First quarter of 2000

Long-term nonproliferation program for Russia

Factsheet Released by the US Department of Energy on the Plutonium Initiative with Russia, February 7, 2000

[Posted 14/02/2000]

As part of the President's FY 2001 Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative, the Department of Energy is launching a $100 million collaborative program with Russia to reduce the proliferation challenges posed by Russian nuclear facilities and weapons-usable nuclear material, especially separated plutonium from the civilian nuclear power sector.

This new initiative is a key element in a broad U.S. effort in Russia to end the production of fissile materials and reduce existing stockpiles, an effort that includes the Plutonium Disposition Program, the HEU Purchase Agreement, the Plutonium Production Reactor Agreement, and the Core Conversion Agreement. All of these activities, as well as the hundreds of millions of dollars we are spending to improve fissile material security in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, reflect our deep concerns over the risks of theft and diversion of nuclear materials in the unique circumstances of the post-Cold War environment.

Nonproliferation and the Nuclear Fuel Cycle ($70 Million)

Since 1992, the United States has invested substantial resources to collaborate with Russia to secure and eliminate weapons-grade nuclear materials from Russia's military nuclear program.

Key aspects of this new initiative include strengthening security and accounting for existing civil plutonium stockpiles; preventing the further accumulation of separated plutonium in the U.S. and Russia from spent fuel produced by civil nuclear power production; and the possible misuse of civil nuclear technologies to further weapons programs.

Key collaborative programs in FY 2001 will include:

Preventing further accumulation of separated plutonium. Each year tons of plutonium are separated from spent fuel from nuclear power plants. The Administration proposes a U.S.-Russian moratorium on increasing the stockpile of separated plutonium by the suspension of spent fuel reprocessing. To support this moratorium, it will be necessary to design, license, and construct a dry storage facility in Russia for civil reactor spent fuel. In addition, funds will also support accelerated completion of material control, and accounting work on tens of tons of civil plutonium currently stored at the Mayak site. In the long term, the utilization and disposition of the plutonium and spent fuel will be determined by each party according to the status of fuel cycle development. ($45 million)

Enhancing the proliferation resistance of reactors and nuclear fuel cycles. A collaborative research and development effort will focus on developing nuclear fuel cycle options that maximize technological barriers to proliferation. The stages of collaboration include refining nonproliferation performance metrics for fuel cycle technologies, evaluating specific technologies against those metrics, and development of the most promising technology options, incorporating safety, environmental and economic considerations as well as nonproliferation. ($20 million)

Spent fuel and nuclear waste collaboration. The United States and Russia will increase research collaboration on long term solutions that address the world-wide accumulations of plutonium- bearing nuclear spent fuel. This will include further developing the science underlying repositories, exploring other possibilities to manage spent fuel and high-level radioactive waste, and researching the issues involved in spent fuel storage, specifically including environmental and safety issues. ($5 million)

Implementation of these programs is conditioned on Russia fulfilling its commitment to curtail nuclear cooperation with Iran. Restrictions will continue on Russian nuclear entities that engage in nuclear assistance to Iran.

The new U.S. initiative regarding the civilian nuclear fuel cycle is focused exclusively on Russia and is not intended to address civilian fuel cycle activities elsewhere. Specifically, the new initiative will not in any way affect U.S. undertakings in 1993 and thereafter to maintain existing commitments regarding the use of plutonium in civil nuclear programs in Western Europe and Japan.

Nonproliferation and the Russian Nuclear Infrastructure ($30 million)

Funds will support new initiatives for securing weapons-usable nuclear materials in Russia, accelerate the closure of Russian nuclear weapons assembly ("serial production") facilities, support the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy Situation Crisis Center, and initiate a program to repatriate to Russia weapons- usable research reactor fuel from Soviet-supplied research reactors outside that country.

Materials Protection. Control. and Accounting (MPC&A). Additional funds will help to implement new efforts to consolidate nuclear materials to fewer sites and fewer buildings and to expand DOE MPC&A activities into a new category of Russian facilities: highly sensitive Russian Navy nuclear sites. ($15 million)

Accelerated Closure of Serial Production Facilities. New funds will help to implement strategic plans for the closure of nuclear warhead production capabilities at Avangard and Penza- 19, including financing for non-military projects to support displaced warhead production workers. ($ 10 million)

Situation Crisis Center: Russian Research Reactor Spent Fuel Acceptance Program. Funds will support expansion of emergency management and response cooperation to permit networking of Russian nuclear complex facilities and the Ministry of Atomic Energy Situation Crisis Center ($2 million) and will facilitate negotiations on an internationally funded initiative to cooperate with Russia on repatriating weapons-usable nuclear materials from Soviet-supplied research reactors abroad. ($3 million)

Back to contents