Challenging Nuclear Energy in France

Challenging Nuclear Energy in France  Although the construction of nuclear reactors in France received widespread support from the political and industrial elite, it did not always play out smoothly. A new look at the challenges and questions that shook the 1970s and 1980s. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also gave rise to a bitter opposition to nuclear energy. Marked by the scale of the devastation, pacifists began to coalesce into movements. Troubled by the proliferation of nuclear arsenals and the risk of atomic warfare between the superpowers during the Cold War, intellectuals and celebrities the world over united to sign the Stockholm Appeal. Drafted by Fréderic Joliot-Curie, the petition demanded the prohibition of nuclear weapons. More than 3 million people signed, including a very young Jacques Chirac, Lionel Jospin, Pablo Picasso, Pablo Neruda, and Yves Montand. This criticism resonated strongly with citizens and politicians alike, but it did not lead to the disappearance of nuclear arsenals. The Non-Proliferation Treaty and the START and SALT I and II agreements at least reduced the number of nuclear warheads and by a discriminatory logic, reserved their possession to a small number of countries. In the 1970s in France, this opposition to military uses of nuclear power extended to civilian uses as well. The launch of the construction of nuclear power plants under the Messmer Plan, which took place without any...

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