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Russia, U.S. Outline Plutonium Pact

November 26, 2007 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 85, Issue 48

Renewed support for a stalled agreement in which Russia and the U.S. each would dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium after using it as reactor fuel was announced by top officials of the two countries last week. The plan calls for the U.S. to cooperate with Russia to convert the Russian weapons-grade plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel and irradiate it in two fast reactors in Russia. The U.S. agreed to contribute $400 million to the plan. The countries also agreed that the fast reactors will not be used to create new stocks of separated weapons-grade plutonium. The U.S. has a similar program getting under way to dispose of 34 metric tons of its own surplus plutonium at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site. Disposition is expected to take years at a rate of 1.5 metric tons annually, but as part of the latest deal, the two countries will cooperate in developing an advanced gas-cooled, high-temperature reactor, which could speed up plutonium disposal. In the 1990s, Russia and the U.S. agreed to a plan that each would dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium, but both later backed away from parts of the deal.


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