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New Report Warns of Threat From Delays In Destroying Surplus Weapons Plutonium

WASHINGTON—The Center for Strategic and International Studies today released a new report warning that delays in the U.S. program for disposing of surplus weapons plutonium are stalling a similar effort in Russia, increasing the chances that Russian nuclear material may fall into the hands of rogue nations or terrorists. The following is a statement by Marvin Fertel, the Nuclear Energy Institute's senior vice president for nuclear infrastructure support and international programs, in response to the CSIS report.

"Along with the rest of the world, the U.S. nuclear industry applauded when Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin committed the United States and Russia to destroy surplus weapons plutonium nearly four years ago. Much progress has been made since those historic commitments were made in 1994.

"The industry has been called upon to render surplus plutonium unsuitable for weapons by using it to make fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. We share the urgency of the CSIS panel that the momentum of the U.S. plutonium disposition program must be increased in the near future. Certainly, as CSIS recommends, personal involvement by the president would give the U.S. program a big boost."

"The U.S. nuclear industry plays a leading role in the government's initiative. The U.S. Department of Energy can best carry out the plutonium disposition effort by developing a program that is certain, predictable and effective. DOE must issue its final decision on the quantity of surplus plutonium to be disposed as mixed oxide fuel reactors in a timely manner and lay out an aggressive program for testing this fuel in nuclear power plants. More broadly, governmental leadership is needed to bring together the non-proliferation community, industrial participants and the public on a common agenda to rid our world of surplus weapons materials as soon as possible.


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