PS: A lot of past regulations seem dumb today, but power was not the primary goal which shaped a lot of policy.
Nope. They were, in fact, designed in a manner that made it very difficult/inefficient to use them to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Reactors designed to produce weapons-grade material operate in a completely different regime. In particular, you need to refuel them on a short continuous cycle, lest the desired plutonium be burned up in the normal operation of the reactor. Power reactors, by contrast, were designed to burn up much more of the fuel, and be refueled all at once.
However, the lack of reprocessing beyond simple plutonium exaction increased the demand for uranium ore. This lowered prices and because waste was not reprocessed early stockpiles where created, even if they where not in fact used. So, the impact would have been minimal except the lack of innovative R&D calcified the industry around this approach.
Further, there was an actual attempt to extract plutonium from civilian reactors: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Valley_Demonstration_Proj... was really a legacy of this failure as it only produced 4,373 lb of plutonium vs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanford_Site which produced most of the US's plutonium for nuclear weapons. Which is why I feel this is a little more nuanced than your suggesting.
Early commercial nuclear reactors, here the British Calder Hall Power Station, were producing plutionium and electricity.
The UK now sits on around 140 tons of plutonium from fuel reprocessing...
The US has almost 7,000.
The US has never used commercial power reactors to produce plutonium, because they simply aren't well-suited for the purpose.
That's not true. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Valley_Demonstration_Proj...
2000 kg of plutonium is a rounding error, given that well over 1 million kg of plutonium have been produced since WWII.
It's a dual-use reactor: plutonium and electricity production (200 MWe).
> Any reactor produces some amount of energy
But not electricity. For that a power plant has also turbines, generators, etc., ...
The US for example had no electricity production in the early reactors for Plutonium production.
But the US Hanford N produced both Plutonium and electricity for the commercial grid for 21 years...
Yes,but if you don't do that, you're just wasting energy. The US realized that, which is why they added electricity generation to the N Reactor. Both were still designed to create plutonium, and would not be built without the aim of nuclear weapons.
It's like saying we grow the same corn for the edible part and for biomass. While technically true, the edible part is driving the production.
ARPANET was designed, built, and operated to enable the exchange of information in the face of nuclear annihilation of cities.
The big famous radio dish on top of the hill behind Stanford and the signals research that went into it was placed there to look for anti-ICBM radar signals bouncing off of the moon from Russia.
We are standing on a mountain of tech based on research driven by the cold war. Nuclear energy is no different.