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.
What We're Following See More »
"Chances of a government shutdown grew Monday as Republicans concluded that they would be unable to reach a long-term spending accord by the Friday deadline. GOP leaders are now turning to a short-term funding measure in hopes of keeping agencies open while talks continue, but Democratic leaders say they are unlikely to support any deal that does not protect young illegal immigrants. Aides to key negotiators from both parties planned to meet Tuesday in an effort to rekindle budget talks, setting up a Wednesday meeting of the leaders themselves. If they cannot agree, the government would shut down at midnight Friday for the first time since 2013."
“'As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come,' Feeley said, according to an excerpt of his resignation letter read to Reuters."
Sens. Ron Wyden and Rand Paul said they will oppose reauthorization of FISA's Section 702 unless the bill contains added "protections for Americans' privacy rights. The powers granted by Section 702 are only supposed to be used against foreigners on foreign soil. But an American's communications can get swept up in the NSA's surveillance dragnet if they communicate with people overseas." More robust privacy protections were voted down by the House this week when it approved the authorization, but without them, Paul and Wyden say they'll filibuster.