July 1999 Editorial
Spanish Civil Plutonium for Weapons in the UK and
is certainly the only country without its own nuclear weapons to both
contribute to the military plutonium stockpile of a neighbor country,
and to have the dangerous experience of four nuclear weapons "land"
on its own territory, with all the consequent contamination.
In the global plutonium picture Spain is relatively insignificant if
plutonium quantities alone are assessed. And as its government has renounced
reprocessing, aside from the interesting and important cases of irradiated
fuel already sent to France and the UK for separation, the main contemporary
issue is the long term storage or eventual final disposal of plutonium-bearing
spent fuel. In this focus Spain is similar to many countries that embarked
on a commercial scale nuclear program in the late 1960s or early 1970s,
for whom the promise of plutonium has become an expensive environmental
The covert and opaque military assistance to the French 'Force de Frappe'
nuclear warheads also serves to remind that any country that contracted
into reprocessing services with the European Union's two reprocessor
nations - France and UK - has run the risk that their plutonium has
been mixed into the weapons stockpile of these two nuclear weapon states,
which have typically not retained clear physical separation between
commercially contracted fuel and military dedicated plutonium.
It was revealed in the leading Spanish newspaper, El Pa’s, in February
1987 that Spain had secretly done research and development on its own
nuclear weapons from the 1950s. As in the case of Sweden, examined in
PI last issue No.14-15, this military atomic aspiration was abandoned.
Spain now does not even allow NATO allies' nuclear weapons to be officially
stored on Spanish soil.
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