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A New Nuclear Era

The U.S. Role in the Shifting Global Energy Landscape

Task Force 2017

A New Nuclear Task Force 2017 report


Dr. John M. Deutch

Emeritus Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Deputy Secretary of Defense (1994-1995)

Faculty Adviser

Scott Montgomery

Scott Montgomery


Task Force

  • Zain Abid
  • Chloe Akahori
  • Julian Augustus
  • Tali Haller
  • Madeline Holloway
  • Stacey Hurwitz
  • Brandon Kavolok
  • Kayley Knopf
  • Hung Nguyen
  • Brian Park
  • Natalie Riel
  • John Salber
  • Selma Sadzak
  • Woojong Shin
  • Han Su

For 50 years, the U.S. has been the global leader in peaceful nuclear energy and non-proliferation diplomacy. Its sharing of technology and best practices have made nuclear power the largest non-carbon source of electricity worldwide. Yet U.S. leadership has been allowed to fade even as many nations are newly drawn to nuclear. America must regain its historical role to help ensure safety and success of the new nuclear era.


  • The world depends on energy for development, but nations should prioritize high reliability, clean sources of energy that do not contribute to pollution and climate change. The United States itself has an ageing nuclear fleet, which compromises its ability to lead the rest of the world towards sustainable growth and development.
  • Expansion of nuclear power to new nations comes with concerns. The U.S. role in negotiating transparency and non-proliferation has been essential, yet U.S. commitment to nuclear power has lapsed. Moreover, international organizations that advise and monitor nuclear programs remain underfunded, adding to concerns.
  • Nuclear energy has been stigmatized over the years as dangerous and high risk, especially after incidents like Fukushima and Three Mile Island. Public perception of nuclear energy is relatively negative, due to lack of knowledge on the topic. This needs to be changed, as public opinion often influences state policy, as in the case of the planned repository at Yucca Mountain.
  • One of the greatest arguments against nuclear energy is its high start up costs; it costs approximately $6 billion to $8 billion to get a nuclear plant to an operating state. The majority of nuclear power plants exceed their initial budgets, as licensing and construction often create delays in the timeline.


  • U.S. LEADERSHIP: The U.S. should continue its commitment to mitigating climate change and expand the nuclear energy program. The government must encourage nuclear energy by supporting nuclear programs in developing nations, which requires our industry to stay competitive.
  • SECURITY AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: An expansion of nuclear monitoring bodies are necessary to avoid nuclear proliferation and security threats. International cooperation is also necessary for further research and development to promote nuclear energy.
  • GOVERNMENT SUPPORT: The U.S. should increase federal support and commitment to nuclear energy across the board, from increasing funding for research institutes to launching nuclear education campaigns, in efforts to increase public confidence and resolve nuclear waste management.
  • ECONOMIC: The government must reform current regulations and licensing while pursuing innovative financial mechanisms to support the growth of the nuclear industry through tax breaks and subsidies to the private sector.
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