These are tough times for nuclear power in the U.S. Power plants under construction are facing serious delays, halts and cost overruns. Utilities in South Carolina abandoned a project to complete construction of two power plants in August, while the cost of the only nuclear plant now under construction has ballooned to US$25 billion.
And it's no secret that several existing nuclear power plants are at risk of shutting down. In fact, that specter is one of the key motivations behind Energy Secretary Rick Perry's recent request to the Department of Energy for an analysis of the challenges facing conventional power plants.
While the environmental and reliability impacts of the closures are well-understood, what many don't realize is that these closures also pose long-term risks to our national security. As the nuclear power industry declines, it discourages the development of our most important anti-proliferation asset: a bunch of smart nuclear scientists and engineers.