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Avoiding The Next Fukushima: France Studies Nuclear Safety

France, which gets the vast majority of its electricity from nuclear power, is looking hard at safety at its 59 plants after the disaster at the Fukushima reactors in Japan. At the EDF energy giant, this world leader in atomic energy tries to show it is a

Avoiding The Next Fukushima: France Studies Nuclear Safety
Jean-Claude Lewandowski

BUGEY - Through a window, the movements of the five men are hard to interpret. Pacing across the room below, they exchange a few words, consult large files, maneuver buttons. Behind them is an enormous panel with lights and dials. The resemblance to pictures of the control room of the Fukushima plant's No 3 reactor is striking.

Housed in a sort of bunker next to a functioning nuclear plant, this room is the hub of a training center of French energy giant EDF in the eastern town of Bugey, l'Ain. It is an exact copy of the real control room of reactor No 2, and operators come here for training at least once a year. Energy safety experts have long studied France, which is among the world's leaders in nuclear power, counting on its 59 plants to supply nearly 80 percent of the country's electricity. France is also the world's largest net exporter of electricity.

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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