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The Back-End of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: An Innovative Storage Concept


For more than five decades, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has played an integral role in nonproliferation studies, beginning with a special issue of Dædalus on arms control published in 1960. Today, the Academy’s Global Nuclear Future (GNF) Initiative is examining the safety, security, and nonproliferation implications of the global spread of nuclear energy. Through innovative scholarship and behind-the-scenes interactions with international leaders and stakeholders, the Initiative is developing pragmatic recommendations for managing the emerging nuclear order.

A safe nuclear future depends in great measure on how the nuclear fuel cycle is managed. In 2010, the Academy published Multinational Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, which considered spent-fuel management in an international context. The present volume draws on that paper but also moves the debate forward. Robert Rosner (University of Chicago), Stephen M. Goldberg (Argonne National Laboratory), and James P. Malone (Lightbridge) outline a concept to transform the existing international nuclear fuel cycle market. Their proposal addresses the economic decisions that businesses and governments need to make as well as the established competition in back-end services. The model reflects and expands on the recommendations in the recent report from the U.S. President’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

The leaders of the GNF Initiative are working with decision-makers and stakeholders in nuclear consumer states to advance this new business model. Project leaders will work with international colleagues in South and East Asia to develop regional partnerships for managing used nuclear fuel. These agreements could then serve as a building block for similar arrangements in other regions.

The GNF Initiative is supported in part by grants from Carnegie Corporation of New York, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Flora Family Foundation, and Fred Kavli and the Kavli Foundation. The Academy is grateful to these supporters and to the principal investigators for the Initiative: Steven E. Miller, codirector (Harvard University); Scott D. Sagan, codirector (Stanford University); Robert Rosner, senior advisor; and Stephen M. Goldberg, research coordinator. I also want to express my thanks to the authors for their expertise and for advancing the work of the Initiative.

Leslie Berlowitz
President and William T. Golden Chair
American Academy of Arts and Sciences