Lesley Kucharski, NPTS ’17

Prague Nuclear Research Reactor Practicum, 2017

The nuclear reactor practicum in the Czech Republic is one of the best opportunities that MIIS has to offer to students concentrating in nonproliferation studies. In Monterey, students learn to analyze weapons of mass destruction (WMD) through historical and theoretical lenses to the detriment of a scientific understanding of these weapons systems. Although MIIS requires nonproliferation students to take a class on science and technology of WMD, the concepts covered the only scratch the surface of the technical issues that lie at the core of WMD nonproliferation and disarmament policy. The nuclear reactor practicum allows students to gain a more comprehensive understanding of what can be a murky threshold separating peaceful and environmentally-friendly applications of nuclear energy and the production and use of nuclear materials for offensive purposes. In addition to the technical training, the practicum offered a unique cultural experience that aided my understanding of the political and economic factors affecting nuclear energy and weapons policy. In this paper, I attempt to give a brief explanation of what I learned on the trip regarding the operation of nuclear reactors, focusing on the areas that are of concern for nonproliferation and disarmament policy.

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