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THE NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION ACT OF 1978: ORIGINS, CONTRADICTIONS, AND IMPLICATIONS FOR CONTROL OF PEACEFUL NUCLEAR ACTIVITIES (UNITED STATES; CONGRESS, FUEL CYCLE, PLUTONIUM)

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posted on 2023-09-06, 02:56 authored by Robert L. Beckman

The U.S. Congress has written stringent nonproliferation legislation that attempts to tighten U.S. nuclear export criteria and strengthen the international nonproliferation regime. NNPA/78 created worldwide controversy because of its unilateral nature, and assertions by Congress that commercial reprocessing, plutonium and breeder reactors are inherently dangerous. Nonetheless, efforts continue in Congress to close loopholes in nonproliferation law and to prevent commercial trafficking in explosives-grade material. This paper chronicles the history of those efforts, using extensive interviews with members of "the nuclear priesthood" and with nuclear reformers seeking to reorient energy policy and to prevent the "second nuclear era" from repeating the alleged mistakes of the first. Beginning with the Acheson-Lilienthal Report, and moving through both military and commercial nuclear history, the study highlights critical shifts in thought on nuclear dangers: Atoms for Peace, arms control efforts, the NPT, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Energy Reorganization Act, energy crises, the Indian explosion, and crucial legislative roles played by antinuclear activists and zealous congressional staffmembers. Extensive attention is paid to shifts in philosophical orientations in Congress about nuclear power, and to the growing distrust of the AEC, the JCAE, and the IAEA safeguards regime. NNPA/78 is fundamentally a congressional broadside against the momentum to close the nuclear fuel cycle. It reflects the education of Congress to the overlooked dangers of plutonium stockpiles, and is the most important manifestation of disaffections with the nuclear promise. Draft versions of NNPA/78 proved too restrictive for Jimmy Carter's administration; thus, the compromise final legislation watered down inordinately rigid congressional strictures against nuclear exports. However, the law reflects the will of Congress and is not, as is widely believed, the culmination of Carter pathbreaking efforts. An extensive analysis of hearings and committee reports aids the search for definitional clarification of such terms as timely warning, subsequent arrangements, fullscope safeguards and dual-use items. That analysis is current through April 1984 and helps explain efforts in Congress to prevent the Reagan administration's return to nuclear free-market principles, and to solidify congressional ascension in nuclear export policymaking.

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American University

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English

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Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 45-08, Section: A, page: 2641.; Ph.D. American University 1984.; English

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http://hdl.handle.net/1961/thesesdissertations:2092

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application/pdf

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Part of thesis digitization project, awaiting processing.

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