Philosophy Faculty Publications

Document Type

Encyclopedia Entry

Publication Date


Publication Source

The Oxford International Encyclopedia of Peace


The history of nuclear power in the United States began with the top-secret Manhattan Project (1942-1946), in which the first atomic bomb was produced and used in 1945 against Japan in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. According to the American Nuclear Society, a nuclear power industry association, the first U.S. city to use nuclear power for electricity was Arco, Idaho, in 1955. As of 2007, the United States had 104 operational nuclear power reactors, one nuclear power reactor under construction, and twenty-eight closed nuclear power reactors.

Between 1945, when the world became aware of the destructive power of atomic energy, and today, many people have associated nuclear power with nuclear weapons and consider the abolition of nuclear power a part of the larger project of ending nuclear proliferation and disassembling the current stores of nuclear weapons.

Those who are against nuclear power cite two major reasons for their opposition: expense, and danger for humans and the larger environment.

Proponents of nuclear power argue that nuclear power is more economical than traditional methods of producing electricity; opponents point out that the cost of nuclear power has to be figured by considering the expense of building the plant, storing waste, and decommissioning nuclear reactors, and their proponents only state the initial construction cost. Opponents also argue that the cost of building renewable energy sources (such as a windmill farm) is significantly lower than building a nuclear reactor.

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Published Version


From International Encyclopedia of Peace, Vol. 1, Nigel J. Young, Ed., 2010; pp. 67-69; reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press.

Permission documentation is on file.


Oxford University Press



Place of Publication

New York, NY

Link to published version