By January 6, 2021 Read More →

Workshop on Evaluating Strategies to Restore U.S. Leadership in the International Nuclear Market and Control Regimes

The Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making (CEDM), in conjunction with the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University organized a small invitational workshop on “Evaluating Strategies to Restore U.S. Leadership in the International Nuclear Market and Control Regimes.” The workshop, took place on September 26-27th 2018, in Washington, D.C. The workshop brought in 21 experts from academia, think tanks, government, and industry. Participants were evenly split in terms of expertise: half had backgrounds in nuclear security and nonproliferation and half had backgrounds in nuclear power. 

The workshop began with presentations on the current state of the commercial nuclear enterprise in the U.S. and abroad. This was followed by an overview of the international nuclear material control regimes. All of the participants were then given one hour during which they were presented with six premises, in the form of questions, for which they would then discuss amongst the group:

  1. Do you believe that there has in fact been a loss of U.S. influence on nuclear matters, specifically on setting global nuclear safety and security standards?
  2. The idea of “loss of status” or “loss of influence” vis-˝ˇa-vis the international control regimes may seem somewhat nebulous. Do you have any thoughts on how to operationalize this concept so that the arguments made might be more empirically grounded? What metrics or strategies would you suggest?
  3. Having spent the morning discussing the adverse impacts of eroding U.S. leadership in nuclear matters on global nuclear safety and security standards, we’d like your assessment of the extent to which you consider this to be a problem.
  4. One of our premises is that over the past half century U.S. influence on the international nuclear control regime has generally been positive and constructive. To what extent do you agree?
  5. Another of our premises is that, while perhaps not essential, a vigorous civilian nuclear power industry and export market dramatically increases a country’s ability to exercise meaningful influence on the international nuclear control regime. To what extent do you agree? 
  6. Some analysts have suggested that the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and the large amount of resources spent on it and on the nuclear navy will guarantee the U.S. a large and enduring influence over the international nuclear control regime. To what extent do you agree?

After the discussion of each proposition, each participant was directed to individually judge their degree of agreement or disagreement by marking—or indicating a range—on a linear scale in their workbooks.

On the second day of the workshop, we elicited and developed additional strategies that could enhance U.S. influence in international nuclear control regimes. After suggesting a number of strategies, experts focused on four that were discrete and sufficiently different from our original six to warrant further investigation. These were:

  1. a U.S. led non-profit consulting firm to provide support to newcomer countries
  2. a domestic solution for nuclear waste in the U.S.
  3. a renewed effort focused on global nuclear disarmament
  4. a U.S.-South Korea consortium to competitively bid for new reactor construction in newcomer countries.

Based on the results of the workshop we found that the experts who participated agreed that the U.S. would likely experience declining influence going forward, but disagreed on whether the decline had started and whether policies could or should be adopted to prevent it. A few of the proposed policies were evaluated to be low-risk, high-reward policies, and experts agreed that those warranted further study.

Following the workshop, the paper “Expert assessments of strategies to enhance global nuclear security” was published which included findings from the workshop.

Participants List