Professor M.V. Ramana: “Nuclear Energy and the Bomb”

Professor Ramana gave his talk at St. Thomas University in Fredericton on October 12, 2023. The event hosts were the CEDAR project and the Environment and Society Program at St. Thomas University and co-hosts the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Canada (IPPNWC), the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick (CRED-NB) and the NB Media Co-op. The evening ended with a reception and many conversations. Scroll down to view the slides and a video recording of Dr. Ramana’s talk.

Dr. M.V. Ramana

When thinking about energy transitions, the issue of nuclear weapons rarely comes to mind. Yet the connections between generating nuclear energy and the ability to make nuclear weapons have been evident since Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed. One connection is separating plutonium from used nuclear fuel, the technology proposed for Point Lepreau in New Brunswick. Other connections include the overlap in technical expertise and institutions.

The general linkage between the two pursuits was expressed in 1946 by Robert Oppenheimer, the central character of this summer’s Hollywood hit film: “We would build enormous plants, and we would design these plants in such a way that they could be converted with the maximum ease and the minimum time delay to the production of atomic weapons.”

However soon countries with nuclear technology began a campaign to convince the public to think differently about nuclear energy. The United States led the way with President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1953 ‘Atoms for Peace’ speech, and Admiral Lewis Strauss’s infamous prediction from 1954 that nuclear energy will be “too cheap to meter.” The Soviet counterpart was: “May the atom be a worker, not a soldier.”

M.V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and Professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India (Penguin Books, 2012) and a forthcoming book explaining why nuclear power is not a solution to climate change to be published by Verso Books. Ramana is a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials, the Canadian Pugwash Group, the International Nuclear Risk Assessment Group, and the team that produces the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Leo Szilard Award from the American Physical Society.

Dr. Ramana shared his presentation slides, HERE.

The video was published by the NB Media Co-op:

Selected publications by M.V. Ramana:

Several of M.V. Ramana’s publications relevant to this talk are below. For a comprehensive list, visit his website at the University of British Columbia.

Mycle Schneider and M. V. Ramana, “Nuclear Energy and the Non-Proliferation Treaty: A Retrospective Examination,” Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament (2023).

Stephen Thomas and M. V. Ramana“A hopeless pursuit? National efforts to promote small modular nuclear reactors and revive nuclear power,” WIREs Energy and Environment (2022).

M. V. RamanaSubmissions to Standing Committee on Science and Research (SRSR), House of Commons, Study on Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (June 2022).

M. V. Ramana, “Small Modular and Advanced Nuclear Reactors: A Reality Check,” IEEE Access (2021).

M. V. RamanaEyes Wide Shut: Problems with the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems Proposal to Construct NuScale Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, September 2020.

M. V. Ramana and Zia Mian, “The Courage to Challenge the Nuclear World Order,” Economic and Political Weekly, 52(48), (2 December 2017).

M. V. Ramana,Second Life or Half-Life? The Contested Future of Nuclear Power and Its Potential Role in a Sustainable Energy Transition,” in Thijs Van de Graaf, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Arunabha Ghosh, Florian Kern, and Michael T. Klare, eds., The Palgrave Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy (2016).

These events were supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)