Rethinking Nuclear Energy and Democracy after September 11 2001

In April 2002, the affiliates of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) in
Germany, France, and Switzerland organized a symposium in the city of Basel, Switzerland, entitled
“Rethinking Nuclear Energy and Democracy after 9/11.”

The symposium was motivated by a common concern as to the risks of civilian use of nuclear energy after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. The symposium considered several aspects of nuclear energy use, including the health and environmental consequences of accidents, the new threats of terrorist attacks against reactors, the costs of nuclear energy, the roles of democratic and civil society institutions, and the fact that nuclear plants nowadays – mostly due to public opposition can hardly be sited anywhere in the Western world. Indeed, with very few exceptions the only chances for new nuclear plants are in countries with centralized governments, for example in parts of – Asia and in Russia, and in countries such as France, where nuclear energy is the predominant source of electricity. Of paramount concern during the symposium was the abrupt awareness of the feasibility of a terrorist attack against a nuclear facility brought on by the events of September 11.