I have to admit I’m quite surprised that my “long weekend“ post generated quite as much heated comment as it did. But that, I guess, is the pleasure of blogging on the Wonk.
Anyway, now for something completely different: highly enriched uranium (HEU) elimination. At a meeting in London a few weeks ago, a UK official said something I’d never heard before about HEU-fuelled submarine reactors. Discussing the issues surrounding the total elimination of HEU, the official said that he had received clearance to say that HEU-fuelled submarines have two advantages. First, they don’t need refuelling (which is widely known). Second, because the reactors are physically smaller they are quieter. I’d never heard this before but it certainly sounds plausible (although I’m not a reactor physicist).
This helps explain, I think, why the UK and US are as sensitive as they are about the issue eliminating HEU-fuelled naval reactors. Regardless of whether you think quietness is a good excuse for keeping them, the UK government deserves credit for explaining this and helping to inform the debate that little bit more.