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The Security Implications of China's Nuclear Energy Expansion

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Nuclear energy is an integral part of China's energy strategy and will increasingly contribute to China's total energy supply. China has more than twenty civilian facilities, including power reactors, mines, and enrichment plants, to support its nuclear power program. As China operates more nuclear plants, more nuclear materials will be produced and stockpiled, and more nuclear facilities will be spread around the country. To ensure that this expanded network of nuclear facilities does not increase the risk that nuclear materials will be diverted or become the target of attack, China will need to develop more reliable domestic nuclear security strategies. China is also poised to become a major exporter of nuclear energy technology. China has committed to keeping nuclear technologies out of the hands of dangerous states and/or sub-state organizations, but in order to fulfill its nonproliferation obligations as well as its treaty-based commitment to share nuclear technologies, China will need to strengthen nuclear export controls and practices. This report examines and evaluates security measures at Chinese civilian nuclear power plants and suggests ways to improve them. It also reviews current export control policies and systems, identifies likely challenges to the expanding nuclear sector, and proposes possible solutions.

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