Fourth quarter of 2002

Nuclear disarmament for peace: a beautiful pretext for the world nuclear industry

WISE-Paris, 17 October 2002

[Posted 17/10/2002]

Various options to neutralize « surplus » military plutonium have been elaborated since the plutonium disposition agreement signed between the U.S. and Russia on 1 September, 2000. Under pressure from the plutonium industry, the « immobilization option », the conditioning of plutonium for final storage as radioactive waste, has been abandoned in favour of the « MOX option », whose purpose is to convert the military plutonium into mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel (MOX) and use it in « civil » reactors.

Under the name of « The Western Option », a rather strange association called the “Nuclear Disarmament Forum” (NDF) has been promoting Russian-European trade in weapons-grade plutonium nuclear fuel for several months. The plan is to build a fuel fabrication infrastucture in Russia, funded by the U.S. and the G-8 countries, to produce MOX from military plutonium. This MOX would be shipped to Western Europe to be irradiated in European reactors (in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and potentially in Sweden, in Spain or in France). Spent MOX would be returned to Russia (long-term storage, reprocessing or final disposal). For NDF, the MOX could be « leased » to European nuclear companies, which would be a way to fund the Russian nuclear industry. This proposal merges with the highly controversial project to develop an international spent fuel disposal site in Russia, with the purpose of importing 20,000 tons of foreign spent nuclear fuel (SNF) for final storage. (1)

Greenpeace International suggests, in a recent briefing on NDF’s “Western Option”, (2) that « Each of the key players in this game of plutonium fuel trading have a range of motives for promoting the ‘Western Option’, whether it be an interest in helping to perpetuate an ailing plutonium industry or getting nuclear utilities out of the dilemma of how to take responsibility of their own spent fuel management and disposition. » For the U.S. and the G-8 countries, the « Western Option » is a possibility to get rid of the Russian military plutonium at lower cost. For Russia, it represents a way to fund their nuclear industry developments by the international community. For the European nuclear companies at last, it would be a possibility to purchase nuclear fuel at dumping prices. This explains why NDF is also backed by a number of European nuclear power utilities. According to Greenpeace International, the main companies involved in the « Western Option » project are « reactor operator RWE and GNS (nuclear transport cask manufacturer) from Germany, Vattenfall (reactor operator and fuel manufacturer) of Sweden, as well as senior Russian industry representatives, TVEL (Russian fuel manufacturer). Others listed as having provided important assistance to the project include the financial consultants, Catey of Switzerland, and DBE of Germany, which specializes in nuclear waste disposal; and Atomspetstrans, a nuclear transport division of the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy, Minatom. » (3)

The NDF details its proposals on the website of another project it carries out, called « Demiurgus Peace International. » (4) The « Western Option » proposal is presented there by the CEO of NDF, Anton Bykov, as « an attempt to unify all the Christian Churches in their efforts to completely and utterly deny terrorists any access to radioactive materials of weapons quality ». It is moreover specified that « Demiurgus Peace International plans to organize in December 2003 « a major international conference » intitled « Christian world against the threat of nuclear terrorism », whose purpose is « to unite efforts of Christian organizations in both East and West in a struggle against the threat of nuclear terrorism ». Amongst the initiators, a community of the church of St. Nicolas in Manhattan, « ruined by barbarians of the XXI century »...


  1. See « Basic Safety Requirements Jeopardize Russian International Nuclear Waste Dump Program », WISE-Paris, 27 June 2002.
  2. Expanding the Threat of Russian Weapons-Grade Plutonium – “The Western Option”, Briefing Paper, Greenpeace International, October 2002. To download it :
  3. Expanding the Threat of Russian Weapons-Grade Plutonium – “The Western Option”, Briefing Paper, Greenpeace International, October 2002.
  4. The whole NDF report about the « Western Option » can be found at :

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