Press Release

Multinational Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle


CAMBRIDGE – The world may need to adopt new multinational arrangements to ensure the security and safe storage of nuclear materials that result from a global expansion of nuclear energy, according to the authors of a new collection from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Nuclear power is now widely accepted as an important alternative source of clean energy. But the increase in global demand for nuclear power poses significant challenges. How can we ensure that nuclear materials are not used to make nuclear weapons? Is there a comprehensive plan for the management of radioactive wastes and spent fuel?

A new Occasional Paper from the American Academy (available here) addresses these concerns and offers recommendations for a multinational approach to managing the emerging nuclear order. The first essay, originally printed in the Winter 2010 edition of the Academy’s journal Dædalus, is the centerpiece of the publication. Authors Charles McCombie and Thomas Isaacs, in their essay “The Key Role of the Back-End in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle,” underscore possible problems and potential solutions associated with the global expansion of nuclear power, focusing on the flow of nuclear materials “from cradle to grave.”Four other essays follow. Experts from the Malaysia, Canada, Japan, and the U.S. respond to the first essay and offer insights on how we might move toward a multinational approach for dealing with spent fuel. Articles include:

  • Noramly Bin Muslim: Possible International Fuel-Cycle Arrangements Attractive to States during the Nuclear Power Renaissance
  • Tariq Rauf: New Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle
  • Atsuyuki Suzuki: Not Second but First Place for the United States
  • Frank von Hippel: Spent-Fuel Management: The Cases of Japan, South Korea, and Russia

The volume also includes remarks made by Ellen Tauscher, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, at a January 2010 conference at the Hoover Institution in California. Under Secretary Taushcer emphasizes that “cooperation on spent-fuel management can reduce global demand for indigenous enrichment and reprocessing . . . so that countries can access peaceful power without the risk of proliferation.”

The volume is part of the Academy’s Global Nuclear Future Initiative, a project that brings together research groups focused on the nuclear industry, the future fuel cycle, the protection of nuclear materials, and the emergence of a new international nuclear regulatory regime. Scott D. Sagan and Steven E. Miller co-direct the Initiative. The articles appearing in the double issue of Dædalus can be accessed on the Academy’s website at:

The project is principally supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Kavli Foundation.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. Current Academy research focuses on science and technology policy; global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education. With headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy’s work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business and public affairs from around the world. (




Global Nuclear Future

Steven E. Miller, Robert Rosner, and Scott D. Sagan