Peaceful, but Dangerous? | 2021 | Events

Peaceful, but Dangerous? Mexico’s Nuclear Energy Project
Arturo C. Sotomayor
Arturo C. Sotomayor
George Washington University
November 17, 2021


Mexico has been a pioneer of both regional nonproliferation efforts and nuclear energy development in Latin America. Mexico’s interest in nuclear energy goes back to the early 1950s when the Eisenhower administration launched the Atoms for Peace initiative, which enabled Mexican scientists to benefit from nuclear scientific cooperation agreements. Currently, the country has two nuclear reactors that produce close to 5% of Mexico’s electricity. The plant has been inspected and certified by multiple international agencies, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But recent trends have raised concerns about safety and security in Mexico’s Laguna Verde nuclear plant. These security concerns include incidents of illicit trafficking of radioactive material, intense earthquake activity near the plant, rising levels of military presence in the nuclear field, as well as technology and environmental concerns. While Mexico’s nuclear project remains peaceful, the likelihood of a nuclear safety crisis remains high. This presentation thus focuses on two key questions: Why has the Mexican case been historically neglected by the nuclear security community? Why should the nuclear community pay more attention to Mexico’s nuclear development? 


Arturo C. Sotomayor is Associate Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Security Policy Studies M.A. Program in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University (GW). His areas of interest include civil-military relations in Latin America; UN peacekeeping participation by South American countries; Latin American comparative foreign policy, and nuclear policy in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. He has edited three books, published multiple journal articles, and is the author The Myth of the Democratic Peacekeeper: Civil-Military Relations and the United Nations (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014), which was the winner of the 2015 Luciano Tomassini Latin American International Relations Book Award. Before joining the GW faculty in the fall of 2018, he taught at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, Tulane University, and the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas CIDE, in Mexico City.  He received his M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University and his B.A. degree in international relations from Technological Autonomous Institute of Mexico (ITAM).