has benefits, because it provides an opportunity to consider “safeguardability” directly in the initial design of a fusion power plant.
Early international discussions on this topic could be very helpful in reaching an international consensus on the key proliferation concerns associated with the use of inertial fusion power plants as well as how to manage these concerns (Goldston and Glaser, 2011).
CONCLUSION 3-4: It will be important to consider international engagement regarding the potential for proliferation associated with IFE power plants.
Proliferation is most tied to access to SNM, e.g., using enrichment processes. Richard Meserve6 recently wrote, “There is no proliferation risk from the [fission] reactors. Proliferation risks can arise from enrichment facilities because the technology could be used for weapons purposes” (Meserve, 2011). An advantage of fusion plants with respect to nonproliferation is that SNM will not be used in the plants and SNM will not be accessible from the waste products, as it is from fission plants. This lack of direct access to SNM is the major nonproliferation advantage of a fusion plant.
The disadvantage of inertial fusion power plants is that they allow access to knowledge and experience with fusion, which will necessarily increase with the design and operation of such plants. The latest nuclear weapons use fusion as a major source of the explosion energy. These concerns were outlined in one presentation by an official (Massard, 2010):
As an EU [European Union] requirement, we keep a clear separation between IFE and “sensitive” weapons science (nonproliferation)
• No use of weapons codes in the European programs
• No benchmarking of physics code with weapons code
• Not in favor of indirect drive capsule option in the European program for sensitivity issues
European countries have strong collaborations in ICF (e.g., HiPER). The French are building a laser fusion facility, LMJ, which is broadly similar to the NIF and which will be the most capable driver available in Europe. As a matter of policy, these programs will pursue indirect-drive ICF but do not intend to pursue indirect drive for IFE (Massard, 2010) because of the perceived proliferation risk. The
6 Former Chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and chair of the IAEA safety advisory group.