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Energy and the Threat

Recently, the Atlantic Council established its Nuclear Energy & National Security Coalition. The coalition is managed under the aegis of the Atlantic Council and is an effort to continue the momentum generated by a US nuclear energy leadership task force report released by the Atlantic Council last year. High on the list of subjects to be addressed under the rubric of national security is climate change, which is one of the greatest threats that this country and the world community has ever faced.

Personally, I become engaged with the coalition because I believe that nuclear energy sits at the nexus of both US diplomacy and global climate security. From the Atoms for Peace era, the global leadership of the United States and its allies helps to ensure that nuclear technology is developed and operated safely, securely, and exclusively for peaceful purposes. Unlike conventional power plants, nuclear power plant service and fuel supply arrangements are highly specialized for the type of reactor. This creates a bond with the original supplier that is strengthened by human capital development programs, regulatory development, and other exchanges—and not easily dislodged by an alternate supplier nation.

As a result, a nation developing nuclear energy for the first time typically forges with its supplier a relationship that endures for the eighty- to one hundred-year life of the nuclear program. This relationship gives the supplier nation a profound and lasting influence on the partner’s nuclear energy policies and practices. The world’s longest-standing civil nuclear partnership is the one that the United States and Japan have enjoyed since 1955, when Japan and the United States signed the US-Japan Nuclear Research Agreement. In mid-December 2019, the coalition participated in the Howard Baker Forum’s US-Japan Roundtable, which was co-hosted by the Atlantic Council.

Read full text on Atlantic Council


Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr. served for nearly three decades at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, including a decade and a half as general counsel as well as Acting Director of the agency for most of 1993. In 1993 he led the effort to establish a long-term moratorium on the conduct of nuclear weapons tests. From 1994 to 1996, he was a principal figure in the worldwide effort to successfully support the conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty negotiations. In 1994 President Clinton appointed Thomas Graham as his special representative for arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, with the rank of Ambassador. From 1993 to 1995 Ambassador Graham led the successful U.S. government effort to indefinitely extend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He has taught at—among others—Stanford University, University of Virginia, Georgetown University, University of Washington and Oregon State University.


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