Trump Flunks Nuclear Affairs

Trump Flunks Nuclear Affairs

I thought that it would be easy to write a surfacy article about Trump and Nuclear Matters.  But just starting with the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage site is already a full article.  But I will make it overly short.  The Trump administration has asked for $120 million for two budgets each to restart work on the site, without success.  Meanwhile, the Trump administration was secretly shipping Plutonium to a nearby site.  This is a big political issue with Democratic candidates and both California Senators opposing the Yucca Mountain site.  Nevada has an early Feb. 22, 2020 Democratic caucus.  There are fears of nuclear waste transport, but it has to be safer than storing it on many reactor sites.  As a Las Vegas casino and tower owner, Trump has angered Nevadans, and sort of indicated that he does not favor the Yucca Mountain site.

In terms of having clean background energy nuclear reactors, I know of no backing of research on present or new types of reactors by Trump.  These would include reactors with high energy neutrons to break up long-lived reactor radioactive isotopes to make short lived ones that won’t require long term storage.  There are also ones that don’t produce weaponizable Plutonium.  There are also much smaller reactors.  Trump is also trying to reduce the Department of Energy budget, which oversees reactors.

The main incentive for nuclear would be a carbon tax which would reward the clean energy source.  Trump won’t back it since he refuses science and climate change.

Trump has allowed North Korea to manufacture nuclear weapons and more hidden sites, thinking that he is negotiating with them.  This ploy has been used by past North Korean leaders.

Trump threw out the Iran nuclear non-proliferation treaty.  Now he has applied tariffs not only on Iran, but on all others who were trading with Iran and buying Iranian oil.  There is now a pre-war escalation with Iran.

Trump has dropped the intermediate range nuclear missile prohibition with Russia.  It looks ok, since Russia was already violating the treaty by developing such weapons, but with the US withdrawal, it makes it look like  the US was the bad actor.  Trump had said during the campaign that he wanted to build such missiles, anyway.  Trump is also modernizing the nuclear arsenal, which flies in the face of further nuclear arms reduction.  Trump had also said during the election that he wanted to restore our arsenal to the vast excess of ten times larger during the height of the Cold War.  There have been no new de-escalation proposals.

Trump does not have a nuclear scientist leading the Department of Energy.  We do not know of one on his White House science council, which is led by a meteorologist.  We do not know of one in his White House team, or of one in State, DOE, or DOD who he consults.  Trump has dropped the Jason team that used to be under DARPA, and gave advice on nuclear disarmament policies.

In short, an F.

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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