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The role of the European Union in strengthening nuclear security

Non-proliferation Paper No. 32

Non-proliferation Paper No. 32

Publisher: SIPRI
November, 2013

The European Union (EU) will continue to rely on nuclear energy as one element in a balanced energy strategy, and a large number of nuclear reactors will continue to operate for at least the next several decades. The EU (including its member states and common institutions) has a full spectrum of expertise on the civilian nuclear fuel cycle. There is unique experience in areas of great relevance to nuclear security, such as operating gas centrifuge enrichment plants, spent fuel reprocessing plants, the production of mixed oxide fuel and construction of final repositories for spent fuel. The EU has made a commitment to implement the highest international standards in the field of nuclear security. While the member states of the EU are ultimately responsible for ensuring nuclear security, a growing number of relevant issues fall within areas where common EU rules and institutions also have a role to play. The significant expertise (including some unique technical expertise), budgets and financial instruments, and frameworks for internal and external action that exist at the EU level should be used to strengthen nuclear security. Taking advantage of the capacities that already exist in different EU institutions in this field would be to the mutual benefit of the EU, its member states and the wider international community.


Dr Ian Anthony is the Director of the European Security Programme.