Issue Date: October 6, 2008
Controlled Nuclear Fuel Cycle Backed
Creation of a system of international nuclear fuel centers to enrich uranium for use in nuclear energy power plants and to receive and possibly reprocess spent nuclear fuel was recommended in a recent study by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences. The study was driven by concerns that a growing number of countries—some 24, the report says—are considering building their first nuclear power plants and uranium enrichment facilities, which may lead to the creation of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium. As incentives to encourage countries to rely on the proposed fuel centers, the report says countries should be allowed to become part owners in the centers and have the benefit of being relieved of the need to address their nuclear waste. Participating countries should also be assured the centers would provide a dependable source of fuel for their reactors’ lifetime. The study stipulates, however, that joining nations not have an enrichment facility in operation or be developing one and that they should also be in compliance with international safeguards and nonproliferation agreements. Such a plan faces many political obstacles, the report notes, such as the worsening relations between the U.S. and Russia.
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