Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Essay on Nuclear Technology

Essay on Nuclear Technology

Nuclear technology deals with the reactions of atomic nuclei. Even though when hear “nuclear technology” most people think about nuclear weapons of mass destruction, probably the most familiar object that was created with help of nuclear science is smoke detector. Uranium is a naturally occurring radioactive metal, which has two major applications - nuclear bombs and nuclear electricity generation. Uranium is very radioactive and obviously causes cancer. Plutonium is an artificial element, it is the explosive in most nuclear weapons, created inside a reactor that uses uranium fuel.

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Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of uranium and, even thought the countries who buy Canadian uranium must promise not to use it for weapons, there are evidences that some of this metal still finds it way to weapons. The usage of uranium and plutonium is very difficult to control simply because once plutonium is created, it remains weapons usable for thousands of years – by then all the reactors can be already gone and the agreements forgotten.

Pakistan, Taiwan, Korea, Argentina, Romania, India and China all buy plutonium from Canada. By now, they have either acquired a nuclear weapons capability or have considered starting a program to do so.

The U.S. was the first country to use nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Their decision to drop nuclear bombs on Japan cannot be justified from the historical or human point of view. The war was obviously going to an end, and Japan would sooner or later surrender now that Germany was out of the war. The US was probably driven by the desire to show off their military might and to test new weapons rather than by a real necessity. The scope of the tragedy that befell the Japanese is terrifying and does not allow justifications for the deed.

In order to prevent the spread of nuclear technology world community established the non-proliferation treaty. South Korea is one of the countries that signed the treaty. Several years after this South Korea continued its nuclear program towards the development of nuclear bomb in spite of indignation, multiple warnings and sanctions from the members of the United Nations. Active summit talks convinced official Pyongyang to become a party of the Agreed Framework in exchange for the indulgence of economic sanctions from US. Major arrangements of the Agreed Framework implied freezing of Pyongyang’s nuclear program and monitoring of Korean nuclear objects by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, joining the efforts in the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula and normalization of international relations. The exacerbation in Korean region decreased there was a time period of effective cooperation. But new millennium brought new problems: in 2002 USA manifested a reasonable apprehension that Pyongyang endeavors to enrich uranium. The existence of such program in itself neglects all the before entered engagements and endangers the world community. The same year North Korea confirmed the existence of uranium enrichment program and this issue compelled the attention of many countries including US, Russia, Great Britain, China, Japan and South Korea. UNO officials initiated many talks (including three- and six-party talks) which gave no significant positive shifts in North Korean nuclear standoff. Later Pyongyang refused from new and broken off all current negotiations.

Nuclear energy is creates approximately 16% of electricity produces all over the world. The nuclear reactors work now on the principle of nuclear fission and many scientists are trying to create nuclear fusin reactors, which are supposed to provide more energy and have less disadvantages.

Nuclear energy has many advantages. First of all, our planet has limited supplies of coal and oil and one day they will become scarce, so we need to find alternative ways to produce electricity. One ton of uranium produces approximately as much energy as is produced by several million tons of coal or several million barrels of oil. Uranium plants do not pollute air, unlike coal and oil.

Nuclear technology is very dangerous and from peaceful science it can turn into weapons of mass distructions. What if terrorists get hold of nuclear technology? Or what if nuclear war starts? Or simply if nuclear weapon is launched by accident? One fatal mistake has already happened at the Soviet Union’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant. In 1986, radiation escaped from a nuclear reactor and many people in several countries were exposed to enormous amounts of radiation. Many died within several days, many others continue to die from cancer even decades after the explosion. Another problem with nuclear energy is that nuclear reactors last for forty or fifty years and have waste disposal problem.

Lately Gulf countries expressed their interest in development of peaceful nuclear technologies. While some may argue that it is part of geopolitical relations and matter of security, I also think that interest in nuclear technologies has economic considerations. Gulf countries try to diversify their sources of energy. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and some other Gulf countries have already experienced decline in their oil production.

I believe it is still too early to create nuclear energy plants – nuclear science is not developed enough for that and any mistake can be fatal and cost many lives. However, each country should definitely invest in safe an peaceful nuclear technologies in order to minimize risks and learn about further advantages. I am sure that nuclear energy has great future, however, now it is still to early to apply in practice what we know so far about nuclear atom.

The Gulf countries should definitely invest in development of peaceful nuclear technology, since nuclear energy is so far the best replacement for coal and oil burning. Even though now it is not yet time to implement the existing technologies, I am sure that nuclear energy is the energy of the future.
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