You say we need to challenge the argument that current technology would lead to nuclear proliferation.
Al Gore has recently said “Whatever countries such as the US and the UK do, it will have a demonstration effect for the rest of the world. As the world comes to grips with how to solve the climate crisis, we in the US and the UK have a leadership role. If we told the rest of the world that nuclear is the answer [they would follow]. For the eight years that I spent in the White House every nuclear weapons proliferation problem we dealt with was connected to a reactor programme. People have said for years that there are now completely different [nuclear] technologies. OK, but if you have a team of scientists that can build a reactor, and you're a dictator, you can make them work at night to build a nuclear weapon. That's what's happened in North Korea and Iran. And in Libya before they gave it up. So the idea of, say, Chad, Burma, and Sudan having lots of nuclear reactors is insane and it's not going to happen.”
This guy has won a Noble prize. His opinion was officially ratified and affirmed by the world. He told Obama to hire Chu. Chu is loath to offend his good friend: Gore. . How do you fight this? I am groping here.
The only thing that might do the trick is a full proof device. It may well be vaporware now, but the argument may need to be made.
Al Gore's argument that "every nuclear weapons proliferation problem we dealt with (during the Clinton administration) was connected to a reactor programme" is absurd. Iran's nuclear technology did not originate from an Iranian reactor. Nor was Pakistan's or South Africa's weapons programs linked in any way to reactor programs. Libya bought an enrichment facility from an international criminal gang. Local scientists and reactor technology had nothing to do with it. Al Gore has fallen for Amory Lovins's argument without giving it the slightest amount of thought.
The argument that building reactors in the United States will in any way contribute to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by dictators is not backed by evidence. In none of the cases which Gore mentioned did American nuclear technology contribute to the proliferation. UK technology did contribute to the North Korean nuclear program, but only because the British Government shortsightedly put the plans for a plutonium production plant into the public domain.
My view is that LFTR research needs to have a proliferation component. The proliferation component needs to answer central questions.
1. Is it plausible that producing LFTRs in the United States for internal use lead to nuclear proliferation in other countries?
2. Is it plausible that producing LFTRs in the United States for internal use lead to the acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorists?
3. Is it plausible that selling LFTRs to nuclear armed nations would lead to nuclear proliferation or the increase the likelihood that terrorists would acquire nuclear weapons?
4. Should Pakistan be considered a special case in this group?
5. Would the sale of LFTR technology to countries deemed to be politically unstable lead to an unacceptable political risk?
6. What policies would best contain LFTR related proliferation risks?