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Nuclear Power Is ‘On Its Back,’ Former CIA Director Says via Forbes

The demise of its nuclear-power industry weakens the United States’ ability to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, a former CIA director said in Chicago Tuesday.

An MIT chemist who joined the Department of Energy as its director of research in 1977, John Deutch headed the CIA from 1995-96. Last night he offered a grim assessment of nuclear power’s prospects in America.

“What about the nuclear industry today? Let me tell you, it is on its back. It is just in very bad shape,” Deutch said in a lecture hosted by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

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Deutch’s talk was part of a months-long commemoration by the University of Chicago of the first man-made sustained nuclear reaction, which took place in a squash court under the university’s stadium on Dec. 2, 1942. For decades, U.S. labs defined the forefront of nuclear technology, and through licensing rights, the U.S. maintained some control over its light-water reactor technology even as reactors spread around the world.

When Deutch joined DOE, the government was licensing 6 or 7 reactors per year, he said, and there were four competitive U.S. manufacturers. Today, there are no U.S. manufacturers. Reactors are being built by China, Russia, India and South Korea and built in such places as the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Vietnam and Turkey.

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