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Argument: Nuclear energy should not be banned on mere risk of weapons-use

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Patrick Moore, a prominent environmentalist and founding member of Greenpeace. "Going Nuclear A Green Makes the Case." Washington Post. April 16, 2006: "although I don't want to underestimate the very real dangers of nuclear technology in the hands of rogue states, we cannot simply ban every technology that is dangerous. That was the all-or-nothing mentality at the height of the Cold War, when anything nuclear seemed to spell doom for humanity and the environment. In 1979, Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon produced a frisson of fear with their starring roles in "The China Syndrome," a fictional evocation of nuclear disaster in which a reactor meltdown threatens a city's survival. Less than two weeks after the blockbuster film opened, a reactor core meltdown at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear power plant sent shivers of very real anguish throughout the country. [...] [Claim addressed:] Nuclear fuel can be diverted to make nuclear weapons. This is the most serious issue associated with nuclear energy and the most difficult to address, as the example of Iran shows. But just because nuclear technology can be put to evil purposes is not an argument to ban its use. Over the past 20 years, one of the simplest tools -- the machete -- has been used to kill more than a million people in Africa, far more than were killed in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings combined. What are car bombs made of? Diesel oil, fertilizer and cars. If we banned everything that can be used to kill people, we would never have harnessed fire."


John McCarthy. "Nuclear Energy is the Most Certain Source." Formal.standard: "Nuclear reactors produce plutonium, and plutonium is terrible because it can be used to make bombs. Perhaps I have caricatured this argument, but I haven't seen it in a coherent form. Safeguards are indeed needed. There is no policy including a ban on nuclear energy that can prevent a determined country from launching a nuclear war. So far deterrents have sufficed, and a total ban would give an enormous advantage to the first country to violate it."

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