Hearings and Business Meetings
SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 10:00 AM
Mr. Daniel Poneman
Principal, The Scowcroft Group
Statement of Daniel B. Poneman
Principal, The Scowcroft Group
Before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
July 18, 2006
Mr. Chairman, it is an honor to appear before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to discuss the prospects for energy cooperation between the
I will focus my remarks on three aspects of this issue: the US-Indian energy relationship, the role of nuclear power in our energy future, and the need to ensure that our nuclear future minimizes the threat of the spread of nuclear weapons. Now that the Senate has acted on the US-Indian civil nuclear cooperation initiative, and the Executive Branch has taken up the issue for negotiations with the Government of India and consultations in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, I do not propose to address that subject. Instead, I will base my comments on the assumption of a US-Indian agreement for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and of all requisite safeguards and approvals having been obtained from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
I would like to offer three perspectives for the Committee’s consideration. First, US interests would be best served by a wide-ranging, robust relationship promoting energy cooperation in all aspects. There is broad and deep consensus in our country in favor of strengthening relations between
In the energy arena, the initiatives announced by President Bush and Prime Minister Singh this past March represent an important step in building the US-Indian energy relationship. These include
Second, nuclear power can play an indispensable role in meeting the growing need for large amounts of electricity without aggravating greenhouse gas emissions. I have been working on nuclear energy issues for over thirty years. The years since then have witnessed many trials and tribulations for nuclear power. In addition to the concern that nuclear energy programs might be misused to help develop nuclear weapons, the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents reduced public confidence in the safety of nuclear power. Further, the chronic unresolved question of how ultimately to dispose of nuclear wastes in this and many other nations has also dogged efforts to rebuild public confidence in nuclear power.
But attitudes toward nuclear power are changing. In part, the increased public support for nuclear power has reflected the intensive efforts of the nuclear industry to address the issues of public concern, including through the development of new and improved nuclear reactor designs of greater safety and efficiency. In addition, the citizens of the world are increasingly and properly concerned about the growing impact of global warming, rooted in the inexorable increase of global energy demand and the alarming growth of greenhouse gas emissions should the world rely excessively on fossil fuels to meet that demand.
But it is not enough to chronicle changes in public attitude. Given the rate of projected increases in energy consumption over the coming decades, according to the 2003 MIT Study on the Future of Nuclear Power, the world will need to exercise all of its options – increased efficiency in electricity generation and use, expanded use of renewable energy sources, capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fueled plants, and increased use of nuclear power – in order to make a significant impact on global warming. The MIT Study further concluded that, for nuclear power simply to maintain its current share of about 17 percent of total installed electricity generating capacity, it will need to grow from about 366 reactors today to 1000 or more reactors of 1000MWe capacity.
Third, the promise of nuclear power can only be fully realized if we take aggressive measures to combat the spread of nuclear weapons. It may be, as I have just suggested, that the world is on the verge of a major expansion in the fleet of nuclear reactors providing electricity in
Even as we envisage the possibility of a major expansion of nuclear power around the world, we are also confronting serious challenges in combating the spread of nuclear weapons, most notably in
It is therefore critical, as we seek to promote the expansion of nuclear power, that we pay equal attention to preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapon capabilities. That is why President Bush was correct, in my view, in proposing in February 2004 that we take steps to minimize the spread of enrichment and reprocessing facilities, and why his proposal earlier this year under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership to provide for a reliable fuel assurance also should be pursued with vigor.
And in this respect, it may well be that India, once it is engaged in civil nuclear cooperation with the United States, may be in a position to make a signal contribution to the reduction of nuclear proliferation risks. In the July 18, 2005, Joint Statement by President Bush and Prime Minister Singh, the Prime Minister committed to refrain “from transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to states that do not have them and [to] supporting international efforts to limit their spread.” There have been a number of suggestions and proposals regarding how the international community might effectively limit the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technologies. Proposals in this arena have come from people in and out of government, from leaders including President Bush and President Putin, as well as from the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei.
By voluntarily refraining from enriching uranium or reprocessing plutonium for its civilian program,
Nuclear fuel leasing would embed the emerging US-Indian cooperation in civil nuclear energy into the warp and woof of global nonproliferation efforts. Moreover, it would not erode the NPT bargain, since
Nuclear fuel leasing is no panacea. It would not purport to prevent all clandestine efforts to divert civilian nuclear programs to explosive purposes, or to block dedicated bomb builders who are pursuing purely military programs. It would, however, help reduce the risk that the global growth of atomic energy will lead to nuclear catastrophe. And for that
I would be happy to respond to any questions the Committee may have.