This project is a cooperation between the Darmstadt University of Technology and PRIF.
The project is directed by:
Prof. Dr Klaus Dieter Wolf, PRIF and Institute of Political Science of Darmstadt University of Technology
Research associates are:
Giorgio Franceschini, PRIF and Institute of Political Science of Darmstadt University of Technology
The interdisciplinary research project analyses risks and governance options for emerging nuclear technologies, with a particular focus on nuclear fusion: commercial fusion reactors namely are expected to provide a substantial contribution to the global energy supply in the second half of the twenty-first century. Still, these reactors may pose a substantial proliferation risk, as they open up the principal possibility to “breed” considerable amounts of fissile material, which could be used in nuclear weapons.
Computer simulations based on neutron physics shall provide a first quantitative estimation of this proliferation potential. In a second step we shall assess different governance options to control the proliferation potential of future fusion reactors. This represents a twofold challenge as the existing non-proliferation regime covers only nuclear technologies based on fission and ignores largely the dual-use potential of the emerging world of nuclear fusion. Furthermore, there is widespread agreement among scholars that the existing regime suffers from a lack of both effectiveness and legitimacy.
We therefore explore new modes of governance, which clearly go beyond traditional approaches of regulating nuclear issues. Whereas classical nuclear regimes such as the non-proliferation regime still conceive nation-states as the central actors of an international nuclear order, we shall try to conceptualize regulations for future nuclear technologies (such as nuclear fusion), which transcend the state-centric focus of regime theory and include non-state actors as relevant contributors to the nuclear governance. The nuclear order unfolding from such an expansion might be more sustainable than the current regime, as new modes of governance open up the possibility to critically improve effectiveness and legitimacy of global non-proliferation.
We shall therefore try to identify the technical and political parameters needed to integrate future fusion reactors into the existing regimes surrounding nuclear technologies and derive some principles of a new nuclear order: this analysis might give some indication on principles of (technical) design and (political) control of new nuclear technologies for an effective and just nuclear order of the twenty-first century.