Thinking the Unthinkable: Japanese nuclear power and proliferation in East Asia

Dr. Frank Barnaby and Shaun Burnie, August 2005 Report Cover

On the 60th Anniversary of the dropping of a plutonium bomb on the city of Nagasaki, Oxford Research Group, in collaboration with the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center in Tokyo, published this briefing paper, jointly authored by Frank Barnaby and Shaun Burine. It points to the difficulties and dangers associated with Japan's development of a new nuclear reprocessing plant at Rokkasho in the Aomori prefecture.

First of these is that IAEA inspections cannot accurately determine the quantities of plutonium entering the plant, and so there is no way of monitoring potential losses (and so safeguarding against these materials getting into the hands of terrorists).

Secondly, the operation of the plant will add to Japan's enormous stockpile of weapons-usable plutonium, much of which has no conceivable civil use.

With destabilising developments in the sub-continent, including the potential nuclearisation of the Korean sub-continent, the authors raise the dire spectre of Japan developing its own nuclear weapons, in the face of massive and longstanding public opposition. The authors further argue that the only sure way to stop nuclear proliferation in the region is for the existing nuclear powers to take seriously their own disarmament commitments, and to stop ‘accommodating’ the nuclear weapons programme of India and Pakistan.


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