Administration May Abandon Plutonium Disposition Project

By Bleek, Philipp C. | Arms Control Today, September 2001 | Go to article overview

Administration May Abandon Plutonium Disposition Project


Bleek, Philipp C., Arms Control Today


THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION is reportedly considering pulling out of a troubled U.S.-Russian project to make substantial quantities of military plutonium unusable for weapons purposes.

Citing unnamed sources, The New York Times reported August 21 that the National Security Council is likely to recommend abandoning the plutonium disposition program. A former Clinton administration official substantiated that account during an interview but emphasized that the issue remains undecided due, in large part, to resistance from both the Department of Energy and Congress. The Energy Department did not return calls seeking comment.

At an August 21 press briefing, State Department spokesman Phillip Reeker said that an administration review of the project had "recently" concluded and that the administration plans to "consult with Congress prior to making any decisions."

Washington and Moscow agreed in June 2000 to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapons-origin plutonium. Russia plans to convert its plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel, which it will irradiate in nuclear reactors, while the United States plans to irradiate 25.5 tons of material and immobilize another 8.5 tons in ceramic and glass. (Washington also intends to immobilize about 18 additional tons of non-weapons-grade plutonium.)

The initiative's substantial and rising cost is one key factor apparently driving the administration to reconsider the project. A March 2001 Energy Department analysis projects the total cost of implementing the U.S. half of the project at $6.6 billion, up from a previous estimate of approximately $4 billion. The more than 50 percent increase resuits largely from the irradiation component's rising costs.

The Energy Department analysis projected the cost of the Russian half of the initiative at about $1.8 billion, only slightly above previous estimates. But another March 2001 analysis by a joint U.S.-Russian working group places that figure between $1.8 billion and $2.8 billion, the broad range due in large part to technical uncertainties.

Concerns about costs led the administration to suspend design work on a plutonium immobilization plant earlier this year. John Gordon, head of the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration, told a House Armed Services subcommittee in June that the suspension was required to spread program costs over a longer period of time. But Gordon assured lawmakers that, despite the suspension, the department "continues to pursue" both irradiation and immobilization.

The Energy Department has reassigned program staff involved in the immobilization project and is dismantling key infrastructure, signaling that the suspension is unlikely to be short term.

The situation has alarmed South Carolinian officials, who are concerned that the immobilization track's suspension will require their state to store some of the processed material on a long-term basis. The state's Savannah River nuclear site is due to begin processing plutonium to prepare it for both irradiation and immobilization in the coming months, but a substantial portion of the plutonium is not readily suitable for irradiation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Administration May Abandon Plutonium Disposition Project
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.