University of Washington

Asia's Emerging Nuclear Era: Climate Strategies & Implications for U.S. Policy

Task Force Report
Expert Evaluation Presentation
Task Force Poster

Lowering carbon emissions has proved far more politically challenging than anticipated, even as scientific evidence for serious climate impacts has grown. Renewable energy, despite favorable press, is unlikely to provide electricity on a major scale for decades. As a result, nuclear power emerges as a primary option for addressing climate change. Contested in the West, this energy source is expanding rapidly in the rest of the world. At least 30 nations now have plans to begin nuclear power programs soon, a number likely to grow. Meanwhile, new types of reactor designs with greatly reduced proliferation risk are being explored. Leaders of major nations therefore face a profound dilemma: are the risks associated with climate change worth trading for those—physical, technological, and political—related to a global expansion in nuclear power, and, if so, what measures must be taken to contain, indeed eliminate, any further opportunities for weapons proliferation? This Task Force will take up the question by examining its principle elements (e.g. current understanding of climate risks; carbon savings from nuclear; the status of global nuclear power; current negotiations to amend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; policies regarding nuclear arsenals and their continued reduction; challenges related to Iran, North Korea, and the U.S.-India nuclear deal) in order to forge a set of recommendations that would give the U.S. an active leadership role in resolving this issue for the long-term.

Task Force Instructor

Scott L. Montgomery

Scott L. Montgomery ( is a geologist, independent scholar and adjunct faculty member in the Jackson School of International Studies and Honors Program, University of Washington. He has written widely on topics in scientific communication, the history of science, science and art, contemporary culture and translation. His books include: The Chicago Guide to Communicating Science (University of Chicago, 2003); Science in Translation: Movements of Knowledge Through Cultures and Time (University of Chicago, 2000) and The Scientific Voice (Guilford, 1996), among others. Two new works, both forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press are Powers Rich and Afflicted: Energy in the 21st Century—Resources, Issues, Geopolitics and also The Eye of Nature: Studies on Science and Art. He holds a BA in English from Knox College and an MS in geological sciences from Cornell University.

Expert Evaluator



Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr.

Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr. is President of the Lawyers Alliance for World Security (LAWS). He served as Special Representative of the President for Arms Control, Non-Proliferation, and Disarmament from 1994-1997. He led U.S. Government efforts to achieve a permanent Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT) leading up to and during the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the NPT. Graham headed the U.S. Delegation to the 1996 Review Conference of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and the U.S. Delegation to the 1993 ABM Treaty Review Conference. In addition, he led a number of delegations to foreign capitals in the period 1994-1996, first to persuade countries to support indefinite extension of the NPT and in 1996 to urge conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland (the CTBT was signed in September 1996). In November 1995 and June 1996, Ambassador Graham led a U.S. Delegation to Indonesia to discuss with ASEAN nations the emerging Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty.



Christan Leonard

Majors: International Studies and Economics
Every year temperatures rise and the nonproliferation regime crumbles just a little bit more. Climate change and nuclear proliferation are two of the biggest challenges of the 21st century and I’m excited for the chance to learn about these two complex and intertwined issues. As an environmentalist and a student of international development, I hope to find a way that clean energy sources, such as nuclear, can be safely harnessed to provide the benefits of industrialization to the developing world without the hazardous side effects of global warming.

Darren Levin

Major: International Studies, JSIS Honors
The fluctuation of oil prices, energy resources, and climate change are among the defining challenges that face the world today. Clean alternatives to oil as a source of energy are significant today as countries attempt to find ways to minimize their carbon footprint, reduce dependency on oil for both environmental and national security reasons, and make an effort to combat climate change. I am interested in tackling climate change with alternative energy sources and technology such as wind, solar, and nuclear options, and I am particularly interested in the role that institutions, both in the public and private sector, play in developing nuclear energy as a major energy resource


Nikki Thompson

Majors: International Studies, South Asian Languages and Literature
I am researching the security of civilian nuclear reactors. I am particularly interested in the international regulations and safeguards that shape security systems in Asia and around the world. I am excited to integrate scientific knowledge on the subject of nuclear safety and security with my understanding of current global political circumstances to inform good policy decisions.

Task Force Members

Chantal Anderson

Majors: International Studies and Journalism
I am taking an in depth look at how U.S. nuclear policy decisions and agreements with certain countries (more specifically, India) affect the goals of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. When I am not trying to understand how nuclear fuel is reprocessed into weapons material, I enjoy cooking, dancing and photography.

Kristina Backstrom

Major: International Studies, Spanish Honors
I am interested in Asia's expansion of nuclear energy because it ties together a diverse array of social and hard science topics, including energy security and nuclear non-proliferation, as well as climate change and the basic physics of nuclear energy. The collaboration between these fields to achieve the ultimate goal of peaceful progress is representative of what I consider the pinnacle of academia--that the best of each field should contribute their expertise to the world's most complicated issues, empowering us to make well-informed policy decisions.

Heather Early

Majors: International Studies and Political Science
I am interested in climate change and the option of nuclear energy in South Asia because as climate change begins to have more evident effects on lives around the world, we need to have a solution in place. Nuclear energy is a viable option to minimize carbon output and thus climate change but there are many factors to consider. I am very interested in delving into the many issues surrounding this multifaceted topic.

Sylvia Gozdek

Major: International Studies  Track: Global Health
Major: Medical Anthropology Honors
Nuclear energy systems are a fascinating subject to study in today's political atmosphere because of their pertinence to all forms of security. These controversial forms of energy production force society to ask difficult questions and reevaluate the nature of dialogues of negotiation while becoming more aware of how interconnected the world is. Their ability to combine promise and caution appeal to my anthropological-meta philosophical thought ways and I enjoy pondering the shifts that could take place as a result of the greater transparency needed in the diffusion of nuclear energy systems.

Alyssa Hunt

Majors: International Studies and Communication
Minor: Japanese
I am interested in climate change and the growth of nuclear energy in Asia because of the global importance – climate change isn’t just something Al Gore raves about, it is a real and pertinent problem. Asia is going to be the hot-spot of population and economic growth, and I’m interested to see how the U.S. will respond in the coming decades. As an American having lived in Asia for a significant portion of my life, I feel a connection to both worlds, and hope that they can put aside their differences and work together to combat climate change.

Emilia Jones

Major: International Studies
I am interested in how climate change science is impacting global energy policy and particularly, how it has affected the debate surrounding nuclear energy. My research focuses on comparing the global warming impacts of major energy sources and analyzing the future role of nuclear and renewable energy in mitigating climate change.

Andrew Kim

Majors: International Studies and Economics
I am researching nuclear energy as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels in light of impeding climate change. Climate change is an international issue that will require large scale cooperation resulting in drastic changes in the way countries create energy to fuel their economies. Asia has begun to adopt nuclear energy because nuclear energy provides energy security and large scale energy production at relatively low costs. However, increased nuclear energy has implications for additional nuclear terrorism threats, safety concerns, and issues surrounding disposal of nuclear waste which merit considerable discussion and debate.

Kimberly Kuo

Majors: International Studies and Anthropology
I am interested in nuclear energy as a viable energy source, especially in light of the effects of climate change on health, the environment, and the changes it has made to different species. I find interesting that nuclear energy is feared by much of the American public, while other countries have used it efficiently and with more positive public perception. Because I also enjoy the outdoors a great deal, I feel there must be open discussion to more alternative energy sources that can mitigate green house gases and leave less of a carbon footprint. It will be interesting to see research and evidence put into building this argument.

Sandy (Yi-hsuan) Lee

Major: International Studies and Economics
I am interested in how the expansion of nuclear in Asia can put the region into a more strategic position in relation to the rest of the world. More specifically, other than Asia's rapid economic performance, how can the economics of nuclear energy establish a different kind of political atmosphere regionally and globally? On a personal level, my Asian background motivated me to learn more about the US-China relations.

Ann Pederson

Major: International Studies
I have been very excited to work on this task force; I am interested in the issues of non-proliferation, arms control, and nuclear technology. Particularly, I have been researching the new nuclear technologies that are on the horizon and that will effect the nuclear development in Asia the most. It is an exciting industry that is seeing a lot of new development.

Mbasireh Saidybah
Major: International Studies Track: Development
Minor: Global Health
I am researching on the status and future of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, specifically looking at the successes, problems and challenges faced by the NPT, the relationship between the nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states, the problems of the hold-outstates--Pakistan, India, Israel, Iran and North Korea--and the implications of these issues for the future of the NPT. I am interested in the role of signatory states, what the leadership of the United States can do to confront these problems and challenges for a nuclear proliferation free world. I am excited about the challenges this topic confronts me with, given that I have no prior experience with climate change or nuclear technology.

Alexandra Sawyer

Majors: International Studies and Environmental Studies
Minors: Latin American Studies and Human Rights
I am studying the feasibility of nuclear power through the lens or resource availability. In particular, my research looks at the global distribution and accessibility of uranium ore, and the ways in which uranium resource availability plays into energy security and geopolitics, both at present and in the future. I am especially interested in how nuclear power may play into the global energy mix as a potential mitigator of climate change, and how its emergence may affect longstanding power structures.

Brandon Skyles

Major: International Studies, JSIS Honors
I am interested in clean energy and sustainability. As it pertains to nuclear energy, I believe the possibilities are limitless but that much progress needs to be made in the way of policy and practical barriers to embracing it. My honors thesis will draw on this focus and be geared toward infrastructure for clean, efficient transportation systems in an urbanizing world.

Michelle Tong

Major: International Studies
Minor: Japan Studies
I am researching the environmental effects of nuclear energy and possible proposals for final disposal of nuclear waste. More broadly, I am interested in nuclear energy because the technology’s multifaceted nature brings together many issues in regional and global politics. From energy demand to environmental consciousness to national security, nuclear energy as policy must address a wide array of often conflicting priorities. I am interested in exploring how different nations, especially Japan and the United States, will balance these concerns even as climate change and growing industrialization in East Asia continue to change the nuclear energy context.

Center for Global Studies
International Studies Program
University of Washington
Box 353650
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 685-2707
(206) 685-0668 fax

Sara R. Curran
Program Chair
(206) 543-6479

Sabine Lang
Associate Program Chair

Lauren Dobrovolny
Program Coordinator
(206) 685-2707