It was hearing the amalgam of the civil nuclear energy industry and the military nuclear project that struck me harder than the privatisation of moving nuclear waste across the seas. I asked about the phrase only to be told it was common parlance. Everyone uses it.
At a social event, in an informal, private context, on the Cumbrian side of the Solway, a man asked me what I did and I returned the question. ‘I work in the civil-military nuclear industries’ he answered. I asked again to make sure I heard it. ‘I work in the civil-military nuclear industries. I’m a manager at [x].’ He said that the company is among those involved in the future movement of radioactive waste from around the world to Sellafield.
It was hearing the amalgam of the civil nuclear energy industry and the military nuclear project that struck me harder than the privatisation of moving nuclear waste across the seas. I asked about the phrase only to be told it was common parlance. Everyone knows what it means.
Historically, there has been considerable political and cultural work to keep the military development of uranium weapons and the civil energy production industries perceived as unequivocally separate entities. In the early years of nuclear energy production, the separation was to diminish associations with nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMD). More recently the contrived separation serves to maintain a nuclear energy industry which serves the Military need for materials, such as plutonium and tritium, and to maintain the UK as a high-status producer of WMD. Too, the concentration of human expertise in a specific – and remote – locale serves both industries.
See Oliver Tickell writing in the Ecologist, and the reporting by Philip Johnstone and Andy Stirling on the industrial and civilian infrastructures supporting the provision of nuclear submarines, WMD and nuclear energy production, here and here.
These investigative accounts could be seen as speculating on a situation in which the civil and the military industries have necessary associations, with evidence possibly more inferred than direct.
Hearing the semantic bond, the casual and everyday conceptual amalgam of ‘civil-military nuclear industry’, as a commonplace, working, reliable jargon was cold evidence of a kind.
I have since found the use of ‘civil-military’ in contexts other than nuclear production, to describe the co-operation deemed necessary in addressing ‘hybrid threats’ and ‘hybrid wars’. See: A Civil-Military Response to Hybrid Threats edited by Eugenio Cusumano and Marian Corbe (2017).