Letter: Bullying by nuclear 'enforcers' brings non-proliferation treaty into disrespect

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The Independent Online
Sir: Roger Hayes, of the British Nuclear Industry Forum (letter, 17 August), bemoans the 'lack of firm political support at home' for the British nuclear industry abroad. He cites Nuclear Electric's bid to build a nuclear power station in Taiwan as one example of Britain's prospects in the world nuclear market. The proposed reactor is based on the Sizewell B design, which has yet to generate its first electricity and may be further delayed by safety and technical problems. This will no doubt increase the cost of the plant, which is already 40 per cent over the original budget. It is misguided to consider the export of such an unproven technology, and foolish to be proud of it.

The second example of Thorp and its pounds 9bn-worth of orders is also misleading. The contracts for Thorp were agreed many years ago when plutonium was thought to be an asset rather than a liability. Customers have been locked into cost-plus contracts and have faced large cost increases.

It is an inappropriate time to extol the virtues of nuclear exports given the alarming news of plutonium smuggling in Europe. But even if the increasing concerns about nuclear proliferation are set aside, Mr Hayes should not be surprised at the erosion of confidence in the British nuclear industry, given its history of cost overruns, delays and promises unmatched by performance.

Yours faithfully,


Nuclear Campaign


London, N1

18 August