WASHINGTON—The U.S. effort to render surplus plutonium unsuitable for weapons reached a major milestone today as the Energy Department solicited proposals for manufacturing and using nuclear power plant fuel made with excess plutonium. The following is a statement by Marvin S. Fertel, the Nuclear Energy Institute's senior vice president for nuclear infrastructure support and international programs, in response to the Energy Department's action.
"After four years of study and planning, the Administration today has taken a measurable step toward building a government-industry partnership to make excess U.S. plutonium unsuitable for weapons and use it to generate clean electricity. The Administration is to be commended for making this essential transition step from planning to action, particularly given concerns that delays in the U.S. disposition program threaten to stall a similar—and even more important—effort in Russia.
"Just recently, the Center for Strategic and International Studies warned that such delays increase the chance that Russian nuclear weapons material could reach terrorists or rogue nations.
"The United States clearly has the technical leadership to make its unneeded weapons plutonium more secure and tap its enormous energy value. Today's announcement holds the promise of bringing real momentum to a historic opportunity for making the world a safer place. The nuclear industry is committed to supporting our government's non-proliferation objectives and will work with the Administration to implement an effective U.S. program that will also encourage Russia to move forward and dispose of its surplus plutonium."
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.