Thorium, once believed to be a nuclear wonder fuel, might not actually be as miraculous as first thought. In fact, nuclear energy specialists wrote in the journal Nature that the promotion of thorium as a superior fuel for future nuclear energy is unwise since it not proliferation-resistant, as once thought.
Experts determined that thorium can be produced covertly and produce small quantities of uranium-233, which is used in nuclear weapons. In fact, this process could most likely be undertaken with standard laboratory equipment, making it easy to produce uranium-233 covertly without oversight from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or related organizations.
Thorium is widely seen as an alternative nuclear fuel source to uranium. It is thought to be three to four times more naturally abundant, with substantial deposits spread around the world. Some countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are exploring its potential use as fuel in civil nuclear energy programs.
Experts argue that the most likely security threat is from potential proliferator states, and they strongly recommend that the IAEA should perform the appropriate monitoring of thorium-related nuclear technologies for deterrence.
The report also calls for measures to control the short-term irradiation of thorium-based materials with neutrons, and for the elimination of in-plant reprocessing of thorium-based fuels.