A 22-year effort by Russia and the United States to permanently dispose of tons of plutonium that once fueled thousands of their nuclear weapons experienced a new setback this week, when Russian president Vladimir Putin abruptly announced his country’s withdrawal from an agreement spelling out how the work was to proceed. Putin’s Oct. 3 announcement blamed the withdrawal in part on “unfriendly actions by the United States,” without specifying any. But the Obama administration hasn’t been bashful with the Russians, or with the public, about its own desire to step away from the agreement, because of the work’s high costs and technical challenges – not because of notably worsening relations. The disposal method that Washington has been pursuing – and which is spelled out in the now-cancelled agreement – involves building a plant at the Savannah River Site nuclear installation in South Carolina to convert 34 tons of weapons-usable plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear power plants while Russia converted a like amount. But a report by the Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last month said construction of the so-called Mixed Oxide (MOX) plant alone would not be complete until 2048 and that it would cost more than $17 billion, or roughly four times the cost promised in 1994, when the deal with Russia was initially struck.
Public Integrity 3rd Oct 2016 read more »
Russia has suspended its 2000 agreement with the USA to reduce their surplus weapons-grade plutonium. The suspension was made via a presidential decree issued yesterday ‘on the management and disposition of plutonium designated as no longer required for defence purposes and related cooperation in this area and the protocols to this agreement’.
World Nuclear News 4th Oct 2016 read more »