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U.S. Pressure Blocks Cheaper, Safer Disposal Method
in to pressure from the Bush Administration, the G-8 nations agreed today at
their summit in Kananaskis, Canada to fund a dangerous, expensive program to
fabricate mixed-oxide fuel (MOX) in Russia with plutonium from dismantled nuclear
weapons. The nations pledged to raise up
to $20 billion over a ten-year period to support various disarmament and
non-proliferation programs, initially in Russia, including disposition of
Russian fissile materials. Previous
attempts by the U.S. to raise much of the estimated $2 billion cost for the
Russian MOX program from other G-8 nations had been unsuccessful.
poorly protected weapon-usable materials in Russia and elsewhere is a worthy
goal, but spending billions of dollars on a Russian plutonium fuel program is a
colossal waste of money, noted Dr.
transportation of Russian plutonium for a MOX program would exacerbate risks of
theft or diversion of bomb materials.
If the G-8 nations are truly concerned about nuclear terrorism risks,
the last thing they should be doing is paying for the dissemination of MOX fuel
to poorly secured facilities throughout Russia, Dr. Lyman pointed out.
According to the
U.S. Energy Departments own studies, disposing of surplus plutonium by
immobilizing it in a glass matrix with highly radioactive waste would be far
cheaper, faster and safer than MOX-fuel irradiation. Russian officials prefer MOX to immobilization,
but they refuse to pay the bill, Dr. Lyman noted. The G-8 nations should insist on use of the
most effective disposition technology if they are to invest billions of their
More information about plutonium disposition and the dangers of MOX fuel are available on NCIs website at http://www.nci.org/nci-wpu.htm