Nuclear Energy: From Megatonnes to Megawatts

-David Walters

Revolutionary Marxists need to start parsing out our approach to energy. Energy represents the most important aspect of the *physical* economy of any nation, regardless of the *political* economy of class relations.Marxists, of course, stands for the nationalization of all energy resources and, in capitalist countries, defend public power entities against imperialist inspired privatization schemes.

We seek to build united fronts in defense of public property with the workers in the threatened industries and with all those that seek to keep foreign, and domestic capital at bay.But we rarely discuss the needs to a developing nation to...develop beyond the obvious democratic and socialist demands of the working class. This brief essay will address one issue of concern, especially to developing India and it's energy needs that have impacts far beyond the imperialist drawn borders of the nation.

As India continues, in its baby-steps toward implementing a nuclear energy program which include developing it's vast store of thorium entrained in the thorium sands of Kerala, the worlds' 3rd largest reserve of this utilized nuclear fuel, it is interesting to look at one program implemented between the United States and Russia in 1993, put into effect in 1995 and continues to this day.

The Megatons to Megawatts Program is the name given to the program that implemented the 1993 United States-Russia non-proliferation agreement to convert high-enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium taken from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons into low-enriched-uranium (LEU) for nuclear fuel.In March 2008 the US.. announced that the Megatons to Megawatts program had reached a new milestone: 325 metric tons of Russian HEU material, equivalent to 13,000 nuclear warheads has been eliminated. 325 tonnes of Russian nuclear warhead material has been diluted and converted to low enriched fuel for nuclear power plants. This fuel is purchased by USEC for use in many of America's 103 commercial nuclear power plants to produce electricity. Approximately 20% of America's electricity is generated by nuclear energy.

Nuclear warheads that were once on guided missile ICBMs aimed at American cities are now providing 50% of the nuclear energy produced in the United States--one tenth of America's overall electric power production.I think this is a "good thing", not a "bad thing". It can provide a model not just for developing countries where nuclear war is a threat, such as between Pakistan and India, but for any future workers government's approach to the problems of nuclear proliferation. But let's parse this out as Marxists and how we should approach the issue.First, we reject imperialist imposed treaties like the recently signed "1-2-3 Agreement" that forces India to accede to Imperialist demands over what to do with it's nuclear technology. The same should apply to Pakistan.

We reject the whole imperialist schema of maintaining both a nuclear weapons monopoly and a nuclear energy technology monopoly. Secondly, and this is VERY important, we think that first it is the nuclear weapons inventory of the imperialist powers and their lackeys that ought to have their nuclear weapons phased out via the Megatons-to-Megawatts program starting with the United States and it's 13,000 or more nuclear weapons of mass destruction as well as France, Britain and Israel. This demand for unilateral nuclear disarmament via this program accomplishes two things.1. It will disarm imperialism's WMD, thus lowering the world wide threat of nuclear war and2. It will provide at least 20 years or more fuel for the worlds current fleet of 436 reactors, including those in India and Pakistan.

Additionally it will provide the basis for a 3 way Chinese-Indian-Pakistani negotiations to phase out 'their' nuclear weapons programs which eat up a huge amount of their budgets. This money can then be reoriented toward developing the productive forces of nuclear energy in a multi-national, sovereign, energy program.

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