Recommendation: The achievement of ignition with laser-indirect drive at the National Ignition Facility should not preclude experiments to test the feasibility of laser-direct drive. Direct-drive experiments should also be carried out because of their potential for achieving higher gain and/or other technological advantages. (Recommendation 4-7)

Recommendation: Planning should begin for making effective use of the National Ignition Facility as one of the major program elements in an assessment of the feasibility of inertial fusion energy. (Recommendation from the Interim Report and Recommendation 4-10 from this report)

Proliferation Risks

The NRC Panel on the Assessment of Inertial Confinement Fusion Targets has examined the proliferation risks associated with IFE systems. Its analysis and principal conclusions regarding proliferation risks are presented in Chapter 3 of its report, Assessment of Inertial Confinement Fusion Targets. The NRC Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems concurs with the Panel’s conclusions, which are reiterated below for completeness.

Conclusion: At present, there are more proliferation concerns associated with indirect-drive targets than with direct-drive targets. However, worldwide technology developments may eventually render these concerns moot.10 Remaining concerns are likely to focus on the use of classified codes for target design. (Conclusion 3-1 from the panel report)

Conclusion: The nuclear weapons proliferation risks associated with fusion power plants are real, but are likely to be controllable.11 These risks fall into three categories: knowledge transfer; Special Nuclear Material (SNM) production; and tritium diversion. (Conclusion 3-2 from the panel report)

Conclusion: Research facilities are likely to be a greater proliferation concern than power plants. A working power plant is less flexible than a research facility, and it is likely to be more difficult to explore a range of physics problems with a power plant. However, domestic research facilities (which may have a


10 Progress in experiment and computation may eventually result in data, simulations, and knowl edge that the U.S. presently considers classified becoming widely available. Classification concerns about different kinds of targets may then change considerably.

11 Proliferation of knowledge and production of Special Nuclear Material are subject to control by international inspection of research facilities and plants; tritium diversion is a problem that will require careful attention.

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