In spite of major nuclear ‘accidents’ on three continents and in three different decades (Three Mile Island in 1979; Chernobyl in 1986; and Fukushima in 2011), support for nuclear power continues to be government policy in parts of Europe and in North America, whilst Asia has become the centre of the commercial nuclear world. The merits of nuclear power may be hotly debated, but it is here and it is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
The ‘nuclear question’ is conceived as a series of debates about history, science, politics, economy, culture and society, animated by nuclear technology. We examine the origins of the technology, and its evolution from a weapon of mass destruction into a commercial source of electricity. We explore the rise of the anti-nuclear movement, and its impact. We analyse the development of a ‘market’ for nuclear power, its contemporary characteristics, future prospects and national, regional, and global regulation. We also scrutinise the question of nuclear safety, and the growing controversy regarding the disposal of nuclear waste. Finally, we discuss the national and local politics surrounding the environmental and socio-economic impact of nuclear facilities, their operation, decommissioning, and legacy.