November 1997 Editorial
France to begin with
France currently produces about 80% of the world's separated plutonium.
Whereas the production of military plutonium is almost at a standstill
in all the nuclear weapon countries, the production of civil plutonium
is flourishing in France. While US and Russia are trying to find a solution
for the management of about 100 tonnes of military plutonium from dismantled
weapons, the amount of plutonium stored in France is increasing by 10
tonnes per year, and represented more than 65 tonnes at the end of 1996.
Bearing in mind that roughly 10 kg is enough to build a nuclear explosive
device and that a few micrograms of inhaled plutonium can cause lung
cancer, this evolution is particularly disquieting.
Moreover, decisions relating to plutonium are discussed behind the
closed doors of industry and the higher civil service. Information is
not freely available and members of parliament are permanently faced
with fait accompli situations. Plutonium Investigation, with ten issues
per year, each focused on a different country, is committed to exposing
the issues at stake in the plutonium industry together with revealing
information on the what's happening behind the scenes in this very special
industry far removed from democratic controls.
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