Technological Opportunities to Increase the Proliferation Resistance of Global Civilian Nuclear Power Systems (TOPS) [open pdf - 486KB]
The report covers four major topics: (a) the overall context in which nuclear power is being pursued at the present time, (b) the need and challenge to develop more systematic comparative nonproliferation assessments of different nuclear systems and their potential applications, (c) the technological opportunities meriting exploration that have the potential to increase the proliferation resistance of future civilian nuclear power systems, and (d) the principal research and development (R&D) objectives that the U.S., working in a spirit of collaboration with other countries, should pursue to enhance the global nonproliferation regime. Two working premises guided this study: Nuclear power has the potential to continue making important contributions in helping meet future global energy needs under terms that are compatible with safety, economic, nonproliferation, and environmental objectives, including the desire to abate air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Unless the U.S. pursues a much more proactive R&D program in the civil nuclear field, its technical influence in advancing those aspects of the non-proliferation regime that relate to civil nuclear energy could seriously erode as could its ability to help shape and influence proliferation resistance choices in other countries. After an in-depth review based on these premises, we have concluded that there are promising technical approaches that might well increase the proliferation resistance of civilian nuclear systems. Furthermore, a significant investment in R&D is warranted to evaluate these approaches and pursue those identified as most promising.