEA, has been instrumental in covering up the disastrous health effects of the Chernobyl tragedy. It’s only proper role should be to prevent any military diversion of fissile materials by strict inspections and verification at all existing nuclear facilities.. Countries with energy needs should not be exploited and endangered by nuclear suppliers but should instead be encouraged to rely on the safe, clean, free and abundant energy of the sun, wind, tides and geothermal heat and to become a member of the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA (3).”
Judith Berlyn from the Canadian Peace Alliance said, “Here there is an inherent conflict of interest in the IAEA; the same organisation cannot be responsible both for the regulation and for the promotion of nuclear energy. It is absurd to suggest that nuclear energy is clean, as the IAEA did in their statement on Monday (4). There is no way to deal with the radioactive waste. Do they think the earth is flat and we can just push the waste over the edge?”
Jean-Marie Matagne for ACDN, France, highlighted that, “Nuclear energy only accounts for 3% of world final energy consumption. It is quite impossible to address the problems of global energy supplies with nuclear energy, even if you were to double the contribution by nuclear energy. Currently, there are about 430 reactors in the world and the IAEA is unable to control them even now. How could it manage double the number to get to 6%? Moreover, at the current level of consumption, stocks of uranium will be used up within 50 years. Doubling the number of reactors means the fuel supply will be exhausted even sooner. This is absolutely not a solution; on the contrary it’s a terrifying problem when you consider that at any time things can go wrong as happened in Chernobyl.”
On Friday 7th May, NGOs read out a damning report (5) submitted to the conference on the dangers of proliferation of nuclear energy including: the dangers of uranium mining, especially in developing countries whose workers are put at incredible risks to their health during the extraction process and the waste of finely powdered rock that accumulates during the milling process; the pollution of water aquifers in the refining process; and refuted the claim that nuclear energy is carbon neutral citing the example of the Olympic Dam uranium mining operation which is the largest producer of greenhouse gases in Australia.
The statement continued, “In 2010, the inalienable right to nuclear energy as invoked by Article IV amounts to the inalienable right of an expensive industry to massive subsidies, the inalienable right to expose citizens to routine hazardous releases of radiation and the inalienable right to produce contamination that science cannot yet contain arising from large quantities of radioactive waste.
The right of all peoples to sources of energy is not being disputed here. If there still needs to be a carrot in the NPT which would reward non-nuclear weapons states for not pursuing nuclear weapons with an energy technology, let that technology be renewable and clean. Nuclear power is neither.”