Armenia’s positive lessons learned on nuclear power

February 6, 2024, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Areg Danagoulian, associate professor of nuclear science and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, draws on his experiences growing up in Soviet-era Armenia to argue that nuclear energy is crucial to “help strengthen liberal democracies that are being unprecedently threatened” by what he calls authoritarian regimes, such as Russia and China.

Disasters both natural and man-made: In his essay “How Nuclear Power Saved Armenia,” published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Danagoulian recalls the shutdown of Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear reactors in 1989 in the wake of fears generated by the 1986 Chernobyl accident, which “dramatically undermin[ed] public trust in nuclear power as a safe source of energy.” He asserted that “the public perception of danger from nuclear power was magnified by the outrageous lies that the Soviet leadership spread about the disaster, the obvious incompetence and irresponsibility of the Soviet nuclear designers who built and operated the Chernobyl reactor, and the poorly executed cleanup efforts, which were compounded by miscalculations and gross mistakes.”

The U.S. NRC’s global efforts benefit everyone

March 14, 2023, 7:03AMNuclear NewsChristopher Hanson

Christopher Hanson

The origins of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s robust international program date back to 1953, when President Eisenhower, in an address to the United Nations, promised to share U.S. nuclear expertise with the world. This commitment underpins our international programs today.

The NRC’s early focus was cooperating with countries operating U.S. reactor technology to leverage collective operating experience. But requests for assistance grew steadily, and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident made clear that international assistance was vital for global safety. We helped promote development of independent regulators in the former Soviet Union, and in a 1994 report, the independent NRC Office of the Inspector General praised how the NRC assisted Ukraine in establishing laws, regulations, and enforcement capacity.

The male business of nuclear diplomacy

November 30, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear CafeMaria Rentetzi

Maria Rentetzi

An unusual event during the recent General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency distracted the delegations of member states and the press from the Russian war in Ukraine and the fear of the next nuclear disaster. It was a small exhibition, Building the IAEA Headquarters and its Laboratories, at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, which brought to life the history of the agency’s laboratories through photographs, original letters and documents, explanatory texts, and timetables.

I was invited to participate in a related panel discussion that shed light on the early days of the “world’s first full-fledged laboratory of a truly international character” (in the words of an article about Seibersdorf Laboratory that ran in the January 1962 edition of the IAEA Bulletin) and its role in science diplomacy. There, I spoke of something that had struck me: Women were totally missing from the agency during this early period—making nuclear diplomacy an exclusively male business. To a large extent (as, for example, the recent IAEA missions to Ukraine show) nuclear continues to be a gendered endeavor.

The man held responsible for the Chernobyl accident has died

November 2, 2021, 3:41PMANS Nuclear Cafe


Viktor Bryukhanov, the man blamed for the Chernobyl disaster, has died at age 85.

Bryukhanov was in charge of the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine when the devastating accident occurred in 1986. Afterward, he was held responsible and was imprisoned.

Bryukhanov's death, on October 13 in Kiev, Ukraine, was announced by a representative of the now-closed nuclear plant, according to a report in the New York Times. He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease, in addition to having had several strokes following his retirement in 2015.

The sentencing: In 1987, Bryukhanov was found guilty of gross violation of safety regulations, creating conditions that led to the steam explosion that released a radioactive dust cloud into the atmosphere. Reports also mentioned that he failed to ensure correct and firm leadership in the difficult conditions of the accident and displayed irresponsibility and inability to organize. He was sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp along with a five-year sentence for abuse of power, which ran concurrently.

YouTube video: Facts are on nuclear’s side

April 28, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Author Joshua Goldstein, from the video "The Nuclear Option"

Climate activists rarely mention nuclear power as a tool in the battle against climate change, consumer reporter John Stossel comments during the video "The Nuclear Option" on his YouTube channel.