Tritium on Ice: The Dangerous New Alliance of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power

By Hemphill, Jay | Air & Space Power Journal, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

Tritium on Ice: The Dangerous New Alliance of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power


Hemphill, Jay, Air & Space Power Journal


Tritium on Ice: The Dangerous New Alliance of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power by Kenneth D. Bergeron. MIT Press (http://wwwmitpress.mit.edu), Five Cambridge Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142-1493, 2002, 232 pages, $24.95 (hardcover).

Since the dawn of the nuclear age, the United States has been at the forefront of international efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons. At a time when concerns about nuclear proliferation are making headlines from Northeast Asia to the Middle East, Kenneth D. Bergeron's new book takes a hard look at a recent policy change within the Department of Energy that departs significantly from the long-standing US practice of handling nuclear materials. The book focuses on a decision made in 1998 by Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson to end the policy of bifurcating civilian and military nuclear operations. The decision merged the production of the hydrogen isotope tritium (a material used only by the military to turn atomic nuclear weapons into hydrogen weapons) with the activities of the historically civilian nuclear plants operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Bergeron explains how concerns about national security and safety of the facilities have long dictated that civilian and military nuclear operations be conducted separately, criticizing both the decisionmaking process and the ultimate decision to merge the operations. …

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