World Nuclear Association

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The World Nuclear Association is a London-based lobby group that "promotes nuclear energy and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry". It aims to be a "truly global organization geared to perform a full range of international roles to support the nuclear industry in fulfilling its enormous growth potential". It aims to:

  • provide a global forum for sharing knowledge and insight on evolving industry developments
  • strengthen industry operational capabilities by advancing best-practice internationally
  • speak authoritatively for the nuclear industry in key international forums
  • improve the international policy and public environment in which the industry operates.[1]


WNA says that its members include "virtually all world uranium mining, conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication; all reactor vendors; major nuclear engineering, construction, and waste management companies; and nearly 90% of world nuclear generation. Other WNA members provide international services in nuclear transport, law, insurance, brokerage, industry analysis and finance."[1]

In November 2012, more than 180 organisations were World Nuclear Association members, according to a list on the organisation's website.[2]

As of September 2013 the WNA states that its membership "has grown to encompass almost every enterprise in the global nuclear industry". Its Annual WNA Symposium is "the industry's premier international meeting, attracting an attendance of over 700 leaders and specialists from more than 25 countries" as well as "also drawing increased attention from non-industry professionals who recognize nuclear power's central importance in securing our world's energy and environmental future". [3]

Nuclear is 'sustainable'

WNA members sign a code of ethics which states that nuclear is a "‘sustainable development’ technology because its fuel will be available for multiple centuries, its safety record is superior among major energy sources, its consumption causes virtually no pollution, its use preserves valuable fossil resources for future generations, its costs are competitive and still declining, and its waste can be securely managed over the long-term." It adds that nuclear power is "a unique and indispensable tool of sustainable global development". [4]

Rebranding Nuclear

The WNA was formerly known as the Uranium Institute, which looked after the interests of uranium producers. It changed its name in 2001 because its then Director General, John Ritch wanted the organisation to be "more proactive" and have more "clout". [5] Ritch said the WNA's objective was to "rachet up" the WNA's traditional promotional role to "a much higher level" of power. [6]

The WNA also embarked on a concerted public relations campaign to present nuclear power as sustainable, safe and necessary.

In 2001, it produced a 12-minute video, in ten languages, giving all the major arguments for nuclear power. Ritch said this was designed to "jump-start the discussion" and "penetrate the strong psychological barriers" against nuclear. [7]

But within months the International Nuclear Societies Council and the International Nuclear Energy Academy rejected to join the WNA because of its "lobbying" role. [8]

Undeterred, in 2002, one of the sessions at the WNA's Annual Conference included the discussion on "recent advances in communications with opinion formers and the general public on nuclear issues". One of the participants was Sir Bernard Ingham, from the Supporters of Nuclear Energy. [9]

In 2004, the WNA's Ian Hore-Lacy said: "With carbon emissions threatening the very stability of the biosphere, the security of our world requires a massive transformation to clean energy,".[10]

Ritch argued that public opposition to nuclear power is irrational. "Current nuclear generation is enormously safe. Year after year it churns out electricity without incident. There has not been one instance in history where civil nuclear plants have been used as a means of getting nuclear weapons... When you force the general public to face facts, the case for nuclear becomes very persuasive. In Sweden you have a classic case of public debate leading to public enlightenment." [11]

Having made the case for nuclear, the WNA then asked for subsidies. In a speech in Paris in 2005, Ritch said: "As a step toward energy independence and as an urgent environmental imperative, it is essential that national governments take the steps necessary to incentivise immediate nuclear investments." He added that "this pump-priming can be achieved by a temporary production subsidy, by absorbing some first-of-a-kind engineering costs." [12]

WNA's main messages

A speech given by Ritch in 2006 contained many of the messages that the WNA had been pushing since 2001.[13]

Nuclear Will Save Us from the Apocalypse

Ritch said that nuclear power was the only way to fuel fast-developing nations without big rises in greenhouse gases. He said: "Greenhouse gas emissions, if continued at the present massive scale, will yield consequences that are – quite literally – apocalyptic: increasingly radical temperature changes, a worldwide upsurge in violent weather events, widespread drought, flooding, wildfires, famine, species extinction, rising sea levels, mass migration and epidemic disease that will leave no country untouched".

He finished by saying: "If these predictions hold true, the combined effect would be the death of not just millions but of billions of people – and the destruction of much of civilization on all continents”.

Central to the Clean-Energy Revolution

To avoid this catastrophe, we need “a worldwide transformation to clean forms of energy", Ritch added, attempting to position nuclear to the centre of the “clean energy” debate. He said: “Humankind cannot conceivably achieve a global clean-energy revolution without a huge expansion of nuclear power – to generate electricity, to produce hydrogen and battery power for tomorrow’s vehicles, and to desalinate seawater in response to the world’s rapidly emerging fresh-water crisis”.

A 20-fold Expansion of Nuclear

Ritch forecast a major expansion of nuclear power. He said: “We will be moving... to a world in the next 25 years in which we have more than 1,000 reactors, and by mid-century I would expect we would have 2,000 to 3,000 reactors in the world." He concluded that by the end of the century, a 20-fold increase on today's numbers would be both feasible and desirable.

Nuclear Facilities are not a Proliferation Issue

He said that concerns over nuclear proliferation should not deter further development of civilian reactors. "The nuclear proliferation danger comes not from the existence of nuclear facilities, but from the intentions of those who possess them," he said. "The intent of an Iran or a North Korea is a geopolitical variable virtually independent of whether countries like Brazil, Canada, South Africa, or Australia develop additional nuclear facilities."

More subsidies

Despite the fact nuclear has received global subsidies of around $1 trillion over the past 50 years, Ritch re-iterated the need for the nuclear renaissance to be “pump-primed” with more taxpayers money. He said governments and international institutions should directly support nuclear investment with even more subsidies. “This economic aid will be the most cost-effective in history if it helps to prevent the globally destructive growth in greenhouse emissions that might otherwise occur in the developing world”.

No Time to Waste

Ritch added that nuclear waste will not be a problem compared with carbon emissions: "The small volume and manageability of nuclear waste represent distinct environmental assets in a world where the continuing use of our atmosphere as a carbon dumpsite is fast carrying us toward global catastrophe".

He said if we generated all the world’s energy from reactors we would create "an amount of high-level nuclear waste no greater than the amount of carbon waste that today’s power plants spew into Earth’s atmosphere every four minutes, around the clock".

Others disagree. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) a tripling of global nuclear capacity to 1000GW would require a new Yucca-sized dump to be opened somewhere every three or four years, and even without new reactors, the US will need a second dump by 2012, if Yucca sticks to its statutory limit for waste. [14]

A 'scientific research organisation'

Despite its clear lobbying role, the WNA claims special tax exemptions. In its 2005 accounts, the WNA stated: “Agreement has been reached with the UK Inland Revenue Department for the World Nuclear Association, as a scientific research organization, to be exempt from tax as it meets the requirements of Section 508 (i) of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988". [15]

Secret meeting with Downing Street

In 2006, John Ritch held a secret meeting with Tony Blair's top energy advisor Geoffrey Norris about nuclear energy.[16]

Key personnel

  • Acting Director General: Stephen Kidd
  • Director General Designate: Agneta Rising, former vice president of environment at Vattenfall.
  • Director of Public Communications: Ian Hore-Lacy. Author of the book "Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century: World Nuclear Association", published in 2006, whose foreward is written by Patrick Moore.[17]

WNA's long-standing Director General John Ritch announced his retirement in April 2012.[18]

Board members

Honorary Board Members

Contact Details

Web Address:
Address: Carlton House, 22a St. James's Square
London, SW1Y 4JH
United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0)20 7451 1520
Fax: +44 (0)20 7839 1501


  1. 1.0 1.1 About us, World Nuclear Association Website, undated, accessed 13 November 2012
  2. World Nuclear Association Membership, World Nuclear Association Website, undated, accessed 13 November 2012
  3. World Nuclear Symposium, 11-13 September 2013, Central Hall Westminster, London, acc 25 Sept 2013
  4. Ethics, World Nuclear Association Website, undated, accessed 13 November 2012
  5. Michael Knapik, "UI to be Named World Nuclear Association; Spot U Price in US Nears $9/LB, Cis Price Up", Nuclear Fuel, Vol 26, No10, 14 May, 2001, p. 2.
  6. Ann MacLachlan, "WNA Raises Nuclear's Voice, Own Profile With New Plans", Nucleonics Week, Vol42, No37, 13 September, 2001, p. 8.
  7. Ann MacLachlan, "WNA Raises Nuclear's Voice, Own Profile With New Plans", Nucleonics Week, Vol42, No37, 13 September, 2001, p. 8.
  8. Ann MacLachlan, "Two Nuclear Groups Vote Against Joining World Nuclear Association", Nucleonics Week, Vol 42, No. 38, 20 September, 2001, p. 13.
  9. Richard Adams, "City Diary", The Guardian, 6 September, 2002.
  10. John Vidal, "Nuclear Plants Bloom", The Guardian, 12 August, 2004.
  11. Andrew Murray-Watson, "Time for Blair to go Nuclear?" The Sunday Telegraph, 11 July, 2004, p. 6.
  12. Andrew Murray-Watson, "The Nuclear Option," The Sunday Telegraph, 1 May, 2005, p6.
  13. John Ritch, Accelerating the Global Nuclear Renaissance: A Human and Environmental Imperative, 15th Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference, Sydney, 16 October 2006.
  14. Brice Smith, Insurmountable Risks: The dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Climate Change, IEER 2006.
  15. World Nuclear Association, Annual Report and Accounts 2005, London.
  16. Andy Rowell and Richard Cookson, Secret nuclear talks held at No 10, The Independent, 13 January 2008
  17. Amazon website
  18. John Ritch to retire from WNA, Intersect Insight website, 23 April 2012