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ME 428




Date: 09/06/2009

A general sympathy for the expansion of nuclear technology is

perceived in almost all leading economies around the world. Some
scenarios are being drawn by futurists predicting that; the overall
nuclear energy production is going to be doubled or tripled by the
year 2050 as well as the introduction of these technologies to some
new markets like Middle East & South Asia.
Some agendas as Global Energy Partnership 2006 and the joint
declaration of the then-presidents of USA and Russia in 2007 are two
signs for this foreseen revival.


One of the major points of nuclear revival is obviously how long

uranium or other fissile materials seem to last. Uranium is actually
not a trace element; on the contrary it can virtually be unearthed
from many parts of the crust, even can be distilled from seawater.

Under mean or high (~%5) expansion assumptions, a gap between

the demand and the supply is to emerge not so later. However as the
demand for uranium increases so does the price of it. That’s to say
uranium exploration would become more profitable at that time.
Apart from these the cost of the fuel in nuclear reactors constitute
but a small portion of the overall operational expenses. Considering
all these; a balance exists between the prices and the market
demand so resources still offer to meet demand for a rather long

Another case worth paying attention is the possible long term

improvements of the currently researched nuclear fuels as bred
plutonium and thorium. Uranium might well be replaced by these
ones within the near future at least partially which would naturally
decrease the consumption rate of it.

Below is a table demonstrating the most abundant uranium reserves

of some countries besides the information given about the running
reactors at these countries;


Uranium Resources in Selected International Atomic Energy Agency

Member States
Country Uranium Percentage of No. of Nuclear
World Resource Power Reactors
(Tons Uranium) (%)
(% Electricity)

Countries with major uranium resources but without nuclear

power reactors

Australia 735 000 23.0


Kazakhstan 530 460 17.0


Namibia 170 532 5 .0


Niger 102 227 3.0


Uzbekistan 79 620 2.5


Mongolia 46 200 1.5


Countries with uranium resources and nuclear power reactors

USA 345 000 11.0

104 (20)

Canada 333 834 10.5


South Africa 315 330 10.0


Russian Fed. 143 020 4.5


Brazil 86 190 3.0

2 (4)

China 35 060 1.1

9 (1.4)
India 40 980 1.3

Countries with many nuclear power reactors but without

significant uranium resources

France No domestic

Germany No domestic

Japan No domestic

Republic of Korea No domestic



To begin with the innovations achieved in nuclear area; one need to

be aware of the general approach of the countries owning this
technology. First of all there is not a single country showing
willingness to share her experiences about these. After all,” it is this
technology by which some countries get able to wipe away its
opponents within very short durations”. Hiroshima and Nagazaki are
two shameful instances as proof. So what then makes them behave
the other way? Actually no one can guarantee the absence of
secretly developed technologies or better to say; no doubt there are
some examples. On the other hand while these states improve their
existing technologies “they don’t want others to suspect them”; so
convey some other developments to the others. All of those states
are serious about the prevention of proliferation. In reality there are
other concerns as well such as to promote lowering carbon emissions
in an indirect way, since we all live on the same planet. As a result
the innovations presented below might actually be “what they let the
others know” in reality.
Keeping the mentions above in mind, there are basically four
branches along which advances are undertaken. These belong to
light water, heavy water, gas cooled
and liquid metal cooled type reactors.

A table is represented below in which the names of these newly

introduced reactors, their developers, capacities & country origins
are included:

Name Country Type Capacity Developer

Light-Water Reactors
B-500 SKDI Russia PWR 515 MWe RRC-

CAREM-25 Argentina PWR 27 MWe CNEA/INVAP

MRX Japan PWR Up to 300 MWth JAERI

RMWR Japan BWR 1,000 MWe JAERI

SCLWR Japan PWR 1,100 MWe University of
SLP-PWR France PWR 600 MWe CEA
SWR 1000 Germany BWR 1,000 MWe Siemens

Heavy-Water Reactors
CANDU X Canada PHWR 350 – 1150MWe AECL

Liquid-Metal Fast Reactors

4S Japan LMR 50 MWe CRIEPI
ALMR (PRISM) USA LMR 150 MWe General Electric
BN-800 Russia LMR 800 MWe Russian Ministry

Atomic Energy
BREST 300 Russia LMR 300 MWe RDIPE
EFR Europe LMR 1,500 MWe EU Consortium
Energy Amplifier Europe Hybrid LMR/ 675 MWe CERN

SAFR USA LMR 450 MWe Rockwell Int./CE

Gas Reactors
GT-MHR USA/Russia HTGR 286 MWe General Atomics
HTR-Module Germany HTGR 80 MWe Siemens-KWU
PBMR South Africa HTGR 110 MWe ESKOM


The latest sharp increases in the oil & natural gas prices as well as
the urgent need to reduce the carbon emissions direct states to a
shift from fosil fuels into nuclear power.
Referring to the table presented at the very above uranium reserves
are kept by some certain countries. In other words there are some
monopolies over the resources. Thus it is questionable, whether
shifting from fosil power plants into nuclear plants can really help a
country to strengthen its energy independence. Rather it seems to
depend on the own resources of that country. Canada, USA, South
Africa etc. are the lucky ones from this perspective while Germany,
France or Japan seem to be the losers.

Nuclear reactors are expensive to build but relatively cheap to

operate. Thus, nuclear power, along with coal, is used to provide
electricity. (coal is 4–5 cents per kWh; nuclear is 7 cents per kWh)
The low cost of nuclear fuel makes this possible. Furthermore any tax
added to the oil prices by governments to contract their
consumption; would eventually fortify the competitiveness of

A real challenge for states seeking to introduce nuclear power plants

to their electricity network is the impact of large generators of to the
overall production rate. A general approach about that is “no single
source of electricity should encompass more than 10 percent of total
electricity production”.
Regarding the situation when a huge capacity nuclear plant is out of
operation due to some reason, even the baseload might not be
delivered. So some developing countries now consider nuclear power
would be better sustained by smaller reactors. Yet the reactors
currently for sale range from 600 to 1,600 megawatts (MW),
and smaller reactors are still largely in the planning stages.On the
other hand from cost point of view, having large capacity generators
would decrease the overall cost. That’s to say there is again a kind
of controversy between two approaches.
This duality may somehow be overcame by integrating the networks
of neighbour states such that a typical purchase-or-sell situation
would endure.

Energy (electricity) production accounts for 41 per cent of the total

carbon emissions. Nuclear power production, essentially, is safe from
this aspect. Though there are some renewable and clean power
production technologies as solar, wind, geothermal etc; they are
mainly intermittent sources. Moreover it is impossible to stock them.
So nuclear power offers a continuous energy supply unlike the ones
stated above. Most of the estimates made to envision the probable
carbon savings of nuclear power plants assume that mainly existing
coal-powered plants are subjected to be replaced by nuclear
alternatives. On the other hand, just as we have pointed earlier, to
be benefited of cost reductions; most states envisage to replace the
oil and gas powered plants by nuclear ones. To express the situation
with a Turkish proverb; they aim to shoot two birds by one shot. As a
result we are faced with another duality.
For instance China and India both increase the number of coal-
powered plants, by adding one 1000 MW capacity each week and
once every two weeks, respectively.
Estimates suggest that 86 percent of the world’s coal demand
through 2030 will come from China and India. Besides both powers
aspire to reach to an approximate additional 50 GW nuclear
production capacity by the year 2020. As anticipated “nuclear power
is not regarded as a substitute for coal” by major powers.
Environmental concern is again on the shoulders of developed
countries which constitute only a small portion of world population.
As a result their share for a substantial decrease in emissions is
limited. Counting for all these by the year 2030 the proportion of
nuclear power for energy generation is foreseen to drop from its
current 16% value to about %10 which is nothing but the
unexpected result to lower the emissions.


The safety of a nuclear plant had always been of major importance
and in the near future it still poses some questions relating human
health or life. There are some basic concerns from the viewpoint of
nuclear safety. These can be ordered as;

-Incident and emergency preparedness and response,

-Civil liability for nuclear damage,

-Radiation protection,

-Radioactive waste management and disposal,


The International Atomic Energy Agency has some guidelines to make its member
states establish a broader safety for their nuclear plants. For instance Response
Assistance Network (RANET), is aimed to be a valuable repository of
information about national assistance capabilities. Such that in case
of an accident the victim state would identify which one to call for

Concerning the liability of civilians to these possible accidents, one

of the measures to be taken is to legislate compensations for the
harmed people. Actually there are some laws in the nuclear capable
states; however the content of these changes from one to another.
On the contrary the long term effects of a large scale accident do not
cease at the boundaries of the country it happened. So in a near
future there must be set international regimes to manage such
incidences and decide how to retrieve the losses caused by the
accidents and to negotiate the included states

The radiation protection as a whole (including theoretical and

practical ways) must be conveyed to the public as much as possible.
To embody the argument, the signs or alarms showing the possibility
of a radiation spread must be introduced in detail to the ones living
nearby along with the urgent precautions needed to be taken.
Indeed this generalization is mostly valid for developing countries in
which public awareness about the virtual aspects and the possible
effects of nuclear technology is relatively primitive.

There are some researches carried by major nuclear powers like USA
and Canada to find safe and long term waste disposal solutions. The
“Intrusion Resistant Underground Structure “(IRUS) for instance, in
which most of the low-level radioactive waste will be stored, can hold
wastes for up to 500 years and the “Shallow Rock Cavity” can
contain wastes that should be isolated for even longer.
As anticipated the main point here is to extend this term as long as
The main cons against these technologies is the enormous cost to
construct these infrastructures which readily can not be handled by
the majority the developing countries. In other words cheaper waste
disposal techniques are of paramount importance for developing

When it comes to the decomissioning of aged plants; indeed there a

bunch of such reactors requiring urgently to be taken out of
operation. One famous one is the “Metsamor Nuclear Plant” in our
problematic neighbour Armenia. A table is presented below to give
an idea of the ages of the reactors aroung the globe;

Plenty of reactors actually had been decomissioned by some

developed countries such as Germany and USA. However the
developing ones are not that willing to take them out of operation
due to the cost of replacing them with the new ones. The coming
days will most probably bring strong controversies between these
blocks through international agencies like IAEA or United Nations.

The strategy for fuel reprocessing is a complex decision with many

factors to be taken into account including politics, economics,
resource conservation, environmental protection. As a result the
future outcomes in this field will be determined extensively by these
factors. Apart from this reprocessing has proved effectiveness and
safety due to its relatively long period of use.

The plutonium recovered by reprocessing can be recycled in light

water reactors as
mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, replacing an equivalent amount of enriched
uranium and thus avoiding the need for enrichment. Despite this
reality; reprocessing is not so profitable as long as uranium is
available at a relatively low price. Therefore the near and medium
term challenges for reprocessing depend on the desire to achieve
economic competitiveness.

One critical issue of reprocessing has been the risk the use of
plutonium for non-peaceful purposes. The leading powers try to
impose strong restrictions on reproccessing facilities due practically
to this reason and they do not seem to change their minds soon as


To conclude there are major issues to be accounted for while making

a guess about the future fate of nuclear energy. As pointed at the
very beginning of the report the footsteps of a nuclear revival can
anyhow be heard. On the other hand the global worries about the
environmental aspects along with the national necessities of
different states do not compromise most of the time. And this
renders the envisioned revival of nuclear power far from certain.

From our national viewpoint, Turkey, which is assertive about being

an unignorable player in world politics; has to set up her nuclear
energy policy very soon properly, without more delay.


-International Atomic Energy Agency, Analysis of Uranium Supply to 2050

(Vienna: International
Atomic Energy Agency, 2001).

-International Atomic Energy Agency, “Uranium Production and Raw Materials for
the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Supply and Demand, Economics, the Environment, and
Security,” in Proceedings from an International Symposium, Vienna, June 20–24,
(Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, 2005), 11.
- G. W. Grandey, “The Nuclear Renaissance: Opportunities and Challenges,”
to IAEA international symposium on “Uranium Production and Raw Materials for
the Nuclear
Fuel Cycle: Supply and Demand, Economics, the Environment, and Energy
Security,” Vienna,
June 20–24, 2005, 19–24.

-Nuclear Energy: Rebirth or Resuscitation? Sharon Squassoni


for International Co-operation INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY
9, rue de la Fédération, 75739 Paris, cedex 15, France
-Nuclear Safety Review for the Year 2007 IAEA/NSR/2007



-International Monterrey Model United Nations Simulation,

American School Foundation of Monterrey