EXCERPT FROM OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR JESSE HELMS, CHAIRMAN, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE HEARING, APRIL 27, 1999
"A second issue of concern, Secretary Gottemoeller, is the Administrations plan to build a mixed-oxide nuclear fuel plant in Russia. While I share the Administrations desire to ensure that Russian nuclear weapons do not fall into the wrong hands, I am convinced that this program will not accomplish the stated objective. Rather, by encouraging Russia and others to utilize MOX fuel, the Administration is virtually guaranteeing that weapons grade plutonium is spread around the globe except that this will happen under the guise of peaceful nuclear cooperation. Given Russias nuclear supply relationships with countries such as Iran and India, I find this idea to be exceedingly unwise.
Moreover, the MOX option will undercut the decades-long, bipartisan effort by the United States to make clear that plutonium use for commercial power generation is a no-no. The Administration intends to establish an infrastructure here in the United States to burn excess weapons plutonium in civilian power plants. If this is done, our decades-old nonproliferation policy will begin to unravel, with perilous consequences.
I strongly object to the MOX plan. It would be far more prudent to pursue immobilization of Russian weapons material so that it cannot ever be retrieved. As for whether the United States has excess plutonium to spare, I will reserve judgement until the Administration proves that it has considered the impact this will have on the Stockpile Stewardship Program and the nuclear deterrent. I hope you will respond to my concerns during your comments, Madam Secretary."
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