Oliver Stone’s Nuclear Now documentary champions atomic energy

Renowned Hollywood director Oliver Stone remains a staunch advocate for nuclear power, even amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. In his latest documentary, Nuclear Now, Stone argues that the dangers of nuclear power have been greatly exaggerated, especially when compared to the devastating impact of fossil fuels on human health and the environment.

Based on research from the book A Bright Future, Stone asserts that nuclear power is essential for meeting modern energy demands while reducing carbon emissions. He highlights the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 as an example, stating that although it was the deadliest nuclear incident, its impact pales in comparison to the daily damage caused by fossil fuels.

“Russia had the biggest accident,” Stone said in an online briefing with the US Foreign Press Association. “America didn’t really have accidents. They have hysteria. We feel that hysteria led to the closing-down of the industry.”

Stone’s documentary contends that Hollywood and the fossil fuel industry have played a significant role in perpetuating overblown fears of nuclear power. Films such as Silkwood, the China Syndrome, and Dr Strangelove have contributed to this hysteria. Additionally, the Rockefeller Foundation, supported by oil money, promoted studies warning of radioactivity’s dangers, neglecting to mention that it occurs naturally in our environment.

Countries like the United States, Germany, and Japan have been moving away from nuclear power, while France, Sweden, and Russia have continued to invest in the industry. Stone argues that Russia has become a leader in the sector, exporting both power and technology.

However, Stone is concerned that the conflict in Ukraine and rising tensions between the US and Russia may further hinder the advancement of nuclear power and the battle against climate change. Recently, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned the United Nations Security Council about the risks posed by the war to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine.

Despite these concerns, Stone believes that the dangers are overhyped. He cites the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant incident in Japan, which did not result in any deaths, while the earthquake and tsunami that caused it led to 18,000 fatalities. Isuru Seneviratne, executive director of Nuclear New York, a nuclear advocacy group, agrees that chemical plants pose even greater risks to civilians.

Stone acknowledges that the Soviet Union initially lied about the Chernobyl accident, which killed 50 people and released 400 times more radiation than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. However, he criticises Germany’s call for the European Union to sanction Russian nuclear power as “stupid” and counterproductive, given the climate emergency and Germany’s decision to close all its nuclear plants.

Stone believes that the West should be partnering with Russia and China on nuclear power to reduce climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions before it is too late. He has previously worked in Russia, gaining access to Chernobyl and Russian nuclear officials for the filming of Nuclear Now.

“You’ve got to hear the other side,” Stone insisted. “You can’t just jump to conclusions spawned by the Western press.”

While the idea of Russia, the US, and Ukraine working together on nuclear power may seem far-fetched in today’s climate, Nuclear Now highlights a time when US leaders advocated a similar approach. The documentary features US President Dwight D Eisenhower’s 1953 Atoms for Peace speech to the United Nations, which led to the creation of the IAEA.

World News


With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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