My colleagues on the Editorial Board have prepared a very eloquent statement against Wisconsin’s moratorium on the building of nuclear power plants. On the surface, they appear to have made an open-and-shut case.
My objections to nuclear energy have nothing to do with its safety or effectiveness. I am sure nuclear power would be a safe, sufficiently green alternative to the burning of fossil fuels. Rather, I am chiefly concerned for the geopolitical consequences which would likely arise if the United States declared nuclear power the gold standard of the new green economy.
The principal foreign policy prerogative of the United States right now should be making sure the Iranian government does not develop a nuclear weapon. This is a difficult balancing act, since the Iranian government has an intellectual right to civil nuclear power, which even its pro-Western youth celebrate as a major academic accomplishment. I have insisted for a long time that Iran has a right to this power, and its rhetoric on nuclear weaponry is not apocalyptic enough to merit sanctions or intervention. Any state which wishes to develop a peaceful civil nuclear system has the right to do so.
But I’m one of the very few who sees it this way. I suspect there’s a short list of about 20 countries right now that no U.S. administration would feel comfortable watching build civil nuclear power plants. So, if the fight against global warming is moving towards consensus around a small number of green options, and if the U.S. wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing much of the world develop civil nuclear energy, what’s the point? I would much rather have sources of green energy which are least likely to set off any number of geopolitical crises around the world, whose installation in rogue states would pose no threat — either real or imagined. I would much rather the world goes green together, simultaneously.