This paper is based on a presentation by Gordon Thompson to the Joint Committee on Public Enterprise and Transport, in Dublin, Ireland on April 15, 1999. The presentation challenges Ireland to respond to two, linked perils — the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the potential instability of the Russian state.
The paper has six major parts. First, the risks associated with nuclear fuel reprocessing are summarized and the long-standing concerns about reprocessing at the UK’s Sellafield site are mentioned. Second, the presentation reviews Ireland’s opportunities to limit reprocessing. Third, the dangers associated with Russia’s present political and economic transition are described. Fourth, a new opportunity is described, whereby Ireland would promote and facilitate a Grand Bargain in nuclear affairs. This Grand Bargain would stop reprocessing and initiate a massive program of nuclear cleanup, which would help to stabilize the Russian state. Fifth, the presentation describes the potential benefits to Ireland from promoting the Grand Bargain. Sixth, specific actions by Ireland are recommended.