Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Nuclear Confab to Urge 'Minimized' Stocks of Bomb-Usable Plutonium Nuclear Confab to Urge 'Minimized' Stocks of Bomb-Usable Plutonium

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Global Security Newswire

Nuclear Confab to Urge 'Minimized' Stocks of Bomb-Usable Plutonium

March 24, 2014

A draft statement for global leaders attending this week's nuclear summit includes a promise to maintain only "minimum" stocks of weapon-usable plutonium.

A January version of the Nuclear Security Summit 2014 communique, which is to go for approval before all 53 nations participating in the two-day Hague event, would for the first time urge participating countries to work on limiting their civilian stocks of plutonium, Foreign Policy reports.

The not-yet-issued statement also urges worldwide reductions in weapons-grade uranium. Either substance can be used in non-military settings, but also potentially could be applied toward building a nuclear weapon.

 

"We encourage states to minimize their stocks of HEU [highly enriched uranium] and to keep their stockpile of separated plutonium to the minimum level, consistent with national requirements," the provisional communique states. President Obama and 52 other world leaders are attending the two-day event.

The specific wording has yet to be agreed to by all summit participants, according to informed insiders and notes on the draft communique.

The previous two summits in 2010 and 2012 focused on reducing civilian supplies of HEU material, which has fewer commercial uses.

Separated plutonium can be used to power warheads and , if reprocessed, used to fuel atomic-energy reactors. The latter use has caused a number of countries such as India, Japan and Russia to make plutonium-burning reactors a focus of their nuclear-power sectors.

Meanwhile, France and the United Kingdom have generated plutonium for export, according to the magazine. Elsewhere, South Korea is angling to be allowed to use plutonium reprocessing technology in a new atomic trade deal being negotiated with the United States.

The atomic-energy sector's reliance on plutonium has caused global stocks of the nuclear material to rise even as HEU caches are being reduced -- in large part due to the national commitments made at previous nuclear-security summits. Worldwide plutonium stocks are presently assessed at 490 tons, enough to power tens of thousands of warheads.

Jon Wolfsthal, deputy director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said Washington for years has been attempting to convince nations possessing large quantities of plutonium to promise to cap or lower the amount of material they hold in reserve.

However, nations with atomic-energy sectors "have been reluctant to link the issue of nuclear terrorism to their stockpiles of commercial plutonium," out of concern that doing so would draw negative attention to their own plutonium stocks, he said.

As host of this year's summit, the Netherlands has been leading the campaign to include wording on plutonium minimization in the summit's joint statement, according to one informed source cited by the magazine.

Japan on Monday announced it would surrender hundreds of pounds of weapon-usable plutonium to the United States as part of its so-called "gift-basket" to the Nuclear Security Summit process.

This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Job Board
Search Jobs
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
Deputy Director of Transit Operations
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Jose, CA
Structural Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | New Haven, CT
Transportation Planner
American Society of Civil Engineers | Salinas, CA
Assessment and Remediation Team Lead
American Society of Civil Engineers | Regina, SK
Quality Systems Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers | Greensboro, NC
Quality Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Attica, IN
Senior Water Resource Project Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers | Fairfax, VA
Civil Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Steamboat Springs, CO
Entry Level Geotechnical Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Albany, NY
Sales Engineer-Process Automation/Instrumentation
American Society of Civil Engineers
Senior Project Manager- Transportation
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Antonio, TX
Materials Engineer 2
American Society of Civil Engineers | IL
Land Surveyor
American Society of Civil Engineers
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus