Disposition of United States and Russian Federation Weapon- Grade Plutonium
The G-8 today took an important step toward disposition of weapon-grade fissile material designated by the United States and Russia as excess to defense needs so that it will never again be used for weapons. The G-8 called for the development, by the 2001 Genoa Summit, of an international financing plan and multilateral cooperation arrangements for Russia's disposition program. This announcement builds on the June 5 announcement in Moscow by President Clinton and President Putin regarding completion of a bilateral Agreement for the management and disposition of weapon-grade plutonium withdrawn from their respective nuclear weapon programs.
Today's announcement carries forward the sustained G-8 efforts launched at the 1996 Moscow Nuclear Safety and Security Summit and continued at the Cologne Summit last year. The new U.S.-Russia agreement charts the course for the safe and transparent disposition of a total of 68 metric tons of weapon-grade plutonium declared excess to U.S. and Russian defense needs -- an amount that represents thousands of nuclear weapons. It advances key arms control and non-proliferation interests.
The Agreement requires each Party to dispose of no less than 34 metric tons of weapon-grade plutonium from its nuclear weapon program by irradiating it as fuel in reactors, or by immobilizing it with high-level radioactive waste, rendering it safe for geologic disposal. The goal is to begin operation of industrial-scale facilities by 2007 to achieve a disposition rate of at least 2 metric tons of plutonium per year in rough parallel and, working with other countries, to identify additional capacities at least to double that disposition rate.
The Agreement also provides for monitoring and inspection throughout the disposition process, and allows for equivalent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verification measures in lieu of bilateral monitoring activities, as may be agreed by the Parties.
Preliminary estimates for the Russian Federation's disposition program are $1.7-1.9 billion over twenty or more years. The U.S. Congress has appropriated more than $200 million for cooperation with Russia's plutonium disposition program. The Clinton Administration is requesting another $200 million in funding for 2001.
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