International safeguards for nuclear materials are flawed, says report

As nuclear energy enjoys a renaissance as a touted climate-change fix, a new report identifies significant flaws in the international safeguards meant to keep nuclear materials in reactors (as opposed to, say, the hands of illegal bomb makers). A two-year study by the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center concludes that the International Atomic Energy Agency is ill-funded for its important task of supervising a rapidly increasing volume of nuclear material that could potentially be used for weapons. In addition, says NPEC, the IAEA overestimates the necessary amount of nuclear material to make a weapon, and also overestimates its own safeguarding success. In fact, NPEC suggests that keeping a proper eye on nuclear plants is nigh unto impossible, pointing out that material stuck in piping — often many bombs’ worth — is difficult to keep track of and can go unaccounted for. On top of that, some countries (cough, cough, Iran) have a history of lying to inspectors. Sounds like the rest of the world could use some of President Bush’s safe, clean nuclear power right about now.