You are on page 1of 29

NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY- SOCIAL

IMPLICATIONS- RESPONSE OF LEGAL


REGIME

Page | 1

Submitted by
Laya Mary Joseph
IX Semester
No: 686

CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION

2. USES OF NUCLEAR ENERGY: SOCIAL IMPICATIONS


2.1 Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy
2.2 Growth of Nuclear Energy
2.3 Nuclear Power Plants
2.4 Nuclear Weapons
3. RESPONSE OF LEGAL REGIME TO NUCLEAR WARS AND NUCLEAR

DISASTERS
3.1 NUCLEAR WARS
3.1.1

Safeguards to Prevent Nuclear Proliferation

3.1.2 The NPT Origins and Objectives


3.1.3 The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Page | 2

3.1.4 Scope of safeguards


3.1.5 Safeguards problems 1980s-90s
3.1.6 Addressing undeclared nuclear activities - the Additional
Protocol
3.1.7 Key elements of the model Additional Protocol
3.1.8 Limitations of safeguards
3.2 NUCLEAR DISASTERS
3.2.1

Social Impact

3.2.2

Impact on Health

3.2.3

Safety measures: Legal sanctions worldwide

3.2.4

World Association of Nuclear Operators

3.2.5

IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety

3.2.6

IAEA Design Safety Reviews and Generic Reactor Safety Reviews

3.2.7

Safety measures taken by India

4. CONCLUSION

1. INTRODUCTION

From earliest days, technology has served politics. Swords have been beaten into plows and
back again into swords. But swords came first. The challenge of the nuclear age is whether
Page | 3

we will be able to reforge the military atom into a "plowshare." The key to success or
catastrophe may well be the process by which nuclear technology is transferred from the
industrially advanced countries to the developing nations. Initially guarded like no other
discovery--except perhaps Byzantium's "Greek fire"- nuclear technology may become, in the
coming decade, common currency among the nations of the earth. If the nuclear technology
now in the offing spreads to countries in the Third World, the protagonist powers may be
faced with a severe problem of arms control in their management of the deterrence system.
The United States and the Soviet Union are finding it difficult to stop proliferation even now,
when this technology is only in the experimental phase and limited to a few powers, only one,
China, a developing country.1
The basic reason that has led to what already seems an impasse is the dual nature of nuclear
technology. Each useful advance in the development of civilian nuclear power is a step
toward providing a military option in non nuclear countries. Recent advances in commercial
applications of nuclear energy have added the promise of economic benefits to the already
powerful status-incentives that normally blend with security considerations in both industrial
and developing countries. A country's international status results as much from its scientific
and economic achievements as from its military capacity. In fact, demonstrations of scientific
competence have diplomatic implications broader than military capacity. They are a measure
of the nation's vitality and of its future status and strength. In Raymond Aron's words:
"Nations which deliberately reject scientific development are choosing to leave the path of
history and to stagnate in backwater." The civilian atom has become so prestigious, and its
economic promise so firmly held, that even countries politically constrained by recent history
from military programs, like Germany, Italy, and Japan, strongly object to the
nonproliferation policies of the protagonist powers. They object, not only because of their
eagerness to compete with the nuclear powers commercially, but because they must use their
achievements in civilian nuclear technology as a surrogate for the military atom in their
politics of international status. These economic and status requirements of nonnuclear,
industrial countries reduce the leverage the protagonist powers have over Third World
countries. This is so because these industrial countries, along with Britain and France, can
serve as alternative sources for advanced nuclear technology and an example of intransigence
1Ciro Zoppo, Nuclear Technology, Weapons, and the Third World, Annals of the American Academy of Political
and Social Science, Vol. 386, Protagonists, Power, and the Third World: Essays on the Changing International
System (Nov., 1969), p 114.

Page | 4

to superpower control. Thus, the peaceful atom, created in atonement by the very scientists
and politicians who liberated the atom for martial ends, seems destined to frustrate
superpower control of proliferation. Failure to halt the universalization of nuclear technology
of military import could lead to an eventual challenge to the leadership of the present
protagonist powers by would-be superpowers from the developing world like China and
India, or, more remotely, Brazil, and, perhaps, Indonesia.2
2. USES OF NUCLEAR ENERGY: SOCIAL IMPICATIONS
2.1 Advantages and Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy3
Before moving onto the uses of Nuclear Energy and its social implications, it is necessary to
identify the pros and cons of Nuclear Energy.
Advantages of Nuclear Energy
1. Low Pollution: Nuclear power also has a lot fewer greenhouse emissions. It has been
determined that the amount of greenhouse gases have decreased by almost half because of the
prevalence in the utilization of nuclear power. Nuclear energy has the least effect on nature
since it doesnt discharge any gasses like methane and carbon dioxide, which are the primary
greenhouse gasses. There is no unfavourable impact on water, land or any territories
because of the utilization of nuclear power, except in times where transportation is utilized.
2. Low Operating Costs: Nuclear power produces very inexpensive electricity. The cost of
the uranium, which is utilized as a fuel in this process, is low. Also, even though the expense
of setting up nuclear power plants is moderately high, the expense of running them is quite
low. The normal life of nuclear reactor is anywhere from 40-60 years, depending on how
often it is used and how it is being used. These variables, when consolidated, make the
expense of delivering power low. Even if the cost of uranium goes up, the impact on the cost
of power will be that much lower.

2 Supra n1
3Rinkesh Kukreja, Nuclear Energy Pros and Cons, See http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/prosand-cons-of-nuclear-energy.php, Conserve Energy Future.
Page | 5

3. Reliability: It is estimated that with the current rate of consumption of uranium, we have
enough uranium for another 70-80 years. A nuclear power plant when in the mode of
producing energy can run uninterrupted for even a year. As solar and wind energy are
dependent upon weather conditions, nuclear power plant has no such constraints and can run
without disruption in any climatic condition.
There are sure monetary focal points in setting up nuclear power plants and utilizing nuclear
energy in lieu of traditional energy. It is one of the significant sources of power all through
the country. The best part is that this energy has a persistent supply. It is broadly accessible,
there is a lot in storage, and it is believed that the supply is going to last much, much longer
than that of fossil fuels that are used in the same capacity.
4. More Proficient than Fossil Fuels: The other primary point of interest of utilizing nuclear
energy is that it is more compelling and more proficient than other energy sources. A number
of nuclear energy innovations have made it a much more feasible choice than others. They
have high energy density as compared to fossil fuels. The amount of fuel required by nuclear
power plant is comparatively less than what is required by other power plants as energy
released by nuclear fission is approximately ten million times greater than the amount of
energy released by fossil fuel atom.
This is one the reason that numerous nations are putting a lot of time and money into nuclear
power. Whats nuclear powers greatest benefit, above any other benefit that we may explore?
It doesnt rely on fossil fuels and isnt influenced by fluctuating oil and gas costs. Coal and
natural gas power plants discharge carbon dioxide into the air, which causes a number
of environmental issues. With nuclear power plants, carbon emissions are insignificant.
5. Renewable: Nuclear energy is not renewable resource. Uranium, the nuclear fuel that is
used to produce nuclear energy is limited and cannot be produced again and again on
demand. On the other hand, by using breeder and fusion reactors, we can produce other
fissionable element. One such element is called plutonium that is produced by the byproducts of chain-reaction. Also, if we know how to control atomic fusion, the same reactions
that fuel the sun, we can have almost unlimited energy.

Page | 6

Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy

1. Environmental Impact: One of the biggest issues is environmental impact in relation to


uranium. The process of mining and refining uranium hasnt been a clean process. Actually
transporting nuclear fuel to and from plants represents a pollution hazard. Also, once the fuel
is used, you cant simply take it to the landfill its radioactive and dangerous.
2. Radioactive Waste Disposal: As a rule, a nuclear power plant creates 20 metric tons of
nuclear fuel per year, and with that comes a lot of nuclear waste. When you consider each
nuclear plant on Earth, you will find that that number jumps to approximately 2,000 metric
tons a year. The greater part of this waste transmits radiation and high temperature, implying
that it will inevitably consume any compartment that holds it. It can also cause damage to
living things in and around the plants.
Nuclear power plants create a lot of low-level radioactive waste as transmitted parts and
supplies. Over time, used nuclear fuel decays to safe radioactive levels, however this takes a
countless number of years. Even low level radioactive waste takes hundreds of years to
achieve adequate levels of safety.
3. Nuclear Accidents: The radioactive waste produced can pose serious health effects on the
lives of people as well as the environment. The Chernobyl accident that occurred on 26 April
1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine was the worst nuclear accident in the
history. Its harmful effects on humans and ecology can still be seen today. Then there was
another accident that happened in Fukushima in Japan. Although the casualties were not that
high, but it caused serious environmental concerns.
4. High Cost: At present, the nuclear business let waste cool for a considerable length of time
before blending it with glass and putting away it in enormous cooled, solid structures. This
waste must be kept up, observed and watched to keep the materials from falling into the
wrong hands and causing problems. These administrations and included materials cost cash
on top of the high expenses needed to put together a plant, which may make it less desirable
to invest in. It requires permission from several international authorities and it is normally
opposed by the people who live in that region.

Page | 7

5. Uranium is Finite: Just like other sources of fuel, uranium is also finite and exists in few
of the countries. It is pretty expensive to mine, refine and transport uranium. It produces
considerable amount of waste during all these activities and can result in environmental
contamination and serous health effects, if not handled properly.
6. Hot Target for Militants: Nuclear energy has immense power. Today, nuclear energy is
used to make weapons. If these weapons go into the wrong hands, that could be the end of
this world. Nuclear power plants are prime target for terrorism activities. Little lax in security
can be brutal for humankind.

2.2 Growth of Nuclear Energy4


Nuclear technology uses the energy released by splitting the atoms of certain elements. It was
first developed in the 1940s, and during the Second World War in 1945 research initially
focussed on producing bombs by splitting the atoms of particular isotopes of either uranium
or plutonium.
In the 1950s attention turned to the peaceful purposes of nuclear fission, notably for power
generation. Today, the world produces as much electricity from nuclear energy as it did from
all sources combined in the early years of nuclear power. Civil nuclear power can now boast
over 16,000 reactor years of experience and supplies almost 11.5% of global electricity
needs, from reactors in 31 countries. In fact, through regional grids, many more than those
countries depend on nuclear-generated power.
Many countries have also built research reactors to provide a source of neutron beams for
scientific research and the production of medical and industrial isotopes. Today, only eight
countries are known to have a nuclear weapons capability. By contrast, 56 operate about 240
civil research reactors, over one third of these in developing countries. Now 31 countries host
over 435 commercial nuclear power reactors with a total installed capacity of over 375,000
MWh. This is more than three times the total generating capacity of France or Germany from
all sources. About 70 further nuclear power reactors are under construction, equivalent to
4 See Nuclear Power in the World Today, Nuclear Engineering International, World Nuclear Association, IAEA,
June 2014.

Page | 8

20% of existing capacity, while over 160 are firmly planned and equivalent to half of present
capacity.
Sixteen countries depend on nuclear power for at least a quarter of their electricity. France
gets around three-quarters of its power from nuclear energy, while Belgium, Czech Republic,
Finland, Hungary, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia and Ukraine get one-third or
more. South Korea and Bulgaria normally get more than 30% of their power from nuclear
energy, while in the USA, UK, Spain, Romania and Russia almost one-fifth is from nuclear.
Japan is used to relying on nuclear power for more than one-quarter of its electricity and is
expected to return to that level. Among countries which do not host nuclear power plants,
Italy and Denmark get almost 10% of their power from nuclear. There are number of
characteristics of nuclear power which make it particularly valuable apart from its actual
generation cost per unit MWh or kWh. Fuel is a low proportion of power cost, giving
power price stability, its fuel is on site (not depending on continuous delivery), it is
dispatchable on demand, it has fairly quick ramp-up, it contributes to clean air and low-CO2
objectives, it gives good voltage support for grid stability. These attributes are mostly not
monetised in merchant markets, but have great value which is increasingly recognised where
dependence on intermittent sources has grown.
2.3 Nuclear power plants5
Nuclear power is an efficient and volatile method of creating electricity using
controlled nuclear fission, or, less commonly, nuclear fusion. Most nuclear power plants
create energy by submerging uranium molecules in water and then inducing fission in the
molecules. This process heats the water, which is transformed into pressurized steam that
turns a turbine powering a generator, creating energy. Some nuclear plants use plutonium or
thorium instead of uranium, while others fuse hydrogen atoms to create helium atoms, a
process that also causes heat and, subsequently, energy. However, uranium fission is
overwhelmingly the most popular form of creating nuclear power because the element is
more common than plutonium or thorium.
Except for the reaction itself, the method by which nuclear plants create power is no different
from coal or oil power plants. Due to the danger of radioactive waste, however, the
5 See http://connection.ebscohost.com/science/nuclear-power/overview-nuclear-power-plants, an
overview of nuclear power plants, EBSCOhost Connection.
Page | 9

infrastructure of nuclear plants is quite different from other types of power plants,
incorporating concrete radiation shields enclosed by steel containment fields.
Because of the serious ramifications of a radiation leak or a plant meltdown, many people are
opposed to nuclear power. The process of creating a nuclear reaction is very precise. If the
process

creates

too

much

heat,

a nuclear

power plant

can

essentially

become

a nuclear bomb. Even with proper nuclear power plant safety, the ability to create suitable
storage and containment facilities for the significant radioactive waste created by nuclear
power plants, which remains toxic for centuries, has remained elusive. Many critics also fear
that in the wrong hands, nuclear materials could be used for weapons instead of for
electricity.
Despite the dangers, a properly running nuclear power plant can be safer and less toxic than
many other types of power plants. Nuclear plants are designed to contain all residual
radioactivity in specialized facilities. Presuming a plant does not have any leaks or structural
problems, it will actually release one hundred times less radioactivity than a coal power plant,
which also expels carbon, sulphur, and other harmful by products directly into the
air. Uranium mining is a dirty process, but not more so than coal mining.
Unlike other alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind, and water, nuclear energy is
capable of producing the massive amounts of electricity necessary to meet the energy needs
of the United States. Though expensive to establish and potentially dangerous, nuclear
power is seen by many as the best tool for achieving sustainable, renewable energy.
2.4 Nuclear Weapons6
Even though the nuclear technology developed was gradually replaced for peaceful purposes,
it created a long lasting negative impact in the world owing to its use in World War II. The
world was caught off guard by the utter destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the U.S.
dropped the 15 kiloton Little Boy and 21 kiloton Fat Man. The two Japanese cities were
levelled in seconds, killing hundreds of thousands from the initial blast and later radiation
poisoning. It would be difficult to call their impact small, but those bombs were only a
shadow of the weapons to come.
6 See http://www.visualnews.com/2012/04/24/visualizing-the-frightening-power-of-nuclear-bombs/,
Visualizing the frightening power of Nuclear Bombs, Benjamin Starr, 2012
Page | 10

Following the war, with the growing Cold War and nuclear arms race between the U.S.S.R.
and the U.S., devastatingly large bombs were introduced, growing in size and destructive
power with each year. The pinnacle of nuclear bomb development came with the aptly
named Tsar Bomba, which the Russians nicknamed the Kuzkina Mat (roughly translating to
we will show you). The behemoth bomb tipped the explosive scales at a frightening 50,000
kilotons 3,333 times larger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. When the weapon was
released over Russia on October 30th 1960, it produced a mushroom cloud 40 miles high, or
almost 8 times the hight of Mt. Everest. The resulting fireball would have produced third
degree burns 62 miles away and it even broke windows in Finland and Norway.
One of the fundamental differences between a nuclear and a conventional explosion is that
nuclear explosions can be many thousands (or millions) of times more powerful than the
largest conventional detonations. Both types of weapons rely on the destructive force of the
blast or shock wave. However, the temperatures reached in a nuclear explosion are very much
higher than in a conventional explosion, and a large proportion of the energy in a nuclear
explosion is emitted in the form of light and heat, generally referred to as thermal energy.
This energy is capable of causing skin burns and of starting fires at considerable distances.
Nuclear explosions are also accompanied by various forms of radiation, lasting a few seconds
to remaining dangerous over an extended period of time.
Approximately 85 percent of the energy of a nuclear weapon produces air blast (and shock),
thermal energy (heat). The remaining 15 percent of the energy is released as various type of
nuclear radiation. Of this, 5 percent constitutes the initial nuclear radiation, defined as that
produced within a minute or so of the explosion, are mostly gamma rays and neutrons. The
final 10 percent of the total fission energy represents that of the residual (or delayed) nuclear
radiation, which is emitted over a period of time. This is largely due to the radioactivity of the
fission products present in the weapon residues, or debris, and fallout after the explosion.
3. RESPONSE OF LEGAL REGIME TO NUCLEAR WARS AND NUCLEAR
DISASTERS
3.1 NUCLEAR WARS7
7 See http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Non-Proliferation/Safeguards-toPrevent-Nuclear-Proliferation/, Safeguards to prevent Nuclear Proliferation, World Nuclear
Association.
Page | 11

3.1.1 Safeguards to Prevent Nuclear Proliferation

The initial development of nuclear technology was for military, during World War II. Two
nuclear bombs made from uranium-235 and plutonium-239 were dropped on Japan's
Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively in August 1945 and these brought the long war to a
sudden end. The immense and previously unimaginable power of the atom had been
demonstrated. Then attention turned to civil applications. In the course of half a century
nuclear technology has enabled access to a virtually unlimited source of energy at a time
when constraints are arising on the use of fossil fuels.
In the 1960s it was widely assumed that there would be 30-35 nuclear weapons states by the
turn of the century. In fact there were eight a tremendous testimony to the effectiveness of
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its incentives both against weapons and for
civil nuclear power, despite the baleful influence of the Cold War (1950s to 80s) which saw a
massive build-up of nuclear weapons particularly by the USA and the Soviet Union.
The nuclear non-proliferation regime is much more than the NPT, although this is the preeminent international treaty on the subject. The regime includes treaties, conventions and
common (multilateral and bilateral) arrangements covering security and physical protection,
export controls, nuclear test-bans and, potentially, fissile material production cut-offs. The
international community can apply pressure to states outside the NPT to make every possible
effort to conform to the full range of international norms on nuclear non-proliferation that
make up this regime. This was seen over 2007-08 with India.
3.1.2 The NPT Origins and Objectives
Over the past 35 years the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) safeguards system
under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) has been a conspicuous international
success in curbing the diversion of civil uranium into military uses. It has involved
cooperation in developing nuclear energy while ensuring that civil uranium, plutonium and
associated plants are used only for peaceful purposes and do not contribute in any way to
proliferation of nuclear weapons programs. In 1995 the NPT was extended indefinitely. Its
scope is also being widened to include undeclared nuclear activities.

Page | 12

Most countries have renounced nuclear weapons, recognising that possession of them would
threaten rather than enhance national security. They have therefore embraced the NPT as a
public commitment to use nuclear materials and technology only for peaceful purposes.
The successful conclusion, in 1968, of negotiations on the NPT was a landmark in the history
of non-proliferation. After coming into force in 1970, its indefinite extension in May 1995
was another. The NPT was essentially an agreement among the five nuclear weapons states
and the other countries interested in nuclear technology. The deal was that assistance and
cooperation would be traded for pledges, backed by international scrutiny, that no plant or
material would be diverted to weapons' use. Those who refused to be part of the deal would
be excluded from international cooperation or trade involving nuclear technology.
At present, 189 states plus Taiwan are parties to the NPT. These include all five declared
Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) which had manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon
before 1967: China, France, the Russian Federation, the UK and the USA. The main
countries remaining outside the NPT are Israel, India and Pakistan, though North Korea has
moved to join them. These all have weapons programs which have come to maturity since
1970, so they cannot join without renouncing and dismantling those. In 2008 special
arrangements were agreed internationally for India, bringing it part way in, and its ratification
of the Additional Protocol in 2014 put it on a similar footing to the five NWS. In mid-2013,
181 states plus Taiwan had safeguards agreements with IAEA in force.
The NPT's main objectives are to stop the further spread of nuclear weapons, to provide
security for non-nuclear weapon states which have given up the nuclear option, to encourage
international co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to pursue negotiations
in good faith towards nuclear disarmament leading to the eventual elimination of nuclear
weapons.
The most important factor underpinning the safeguards regime is international political
pressure and how particular nations perceive their long-term security interests in relation to
their immediate neighbours. The solution to nuclear weapons proliferation is thus political
more than technical, and it certainly goes beyond the question of uranium availability.
International pressure not to acquire weapons is enough to deter most states from developing
a weapons program. The major risk of nuclear weapons' proliferation will always lie with

Page | 13

countries which have not joined the NPT and which have significant unsafeguarded nuclear
activities, and those which have joined but disregard their treaty commitments.
3.1.3 The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
The IAEA was set up by unanimous resolution of the United Nations in 1957 to help nations
develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Allied to this role is the administration of
safeguards arrangements. This provides assurance to the international community that
individual countries are honouring their treaty commitments to use nuclear materials and
facilities exclusively for peaceful purposes.
The IAEA therefore undertakes regular inspections of civil nuclear facilities to verify the
accuracy of documentation supplied to it. The agency checks inventories and undertakes
sampling and analysis of materials. Safeguards are designed to deter diversion of nuclear
material by increasing the risk of early detection. They are complemented by controls on the
export of sensitive technology from countries such as UK and USA through voluntary bodies
such as the Nuclear Suppliers' Group. Safeguards are backed up by the threat of international
sanctions.
3.1.4 Scope of safeguards
It is important to understand that nuclear safeguards are a means of reassurance whereby nonnuclear weapons states demonstrate to others that they are abiding by their peaceful
commitments. They prevent nuclear proliferation in the same way that auditing procedures
build confidence in proper financial conduct and prevent embezzlement. Their specific
objective is to verify whether declared (usually traded) nuclear material remains within the
civil nuclear fuel cycle and is being used solely for peaceful purposes or not.
Non-nuclear-weapons state parties to the NPT agree to accept technical safeguards measures
applied by the IAEA. These require that operators of nuclear facilities maintain and declare
detailed accounting records of all movements and transactions involving nuclear material.
Almost 900 nuclear facilities and several hundred other locations in 57 non-nuclear-weapons
countries are subject to regular inspection. Their records and the actual nuclear material are
audited. Inspections by the IAEA are complemented by other measures such as surveillance
cameras and instrumentation.

Page | 14

The aim of traditional IAEA safeguards is to deter the diversion of nuclear material from
peaceful use by maximising the risk of early detection. At a broader level they provide
assurance to the international community that countries are honouring their treaty
commitments to use nuclear materials and facilities exclusively for peaceful purposes. In this
way safeguards are a service both to the international community and to individual states,
who recognise that it is in their own interest to demonstrate compliance with these
commitments.
The inspections act as an alert system providing a warning of the possible diversion of
nuclear material from peaceful activities. The system relies on;

Material Accountability tracking all inward and outward transfers and the
flow of materials in any nuclear facility. This includes sampling and analysis of
nuclear material, on-site inspections, review and verification of operating
records.

Physical Security restricting access to nuclear materials at the site of use.

Containment and Surveillance use of seals, automatic cameras and other


instruments to detect unreported movement or tampering with nuclear materials,
as well as spot checks on-site.

All NPT non-weapons states must accept these 'full-scope' safeguards, which apply to all
nuclear facilities in the country. In the five weapons states plus the non-NPT states (India,
Pakistan and Israel), facility-specific safeguards apply to relevant plants. IAEA inspectors
regularly visit these facilities to verify completeness and accuracy of records.
Uranium supplied to nuclear weapons states is not, under the NPT, covered by safeguards.
However normally there is at least a "peaceful use" clause in the supply contract, and in the
case of Australia, a bilateral safeguards agreement is required which does cover all uranium
supplied and all materials arising from it (as "Australian obligated nuclear materials"
AONM). Neither the peaceful use clause nor the bilateral treaty means that materials are
restricted to facilities on the state's list of facilities eligible for IAEA inspection.

Page | 15

The NPT is supplemented by other safeguards systems such as those among certain European
nations (Euratom Safeguards) and between individual countries (bilateral agreements) such as
Australia and customer countries for its uranium, or Japan and the USA.
The terms of the NPT cannot be enforced by the IAEA itself, nor can nations be forced to
sign the treaty. In reality, as shown in Iran and North Korea, safeguards are backed up by
diplomatic, political and economic measures.
3.1.5 Safeguards problems 1980s-90s
Iraq, Iran and North Korea illustrate both the strengths and weaknesses of international
safeguards. While accepting safeguards at declared facilities, Iraq and Iran had set up
elaborate equipment elsewhere in an attempt to enrich uranium, in Iraq's case, to weapons
grade. North Korea used research reactors (not commercial electricity-generating reactors)
and a reprocessing plant to produce some weapons-grade plutonium.
The weakness of the NPT regime lay in the fact that no obvious diversion of material was
involved. The uranium used as fuel probably came from indigenous sources, and the key
nuclear facilities concerned were built by the countries themselves without being declared to
the IAEA or placed safeguards arrangements. Iraq, as an NPT party, was obliged to declare
all facilities but did not do so. Nor, more recently, did Iran. In North Korea, the activities
concerned took place before the conclusion of its NPT safeguards agreement, using a Russian
"research" reactor and clandestine reprocessing plant.
Nevertheless, the activities were detected and in Iraq and North Korea, brought under control
using international diplomacy. In Iraq, a military defeat assisted this process, but North Korea
posed possibly the most intractable situation confronted by the IAEA. This has since been
matched by Iran.
So, while traditional safeguards easily verified the correctness of formal declarations by
suspect states, in the 1990s attention turned to what might not have been declared, outside the
known materials flows and facilities.
3.1.6 Addressing undeclared nuclear activities - the Additional Protocol

Page | 16

Following discovery of Iraq's clandestine program, in 1993 a program was initiated to


strengthen and extend the classical safeguards system, and a model protocol was agreed by
the IAEA Board of Governors in 1997. This was to boost the IAEA's ability to detect
undeclared nuclear activities, including those with no connection to the civil fuel cycle.
Innovations were of two kinds. Some could be implemented on the basis of IAEA's existing
legal authority through safeguards, agreements and inspections. Others required further legal
authority to be conferred through an Additional Protocol. This must be agreed by each nonweapons state with IAEA, as a supplement to their existing comprehensive safeguards
agreement. NPT Weapons States (and India) have also agreed to accept the principles of the
model Additional Protocol, though the function there is different.
3.1.7 Key elements of the model Additional Protocol:

The IAEA is given considerably more information on nuclear and nuclear-related


activities, including R&D, production of uranium and thorium (regardless of
whether it is traded) and nuclear-related imports and exports.

IAEA inspectors have greater rights of access. This includes any suspect location,
at short notice (eg. two hours), and the IAEA can deploy environmental sampling
and remote monitoring techniques to detect illicit activities.

States must streamline administrative procedures so that IAEA inspectors get


automatic visa renewal and can COMMUNICATE more readily with IAEA
headquarters.

All these elements enhance the IAEA's ability to provide assurances that all nuclear activities
and material in the country concerned has been declared for safeguards purposes.
As of August 2014, 124 states plus Taiwan, Greenland and Euratom had Additional Protocols
in force, and 20 more including Belarus and Iran had them approved and signed but not yet in
force. There are 70 states plus Taiwan with significant nuclear activities. Those remaining
without an Additional Protocol include Israel, Pakistan and North Korea all outside the
NPT anyway.

Page | 17

Further evolution of safeguards is towards evaluation of each state, taking account of its
particular situation and the kind of nuclear materials it has. This will involve greater
judgement on the part of IAEA and the development of effective methodologies which
reassure NPT States.
Where non-weapons states have a safeguards agreement with the IAEA and an Additional
Protocol in force, the IAEA is able to say each year not only that declared nuclear material
remains in peaceful activities, but also that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or
activities.
For Nuclear Weapons States, the purpose of the Additional Protocol is different, namely to
provide the IAEA with information on nuclear supply to, and cooperation with, non-weapons
states. Such information assists the IAEA in its objective of detecting any undeclared
activities in non-weapons states. (In this context India is understood to be effectively a
Nuclear Weapons State, and the Additional Protocol for it was agreed by the IAEA in March
2009, and ratified by India in June 2014.)
3.1.8 Limitations of safeguards
Apart from situations addressed by the Additional Protocol, the greatest risk of nuclear
weapons proliferation lies with countries which have not joined the NPT and which have
significant unsafeguarded nuclear activities. India, Pakistan and Israel are in this category.
While safeguards apply to some of their activities, others remain beyond scrutiny.
A further concern is that countries may develop various sensitive nuclear fuel cycle facilities
and research reactors under full safeguards and then subsequently opt out of the NPT.
Bilateral agreements such as insisted upon by Australia and Canada for sale of uranium
address this by including fallback provisions, but many countries are outside the scope of
these agreements. If a nuclear-capable country does leave the NPT it is likely to be reported
by the IAEA to the UN Security Council, just as if it were in breach of its safeguards
agreement. Trade sanctions would then be likely.
IAEA safeguards together with bilateral safeguards applied under the NPT can, and do,
ensure that uranium supplied by countries such as Australia and Canada does not contribute
to nuclear weapons proliferation. In fact the worldwide application of those safeguards and

Page | 18

the substantial world trade in uranium for nuclear electricity make the proliferation of nuclear
weapons much less likely.
The Additional Protocol, once it is widely in force will provide credible assurance that there
are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in the states concerned. This will be a major
step forward in preventing nuclear proliferation.
By mid 2004 a total of 57 countries plus Taiwan had ratified the Additional Protocol.
However, of 71 countries with significant nuclear activities, 25 have yet to bring it into force.
However, of 71 countries with significant nuclear activities, four NPT parties have not yet
signed the Additional Protocol and another ten have not fully ratified it (another four of the
71 are outside the NPT).

3.2 NUCLEAR DISASTERS8


There have been a number of serious nuclear incidents since the 1950s. Below are details of
the most serious.
Mayak or Kyshtym nuclear complex (Soviet Union): 29 September 1957
A fault in the cooling system at the nuclear complex, near Chelyabinsk, results in a chemical
explosion and the release of an estimated 70 to 80 tonnes of radioactive materials into the air.
Thousands of people are exposed to radiation and thousands more are evacuated from their
homes. It is categorised as Level 6 on the seven-point International Nuclear Events Scale
(INES).
Three Mile Island power plant, Pennsylvania (US): 29 March 1979
A cooling malfunction causes a partial meltdown in one reactor, resulting in a limited release
of radioactivity (INES Level 5).The site's first reactor (TMI One) on the Susquehanna river
was closed for refuelling. The second was at full capacity when two malfunctions occurred:
first there was a release of radioactive water, then radioactive gas was detected on the

8See http://www.bbc.com/news/world-13047267, Nuclear Plant accidents, BBC News, September


2011
Page | 19

perimeter. No deaths or injuries were reported. It is considered the United States' worst
nuclear accident and led to major safety changes in the industry.
Chernobyl power plant (Soviet Union): 26 April 1986
One of four reactors explodes after an experiment at the power plant (INES Level 7). The
resulting fire burns for nine days and at least 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs
dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima is released into the air. Radioactive deposits are found in
nearly every country in the northern hemisphere.
Two people die in the explosion and another 28 from acute radiation sickness in the
immediate aftermath. Some experts predict thousands of extra cancer deaths as a result of the
disaster.
A huge cover, known as the New Safe Confinement, is being built over the existing
sarcophagus. It is expected to cover the site by 2013.
Tokaimura nuclear fuel processing facility (Japan): 30 September 1999
Workers break safety regulations by mixing dangerously large amounts of treated uranium in
metal buckets, setting off a nuclear reaction (INES Level 4).
Two of the workers later die from their injuries, and more than 40 others are treated for
exposure to high levels of radiation.
Hundreds of residents living nearby were evacuated from their homes while the nuclear
reaction continued, but were allowed home two days later.
Fukushima Daiichi power plant (Japan): 11 March 2011
A powerful tsunami generated by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake out at sea slams into the
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, damaging four of six reactors at the site.
A series of fires are set off, after cooling systems fail. Venting hydrogen gas from the reactors
causes explosions, forcing engineers to use seawater in an effort to cool overheating reactor
cores.
Originally classified as INES Level 5, the severity was raised to INES Level 7 on 12 April
2011 when a new estimate suggested higher levels of radiation than previously thought had
leaked from the plant.
Page | 20

Despite the classification, the incident is said to be much less severe than Chernobyl, and
officials insist there is only a minimal risk to public health.
3.2.1 Social Impact of Nuclear Disaster9
Of all the environmental disaster events that humans are capable of causing, nuclear disasters
have the greatest damage potential. The radiation release associated with a nuclear disaster
poses significant acute and chronic risks in the immediate environs and chronic risk over a
wide geographic area. Radioactive contamination, which typically becomes airborne, is longlived, with half-lives guaranteeing contamination for hundreds of years.
Concerns over potential nuclear disasters centre on nuclear reactors, typically those used to
generate electric power. Other concerns involve the transport of nuclear waste and the
temporary storage of spent radioactive fuel at nuclear power plants. The fear that terrorists
would target a radiation source or create a "dirty bomb" capable of dispersing radiation over a
populated area was added to these concerns following the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York
City and Washington, D.C.
Radioactive emissions of particular concern include strontium-90 and cesium-137, both
having thirty-year-plus half-lives, and iodine-131, having a short half-life of eight days but
known to cause thyroid cancer. In addition to being highly radioactive, cesium-137 is
mistaken for potassium by living organisms. This means that it is passed on up the food chain
and bio accumulated by that process. Strontium-90 mimics the properties of calcium and is
deposited in bones where it may either cause cancer or damage bone marrow cells.
Concern became reality at 1:23 A.M. on April 25, 1986, when the worst civil nuclear
catastrophe in history occurred at the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, Soviet Union (which
is now in Ukraine). More than thirty people were killed immediately. The radiation release
was thirty to forty times that of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.
Hundreds of thousands of people were ultimately evacuated from the most heavily
contaminated zone surrounding Chernobyl. Radiation spread to encompass almost all of
Europe and Asia Minor; the world first learned of the disaster when a nuclear facility in
Sweden recorded abnormal radiation levels.
9 See http://www.pollutionissues.com/Co-Ea/Disasters-Nuclear-Accidents.html, Disasters: Nuclear
Accidents, Richard M. Stapleton.
Page | 21

Chernobyl had four RBMK-type reactors. These reactors suffer from instability at low power
and are susceptible to rapid, difficult-to-control power increases. The accident occurred as
workers were testing reactor number four. The test was being conducted improperly; as few
as six control rods were in place despite orders stating that a minimum of thirty rods were
necessary to maintain control, and the reactor's emergency cooling system had been shut
down as part of the test. An operator error caused the reactor's power to drop below specified
levels, setting off a catastrophic power surge that caused fuel rods to rupture, triggering
explosions that first destroyed the reactor core and then blew apart the reactors' massive steel
and concrete containment structure.
The health impacts of the Chernobyl explosion will never be fully known. It is estimated that
some three million people still live in contaminated areas and almost ten thousand people still
live in Chernobyl itself. The plant itself was not fully shut down until nearly fifteen years
after the disaster. Studies by the Belarus Ministry of Health, located approximately eighty
miles south of Chernobyl, found that rates of thyroid cancer began to soar in contaminated
regions in 1990, four years after the radiation release. Gomel, Belarus, the most highly
contaminated region studied, reported thirty-eight cases in 1991. Gomel normally recorded
only one to two cases per year. Health officials in Turkey, 930 miles to the south, reported
that leukaemia rates are twelve times higher than before the Chernobyl accident.
3.2.2 Impact on Health10
Apart from the damage caused by fires and explosions, accidents also release radioactive
materials which can cause radiation sickness. Radiation exposure above a certain threshold,
usually only received by workers and emergency teams in a stricken plant, causes acute
radiation syndrome within hours of exposure. Depending on the dose of radiation this ranges
from skin rashes, vomiting and diarrhoea, to coma and death.
Radiation damages DNA, especially as it assembles in dividing cells. That means tissues
which contain many dividing cells, such as the gut lining, skin and bone marrow, are most at
risk of damage. High enough doses also damage brain cells and such doses are invariably
fatal.

10See https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20244-briefing-how-nuclear-accidents-damagehuman-health/, Debora MacKenzie, 2011.


Page | 22

Less severe damage can be treated, however. Gut damage disturbs fluid balance and can lead
to blood infection; marrow damage means no blood cells are produced for clotting and
fighting infection. If those problems can be managed, people can be kept alive long enough
for gut and marrow to regenerate. A cloned human hormone that boosts white blood cell
production sometimes helps; there is little else.
Fears of nuclear terrorism have recently inspired more funding for research into new
treatments, most aiming to limit cell death in damaged tissues.

Exposure to any radioactive material is bad: the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission assumes
that exposure to anything higher than normal background levels increases health risks.
Xenon and krypton are not retained by the body so they have little effect.
Iodine-131 and caesium are more damaging, however. Iodine is actively taken up by the
thyroid gland to make hormones. If iodine-131, which emits beta particles, is taken up, this
can damage DNA and cause thyroid cancer.
Following the Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion in Ukraine in 1986, more than 6000
people developed thyroid cancer, probably after drinking contaminated milk as children,
according to an investigation by the UN released in February. For unknown reasons iodine131 does not seem to affect adults.
These cancers can be prevented if children are given pills containing the non-radioactive
isotope of iodine soon after exposure. These saturate the thyroid with safe iodine and stop it
taking up the radioactive kind. Most children did not get these pills after Chernobyl. They are
now being distributed in Japan.
Vast amounts of caesium-137 were distributed across 40 per cent of Europes surface after
Chernobyl. Environmental levels remain elevated in wildlife, with restrictions still in place on
eating some sheep farmed in the UK, and game and mushrooms from elsewhere. However,
exposure to environmental caesium-137 from Chernobyl has never been linked conclusively
to any direct health effects in people, although researchers are divided over whether there is
no effect, or just not enough data to say.
Page | 23

3.2.3 Safety measures: Legal sanctions worldwide11:3.2.4 World Association of Nuclear Operators
There is a great deal of international cooperation on nuclear safety issues, in particular the
exchange of operating experience under the auspices of the World Association of Nuclear
Operators (WANO) which was set up in 1989. In practical terms this is the most effective
international means of achieving very high levels of safety through its four major programs:
peer reviews; operating experience; technical support and exchange; and professional and
technical development. WANO peer reviews are the main proactive way of sharing
experience and expertise, and by the end of 2009 every one of the world's commercial
nuclear power plants had been peer-reviewed at least once. Following the Fukushima
accident these have been stepped up to one every four years at each plant, with follow-up
visits in between, and the scope extended from operational safety to include plant design
upgrades. Pre-startup reviews of new plants are being increased.
3.2.5 IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety
The IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) was drawn up during a series of expert level
meetings from 1992 to 1994 and was the result of considerable work by Governments,
national nuclear safety authorities and the IAEA Secretariat. Its aim is to legally commit
participating States operating land-based nuclear power plants to maintain a high level of
safety by setting international benchmarks to which States would subscribe.
The obligations of the Parties are based to a large extent on the principles contained in the
IAEA Safety Fundamentals document The Safety of Nuclear Installations. These obligations
cover for instance, siting, design, construction, operation, the availability of adequate
financial and human resources, the assessment and verification of safety, quality assurance
and emergency preparedness.
The Convention is an incentive instrument. It is not designed to ensure fulfillment of
obligations by Parties through control and sanction, but is based on their common interest to
achieve higher levels of safety. These levels are defined by international benchmarks
11 See http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Safety-of-Plants/Safety-of-NuclearPower-Reactors/, Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors, World Nuclear Association.
Page | 24

developed and promoted through regular meetings of the Parties. The Convention obliges
Parties to report on the implementation of their obligations for international peer review. This
mechanism is the main innovative and dynamic element of the Convention. Under the
Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) program dating from 1982 international teams of
experts conduct in-depth reviews of operational safety performance at a nuclear power plant.
They review emergency planning, safety culture, radiation protection, and other areas.
OSART missions are on request from the government, and involve staff from regulators, in
these respects differing from WANO peer reviews.
The Convention entered into force in October 1996. As of September 2009, there were 79
signatories to the Convention, 66 of which are contracting parties, including all countries
with operating nuclear power plants.
The IAEA General Conference in September 2011 unanimously endorsed the Action Plan on
Nuclear Safety that Ministers requested in June. The plan arose from intensive consultations
with Member States but not with industry, and was described as both a rallying point and a
blueprint for strengthening nuclear safety worldwide. It contains suggestions to make nuclear
safety more robust and effective than before, without removing the responsibility from
national bodies and governments. It aims to ensure "adequate responses based on scientific
knowledge and full transparency". Apart from strengthened and more frequent IAEA peer
reviews (including those of regulatory systems), most of the 12 recommended actions are to
be undertaken by individual countries and are likely to be well in hand already.
Following this, an extraordinary general meeting of 64 of the CNS parties in September 2012
gave a strong push to international collaboration in improving safety. National reports at
future three-yearly CNS review meetings will cover a list of specific design, operational and
organizational issues stemming from Fukushima lessons. They include further design features
to avoid long-term offsite contamination and enhancement of emergency preparedness and
response measures, including better definition of national responsibilities and improved
international cooperation. Parties should also report on measures to "ensure the effective
independence of the regulatory body from undue influence."
In February 2015 diplomats from 72 countries unanimously adopted the Vienna Declaration
of Nuclear Safety, setting out principles to guide them, as appropriate, in the implementation
of the objective of the CNS to prevent accidents with radiological consequences and mitigate
Page | 25

such consequences should they occur but rejected Swiss amendments to the CNS as
impractical. However, in line with Swiss and EU intentions, "comprehensive and systematic
safety assessments are to be carried out periodically and regularly for existing installations
throughout their lifetime in order to identify safety improvements... Reasonably practicable or
achievable safety improvements are to be implemented in a timely manner."
3.2.6 IAEA Design Safety Reviews and Generic Reactor Safety Reviews
An IAEA Design Safety Review (DSR) is performed at the request of a member state
organization to evaluate the completeness and comprehensiveness of a reactor's safety
documentation by an international team of senior experts. It is based on IAEA published
safety requirements. If the DSR is for a vendors design at the pre-licensing stage, it is done
using the Generic Reactor Safety Review (GRSR) module. IAEA Safety Standards applied in
the DSR and GRSR at the fundamental and requirements level, are generic and apply to all
nuclear installations. Therefore, it is neither intended nor possible to cover or substitute
licensing

activity,

or

to

constitute

any

kind

of

design

certification.

DSRs have been undertaken in Pakistan, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Armenia. GRSRs have been
done on AP1000 (USA & UK), Atmea1, APR1400, ACPR-1000+, ACP1000, and AES-2006
and VVER-TOI.

3.2.7 Safety measures taken by India12


India has also witnessed a few significant events at its NPPs, namely a large fire at NAPS in
1993, flooding at KAPS-1&2 in 1994, and tsunami at MAPS-1&2 in 2004. Lessons learnt
from these events, as also from relevant events at NPPs abroad, have been incorporated by
appropriate improvements in design and operating procedures. The two LWR units at
Kudankulam and the FBR at Kalpakkam are of advanced designs. Besides having all the
regular design safety features, they incorporate passive air cooled systems for removal of core
heat during emergency conditions. Nuclear Safety Review Although the primary
responsibility of safety of nuclear plants lies with the owner, regulatory supervision is
12 S.K. CHANDE, Vice Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Addressing Safety of Indian
Nuclear Power Plants, p 4.
Page | 26

necessary to verify full compliance with safety requirements and providing assurance to
society about safety of NPPs. Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) was created in 1983
to formally regulate safety in nuclear and radiation facilities in India. Over the years AERB
has evolved a robust process for safety review and issue of consents at various stages of
setting up of these facilities, in line with the best international practices and International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guidelines.
Safety Performance of Indian NPPs The effectiveness and success of Indian regulatory
process can be gauged from the history and statistics of safe operation of the nuclear facilities
in India. Till date, there has not been any event in any of the nuclear power plants of India
which has resulted in adverse radiological impact on the environment. As per the
International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), events are rated in the scale from
Level-1 (anomaly) to Level7 (major accident) depending on the radiological release and its
impact. The Chernobyl and Fukushima accident were rated at Level-7. Out of 156 events
reported from the Indian NPPs in the last five years, 140 belonged to Level-0 (i.e no safety
significance) and the remaining 16 were of Level 1. The two major events of safety
significance are the fire incident in turbine building at Narora Atomic Power Station (1993,
INES Scale Level 3) and unintended power excursion in Kakrapar Atomic Power Station
(2004, INES 11 Scale Level 2). In both these events, there had been no radiological impact on
the workers, public or the environment. Radiation monitoring of the workers, public and the
environment provides assurance that safety practices in various aspects of NPP operation are
well implemented. The average dose received by the workers in Indian NPP is only a fraction
of the dose limit. The public dose due to environmental releases from NPP is only 1-2% of
the limit.

CONCLUSION
NPT was not intended to lead towards a world without nuclear weapons. Initially when it was
drafted, it was meant as a bargain between the nuclear weapon powers and non-nuclear
weapon states for 25 years. The nuclear weapon powers were meant to not expand their
arsenals and had to negotiate in good faith for nuclear disarmament while the non-nuclear
weapon states were meant to not acquire nuclear weapons.

Page | 27

The nuclear weapon states did not keep their side of the bargain. Then, in 1995 at the end of
25-year period, they got the NPT extended indefinitely and unconditionally thereby
legitimising the nuclear weapons in the hands of the five nuclear powers. If the nuclear
weapons were legitimate for five powers, they would also be for all other powers who have
not bound themselves not to acquire them. India, Israel and Pakistan did not break any
international law when they acquired nuclear weapons.
India has been a consistent advocate of nuclear disarmament since the inception of the United
Nations. India became a reluctant nuclear weapon state faced with two nuclear neighbours
with an ongoing proliferation relationship going back to 1976, with one of them declaring its
nuclear arsenal as India-specific. At the time the NPT was under discussion, Indira Gandhi
sent Indian emissary L.K.Jha and Dr Vikram Sarabhai to Moscow, Paris, London and
Washington to seek nuclear security assurances for India if it were to sign the NPT. Those
assurances were denied and therefore India did not sign the NPT faced with a Maoist China.
While China may have adopted a no first use policy its surrogate Pakistan, which it had
equipped with nuclear weapons and missiles, asserts its nuclear policy is India-specific and it
has a policy of first use of nuclear weapons under certain circumstances. In 1998 Pakistan
tested its Ghauri missile. Under those circumstances, India was compelled to test and declare
itself a nuclear weapon state.
India found a compromise between its commitment to nuclear disarmament and its security
imperatives faced with two nuclear adversaries in the strategy of no first use. The world has
recognised the Indian record of restrained and responsible behaviour and consequently
granted India waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines by means of an agreement
in 2008 subject to the ratification of Additional Protocol with regard to safeguards by IAEA.
Even though NPT was able to curb the rise of nuclear weapons in the world by strict
conformation to the Treaty by the member states, the question to be raised in the present
scenario is how far the NPT was able to curb the five Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) from
not misusing their nuclear power. Was it able to curb the NWS from not dominating the other
non nuclear weapon states who signed the treaty? Was it able to give adequate protection to
the non nuclear weapon states like Ukraine from Russia, a NWS, during the annexation of
Crimea even under the threat of use of nuclear weapons?

Page | 28

Page | 29