On March 11, when the first foreshock struck, my colleague Jeffrey Lewis and I were having lunch with senior industry officials at Japan’s controversial Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant. That facility both enriches uranium and reprocesses spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium, two processes that can also be used to make nuclear weapons. We were in the country to tour its nuclear facilities — an arrangement designed to show how far Japan was prepared to go to convince the international community that its facilities were only for peaceful purposes.
Few countries in the world — and no other non-nuclear-weapon state — are as invested in nuclear power as Japan. It is already the world’s third largest nuclear energy producer (after the United States and France) with ambitious plans for providing half of its electricity from nuclear power. Japan is also a major nuclear power plant exporter, with Toshiba and Hitachi having some time ago wrested control of the nuclear divisions of Westinghouse and General Electric.
Continue reading at “Japan’s nuclear crisis: The fine line between security and insecurity”.