16 September 1996
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
A. Overall Approach
A.1 The U.S. and Russian governments, with support and cooperation from the international community, should take additional steps-- beyond those already underway-- to more rapidly reduce the security risks posed by excess weapons plutonium.
A.2 Two approaches to reducing the weapons-usability of the excess plutonium to the spent-fuel standard-- embedding the plutonium in mixed oxide (MOX) fuel for once-through use in currently operating nuclear power reactors, and vitrifying the plutonium together with fission products in glass logs of the type planned for use in immobilizing military high-level radioactive wastes-- should both be brought to the point of operability at large-scale as rapidly as practicable in both countries.
A.3 The highest standards of materials protection, control, and accounting-- corresponding to those applied to intact nuclear weapons-- should be applied to excess weapons plutonium at all storage, processing, and transport steps until it reaches the spent-fuel standard. The same is true of HEU until it has been blended down to enrichment levels too low for use in nuclear explosives.
A.4 Increased transparency about the inventories of nuclear warheads and nuclear-explosive materials possessed by the United States and Russia, and about the steps being taken to reduce these inventories, should be pursued.
A.5 The U.S. and Russian programs of warhead dismantlement and management and disposition of the associated nuclear-explosive materials should continue to proceed in parallel, seeking to complete comparable steps in this process on comparable time scales, and to reach equivalent remaining quantities of plutonium and HEU in the two military stockpiles.
A.6 Increased funding should be provided on an urgent basis for analysis, development, testing, licensing, and deployment of the
systems for management and disposition of weapons plutonium and HEU as described here.
B. Storage, Protection, Control, and Accounting
B.1 The U.S. and Russian governments should continue to cooperate in providing secure storage for fissile materials removed from nuclear weapons, and in improving security and accounting for all separated plutonium and HEU.
B.2 The United States and Russia should move quickly to implement and expand on the reciprocal information exchanges and mutual inspections related to nuclear stockpiles that have been agreed to in principle, to help ensure the transparency and irreversibility of nuclear arms reductions.
B.3 As the P-8 leaders agreed at the Moscow Nuclear Safety and Security Summit in April of 1996, excess plutonium and HEU should be placed under international safeguards as quickly as practicable.
B.4 Russia, like the United States, should begin declaring specific quantities of nuclear material to be excess to its military needs.
B.5 Both countries should seek to make additional tens of tons of material eligible for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards during 1997.
C. Disposition of Excess Plutonium
C.1 The United States and Russia should move promptly to select, authorize, fund, and bring to the point of operability at the necessary scale the specific variants of both the MOX/current-reactor approach and the vitrification-with-wastes approach that will be used for disposition of excess weapons plutonium to the spent-fuel standard in each country.
C.2 The two governments should establish appropriate managerial structures-- one in each country, as well as an international framework for managing joint activities -- to be responsible to the Presidents for carrying out this work to specified endpoints on a specified timetable.
C.3 The United States and Russia should expedite and expand their technical cooperation focused on developing, testing, and demonstrating rapidly implementable and cost-effective means for converting pits to oxide suitable for MOX-fuel fabrication, and for processing other plutonium forms to prepare them for disposition.
C.4 The United States and Russia, along with other countries with relevant experience, should expand their technical cooperation related to analyzing, testing, licensing, and demonstrating the fabrication of MOX fuel made from weapons plutonium and the use of this fuel in currently operating reactors.
C.5 The United States, Russia, and the international community should begin now to address the largest obstacle to progress on plutonium disposition beyond interim storage, which is financing and constructing adequate capacity in the two countries for processing plutonium pits into plutonium oxide and for fabricating plutonium and uranium oxides into MOX fuel.
C.6 In order to facilitate initiation of plutonium disposition in MOX fuel before new MOX plants are ready in the United States and Russia, contracts should be sought with existing European MOX fabrication plants to produce initial batches of weapons-plutonium MOX for U.S. and Russian reactors.
C.7 Because of the urgency of proceeding with disposition to the spent-fuel standard, both the United States and Russia should begin their programs for this purpose using currently operating reactors.
C.8 Work should be continued to prepare for the possibility of weapon-plutonium/MOX use beyond the U.S. and Russian reactors now planned for the first phase of the reactor-disposition approach and/or beyond the partial MOX core loadings likely to be used initially in these reactors.
C.9 The United States and Russia, along with other countries with relevant experience, should expand their technical cooperation related to analyzing, testing, licensing, and demonstrating vitrification of plutonium with high-level radioactive wastes.
C.10 The nuclear-regulatory agencies in both countries should be directed-- and funded-- to develop the procedures to review and license promptly the mox-fuel fabrication plants, reactors using MOX fuels, and plutonium-with-waste vitrification plants needed to implement weapons-plutonium disposition.
C.11 The United States and Russia should move as quickly as practicable to end additional production of weapons plutonium, including providing the necessary financing to complete their cooperative project to convert the cores of the plutonium production reactors at Seversk (Tomsk-7) and Zeleznogorsk (Krasnoyarsk-26).
C.12 The United States and Russia should begin discussions with the goal of reaching a formal agreement governing plutonium disposition.
Given the large-scale nuclear-arms reductions underway in the aftermath of the Cold War, the United States and Russia now face the unprecedented challenge of dismantling tens of thousands of surplus nuclear weapons and securely managing the hundreds of tonnes of fissile material-- plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU)-- that these weapons contained. Additional fissile material in storage for eventual use in weapons that now will not be built must also be managed under new conditions and against new threats, as must the plutonium and HEU in nuclear-research and nuclear-power establishments.
Fissile material is the key ingredient needed to build a nuclear weapon, and the knowledge of how to use either plutonium or HEU to build at least a crude (but still very powerful) nuclear bomb is widespread. Keeping these materials out of the hands of other nations and subnational groups is therefore an essential ingredient of nonproliferation and anti-terrorism policies. And creating confidence that these large stockpiles of excess fissile materials will not be re-used for weaponry by our two countries is critically important to enhance the prospects for agreement on deeper cuts in our nuclear arsenals, to help induce the other nuclear-weapon states to join the nuclear disarmament process, and to reinforce the global nonproliferation regime by indicating that the ongoing U.S. and Russian nuclear-disarmament process is genuine and not likely to be reversed.
The United States and Russia have been cooperating with each other and with other countries to address these issues. The US-Russian cooperation includes joint government-to-government activities established under the Nunn-Lugar program, lab-to-lab cooperation between the nuclear-weapons laboratories in the two countries, cooperation between the two nuclear regulatory agencies, and activities carried out through the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow. These activities are impressive, but they are not yet commensurate with the magnitude of the danger and the comprehensive approach required to address it. Much more needs to be done, and the need is urgent.
In April 1996, the Moscow Nuclear Safety and Security Summit focused new inter-national attention on the pressing international-security problem posed by the excess stocks of fissile material. The Presidents of the United States and Russia, together with the other leaders of the Group of Seven nations, expressed their determination:
The assembled leaders welcomed existing U.S.-Russian cooperation "to blend highly-enriched uranium (HEU) from dismantled nuclear weapons to low-enriched uranium (LEU) for peaceful non-explosive purposes." For the more difficult problem of excess plutonium, the leaders agreed that transformation into spent fuel or other forms equally unusable for nuclear weapons could be accomplished either by its "conversion into mixed-oxide fuel (MOX) for use in nuclear reactors" or by "vitrification or other methods of permanent disposal". They welcomed plans to conduct small-scale technology demonstrations related to these options, and called for an international experts' meeting to be held in Paris in late October of this year to examine the available options and identify possibilities for international cooperation in their implementation.
In this context, at the suggestion of Russian President Yeltsin, it was agreed in mid-1996 by Academician Yuri Ossipov, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and John H. Gibbons, Assistant to the President of the United States for Science and Technology, to establish a bilateral commission of independent scientists to make recommendations to the U.S. and Russian Presidents concerning the management and disposition of excess weapons plutonium. This U.S.-Russian Independent
Scientific Commission on Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium has been established at the initiative of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and the U.S. President's Committee of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST). The current document, produced after meetings of the Commission in Moscow in August and in Washington DC in September, with intensive work on both sides in between, represents our interim report. A more detailed final report will be produced no later than early 1997.
Our Commission has benefitted from numerous prior and ongoing studies of the fissile-materials issue in our two countries and under international auspices, including for example the work of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission on this subject, the 1992-1995 study of "Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium" by the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the 1995 PCAST review of cooperative programs to improve nuclear materials protection, control, and accounting (MPC&A), the 1995 report of the American Nuclear Society on "Protection and Management of Plutonium", and the continuing work of the Joint U.S.-Russian Plutonium Disposition Options Study. The recommendations we offer here integrate ideas developed in that other work with our own intensive joint reflection on what could and should be done now to address, more effectively and cooperatively, this compelling international-security problem.
In what follows, we first provide a more extended description of the technical and political issues that form the background for our recommendations. Then we present the recommendations in a format that provides a few sentences of explanation and justification for each one.
BACKGROUND FOR THE RECOMMENDATIONS
The Character of the Problem
Dismantlement of nuclear weapons rendered surplus by the end of the Cold War and by associated arms-control agreements and initiatives has been proceeding at rates of 1500-2000 nuclear weapons per year in each of our two countries for the past several years. These dismantlement activities reflect a welcome reduction in the danger of large-scale nuclear war that loomed over civilization for most of the second half of the 20th century. We assume, in this report, that the United States and Russia will continue on their agreed path of nuclear arms reductions, that both countries will continue to pursue their agreed goal of making these reductions irreversible, and that neither nation will take steps that could contribute to a reversal of these reductions (such as abrogating or undermining the Antiballistic Missile Treaty). Should the current arms reductions be stopped or reversed, the amount of fissile
material considered excess to military needs might be substantially reduced.
Dismantlement of surplus nuclear weapons creates not only new security benefits, but also a new set of security challenges: how to manage, protect, and ultimately utilize or otherwise dispose of the nuclear-explosive materials removed from the weapons, in ways that minimize the chance that these materials will ever be re-used for nuclear weaponry by the original possessor nations, by other nations, or by subnational groups.
The nuclear-explosive materials emerging from the weapon-dismantlement process comprise both plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU). The United States has determined that over 50 metric tonnes of the plutonium in its stockpile is excess to military needs, along with 175 tonnes of HEU. The corresponding quantities in Russia are likely to be the same or larger, given the larger Russian stockpiles of these materials. Modest quantities of either material by itself-- in the range of 4 to 6 kilograms of plutonium or 15 to 20 kilograms of HEU-- would suffice to make a "simple" fission bomb (or, in the hands of sophisticated bomb-builders, a more advanced and powerful one).
Although the quantities of excess HEU are larger than those of plutonium, and although the HEU would be somewhat easier for inexperienced bomb-makers to use in simple nuclear weapons, the disposition problem for plutonium is ultimately a more difficult one than that for HEU. This is because HEU can easily be blended with the nonexplosive uranium isotope U-238 to make low-enriched uranium (LEU) that can be used economically as fuel in the most widely employed types of nuclear power reactors, and because reversing this process to recover weapon-usable HEU from the LEU fuel requires sophisticated and costly uranium-enrichment technology possessed by relatively few countries.
While plutonium can also be blended with U-238 to make fuel usable in ordinary power reactors, this process is so costly that the resulting mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel is not economically competitive with LEU fuel, at present, for use in most currently operating reactors, even if the plutonium itself is "free". And the process is also much easier to reverse (to recover weapon-usable plutonium from MOX), requiring only chemical separation techniques, compared to the isotopic separation (enrichment) technology required to reverse the HEU-to-LEU transformation. Because nearly all mixtures of isotopes of plutonium can be used to fabricate nuclear explosives (except nearly pure Pu-238, which exists in only modest quantities), weapon plutonium cannot be "denatured" isotopically in a manner analogous to blending HEU with U-238.
Whether plutonium or HEU, however, the nuclear-explosive materials removed from surplus nuclear weapons are alike in posing requirements for a combination of security and transparency throughout four stages of the management process: (1) de-mounting, transporting, and dismantling the weapons; (2) interim storage of the nuclear-explosive materials extracted during dismantlement; (3) processing and/or utilization of these materials in ways that reduce the potential for their re-use in weapons; and (4) long-term disposition and protection of all the potentially weapon-usable residuals from whatever processing and utilization has taken place.
Current Status of Management Efforts in the United States and Russia
Since the time, at the beginning of the 1990s, when the full dimensions of the problem of managing the nuclear-explosive materials from surplus nuclear weapons began to be widely recognized, the problem has been extensively studied in both countries (and elsewhere); it has been discussed in detail by our Presidents and other heads of state in bilateral and multilateral summits, and in the Gore-Chernomyrdin meetings; and various programs for dealing with it-- including joint programs-- have been initiated. The progress resulting from these studies, top-level discussions, and programs has been substantial, but much more needs urgently to be done. In what follows, we review the current status of management efforts in relation to each of the four stages of management defined above.
STAGE 1. Substantial rates of de-mounting, transporting, and dismantling surplus nuclear weapons are underway. US-Russian cooperation under the Nunn-Lugar framework has significantly improved the security of nuclear weapons in transport, and cooperation to improve the accounting systems and physical protection measures for nuclear warheads prior to dismantlement is now underway. There is as yet no direct cooperation in relation to the dismantlement of nuclear warheads themselves. While the U.S. and Russian Presidents and other officials have agreed in principle to carry out mutual exchanges of information on weapons stockpiles and fissile material inventories, and reciprocal inspections of certain types of facilities, none of these transparency measures have yet been implemented.
STAGE 2. With respect to interim storage of the nuclear-explosive materials, the United States has adequate secure capacity for plutonium at its Pantex facility near Amarillo, Texas, and for HEU at its Y-12 facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, but is also considering building new, modern facilities for this purpose. The need for additional storage capacity on the Russian side will be met in substantial part by
a new facility now under construction at the Mayak site, funded jointly with Nunn-Lugar monies from the United States and Minatom funds in Russia. After substantial initial delays, cooperation on this facility is moving forward, though construction remains behind schedule and the facility is unlikely to open in 1998 as originally projected.
Beyond the Mayak project, wide-ranging cooperative programs are underway-- involving the US Department of Energy and the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom), the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Russian Gozatomnadzor (GAN), and direct lab-to-lab cooperation between nuclear laboratories and facilities on both sides-- to improve material protection, control, and accounting (MPC&A) at facilities, across Russia, holding plutonium or HEU. These programs address not only the plutonium and HEU removed from surplus nuclear weapons but also the inventories of these materials in civilian and military research facilities, nuclear-fuel production facilities, and naval-reactor fuel-storage sites. US support for this MPC&A work has increased from only a few million dollars two years ago to about $85 million in Fiscal Year 1996; further expansion is warranted to cover all the relevant facilities and to increase the pace of improvements.
STAGE 3. With respect to processing and/or utilization of the surplus nuclear materials in ways that reduce the potential for their re-use in weapons, actual progress in implementation has been made only in the case of HEU (which as noted above is an easier case than plutonium). The HEU Purchase Agreement concluded in February 1993, under which the United States will purchase 500 tons of Russian HEU in blended-down form over 20 years and market this material as nuclear-reactor fuel, is now being implemented, after initial delays: 6 tons of HEU was blended down and shipped to the United States in 1995, and the corresponding figure in 1996 will be 12 tons. The United States also plans to blend down most of its own surplus-weapons HEU for eventual sale as reactor fuel (with the remainder to be blended and disposed of as waste). Transparency arrangements for the blending-down operations were agreed just before the April 1996 P-8 nuclear summit and full implementation of these measures is expected to begin shortly. The pace of US purchases of Russian HEU could and should be increased, and the pace of blending-down operations on both sides could and should be accelerated-- under fully implemented transparency measures-- perhaps going even beyond the pace of the sales themselves.
The more difficult problem of how best to process and/or utilize surplus weapons plutonium in order to reduce the potential for its re-use in weapons has been studied extensively in the United States and Russia, and jointly, but no decision
has been made yet in either country on how to proceed. More specifically:
high-temperature gas reactors, and a joint US-Russian government-to-government cooperative study analyzing the technical characteristics of a wide variety of reactor, immobilization, and geologic-disposal options (without, however, drawing conclusions as to which option is best, or making recommendations).
In addition to these national and bilateral projects, the April 1996 P-8 nuclear summit called for an assessment of options for the disposition of excess weapons plutonium-- and recommendations concerning practical next steps-- by an international experts meeting scheduled in late October 1996. Follow-up meetings in 1997 are likely. The findings of this Independent Bilateral Commission will provide an important input to that experts' meeting, and the work that will follow it.
STAGE 4. Once the plutonium disposition campaign has transformed the excess weapons plutonium into forms that are no easier to use in nuclear weapons than plutonium in spent fuel, the weapons-plutonium disposition campaign itself can be said to be complete. The urgent and unique security problem posed by vast stockpiles of excess weapons plutonium will then have been reduced to one part of the broader, longer-term problem of management of spent fuel and other nuclear wastes. The forms resulting from plutonium disposition will be suitable for safe and secure storage for decades, while approaches for their final fate are being prepared. Nevertheless, in the long run, whatever plutonium remains in spent fuel or in immobilized waste forms will need to find final resting places with appropriate levels of protection against intruders, of isolation from the biosphere, and of monitoring to verify that the protection and isolation are being maintained. This fourth and last stage of the management process might involve direct disposal of spent fuel and immobilized waste forms in geologic repositories, or it might involve additional treatment (with or without reprocessing, in advanced reactors or accelerator-driven subcritical reactors, or otherwise) to fission more of the plutonium or to increase the durability of its packaging, before it is emplaced in its final resting place. In this fourth stage the residuals from the utilization or other disposition of military plutonium will represent only a fraction of a larger quantity of similar residuals from civilian nuclear-energy activities (as discussed below) and from the management of other military radioactive wastes. Extensive studies of the options for ultimate disposal of these similar waste-forms are underway in Russia, the United States, and elsewhere; and, while the addition of the residuals from disposition of military plutonium adds a few complications to these studies, there is much less urgency about making the final decisions than there is about the three prior stages of nuclear-explosive materials management.
Relation of the Materials-Security Problem and the Nuclear-Energy Problem
The issues of nuclear-materials protection and of civilian nuclear-energy generation are interconnected in a variety of ways, most obviously in that military plutonium and HEU are potential civilian nuclear fuels and plutonium and HEU from civilian nuclear-energy activities are potential bomb materials. More quantitatively and specifically:
Notwithstanding these linkages, it is not appropriate to entangle the short-term decisions needed to minimize the immediate security hazards of surplus military plutonium with longer-term decisions about the optimum technologies for meeting future nuclear energy needs. There is much uncertainty and controversy about how much energy will be required from nuclear sources in the future and about which nuclear-energy technologies will prove most attractive for meeting the nuclear-energy needs that materialize. These uncertainties and controversies may take decades to resolve. To delay decisions about the disposition of surplus military plutonium until the shape of the nuclear-energy future is clarified is to countenance unacceptable prolongation of the higher security risks of interim storage of this material (as compared with the improved protection against theft and diversion, and the positive "signal" for arms-control and nonproliferation, that would result from processing it as quickly as practicable into spent fuel or waste-bearing glass logs).
This is not to say that the future of nuclear energy should be ignored. Because it is possible that our countries and the world will need a significant long-term contribution from this energy source, prudence dictates vigorous research programs to explore a range of improved reactor and fuel-cycle options from which to select if their characteristics prove attractive in comparison to those of nonnuclear alternatives (which also need to be thoroughly explored). The United States and Russia, working
with other countries, should expand their research on long-term nuclear-energy options-- such as advanced light-water reactors, high-temperature gas reactors, and new fast-reactor types-- as part of overall energy-research portfolios that also include expanded research on nonnuclear energy options. The research on advanced nuclear energy systems should incorporate, as a specific goal, minimizing the risk of theft of nuclear materials and other proliferation hazards.
When and if new advanced-reactor systems are constructed, on their merits as energy options it may prove desirable to employ them in the disposition of any surplus military plutonium that remains at the time, or in further reducing the risks from spent fuel or other waste forms containing both civilian and previously dispositioned military plutonium. But disposition, to the spent-fuel standard, of the surplus military plutonium that exists today should proceed in the meantime, using the existing reactor technologies and immobilization technologies that can most quickly, safely, and inexpensively be adapted to this task.
A. Overall Approach
A.1 THE U.S. AND RUSSIAN GOVERNMENTS, WITH SUPPORT AND COOPERATION FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, SHOULD TAKE ADDITIONAL STEPS-- BEYOND THOSE ALREADY UNDERWAY-- TO MORE RAPIDLY REDUCE THE SECURITY RISKS POSED BY EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM. This would include acceleration of work to provide secure, monitored storage for this material, in parallel with an accelerated program to proceed with its transformation into forms no easier to use for nuclear weapons than is the plutonium in typical spent fuel from commercial reactors (the "spent-fuel standard"). Speed in proceeding with these efforts is critical both for minimizing vulnerability of the material to theft and for signalling promptly the seriousness of U.S. and Russian commitments to remove the plutonium permanently from weapons use.
A.2 TWO APPROACHES TO REDUCING THE WEAPONS-USABILITY OF THE EXCESS PLUTONIUM TO THE SPENT-FUEL STANDARD-- EMBEDDING THE PLUTONIUM IN MIXED OXIDE (MOX) FUEL FOR ONCE-THROUGH USE IN CURRENTLY OPERATING NUCLEAR POWER REACTORS, AND VITRIFYING THE PLUTONIUM TOGETHER WITH FISSION PRODUCTS IN GLASS LOGS OF THE TYPE PLANNED FOR USE IN IMMOBILIZING MILITARY HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTES-- SHOULD BOTH BE BROUGHT TO THE POINT OF OPERABILITY AT LARGE-SCALE AS RAPIDLY AS PRACTICABLE IN BOTH COUNTRIES. These
are the surest, least costly, and potentially fastest ways to achieve the spent-fuel standard for the quantities of weapons plutonium likely to be deemed excess to military needs in our two countries. Reactors suitable for using MOX fuel exist in both countries-- the VVER-1000 light-water reactors and the BN-600 fast reactor in Russia and various light-water reactor types in the United States-- of which several in each country would need to be used if the plutonium in these quantities is to be brought to the spent-fuel standard by the year 2020. Both countries also have well developed programs for immobilization of radioactive wastes in glass. The two approaches should be pursued in parallel to provide insurance against encountering unforeseen obstacles to the large-scale utilization of either one and because the vitrification process is likely to prove useful for disposal of certain plutonium forms that would be difficult to use in MOX fuel.
A.3 THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF MATERIALS PROTECTION, CONTROL, AND ACCOUNTING-- CORRESPONDING TO THOSE APPLIED TO INTACT NUCLEAR WEAPONS-- SHOULD BE APPLIED TO EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM AT ALL STORAGE, PROCESSING, AND TRANSPORT STEPS UNTIL IT REACHES THE SPENT-FUEL STANDARD. THE SAME IS TRUE OF HEU UNTIL IT HAS BEEN BLENDED DOWN TO ENRICHMENT LEVELS TOO LOW FOR USE IN NUCLEAR EXPLOSIVES. Ongoing US-Russian cooperative programs to improve MPC&A need to be expanded and accelerated in order to reach these standards in a timely way.
A.4 INCREASED TRANSPARENCY ABOUT THE INVENTORIES OF NUCLEAR WARHEADS AND NUCLEAR-EXPLOSIVE MATERIALS POSSESSED BY THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA, AND ABOUT THE STEPS BEING TAKEN TO REDUCE THESE INVENTORIES, SHOULD BE PURSUED. It would build confidence in our two countries and around the world that our ongoing arms-reduction processes are significant and unlikely to be reversed, improve the prospects for deeper cuts in our two nuclear arsenals and for participation of the other nuclear-weapon states in the arms-reduction process, and enhance our capacity to play leadership roles in global nonproliferation efforts. We assume that a regime of increased transparency about these matters would include periodic declarations of the quantities (increasing over time) of weapons and nuclear-explosive materials deemed excess to military needs, along with increasing bilateral and multilateral monitoring of warhead dismantlement and subsequent nuclear-materials management and disposition steps. Achieving these aims will require dealing creatively and constructively with the inherent tensions between the need for openness and the need to protect weapon-related secrets that could help proliferators.
A.5 THE U.S. AND RUSSIAN PROGRAMS OF WARHEAD DISMANTLEMENT AND MANAGEMENT AND DISPOSITION OF THE ASSOCIATED NUCLEAR-EXPLOSIVE MATERIALS SHOULD CONTINUE TO PROCEED IN PARALLEL, SEEKING TO
COMPLETE COMPARABLE STEPS IN THIS PROCESS ON COMPARABLE TIME SCALES, AND TO REACH EQUIVALENT REMAINING QUANTITIES OF PLUTONIUM AND HEU IN THE TWO MILITARY STOCKPILES. For reasons of symmetry and mutual confidence, it is important that neither the United States nor Russia leave its excess plutonium in storage in forms that could be readily returned to weapons while the other moves forward in transforming its excess plutonium into spent fuel or other forms equally unusable in nuclear weapons. And, ultimately, just as the START treaties called for reductions to equal levels of deployed strategic nuclear weapons, the goal of plutonium disposition should be to reduce in parallel to roughly equivalent remaining quantities of plutonium and HEU in military stockpiles.
A.6 INCREASED FUNDING SHOULD BE PROVIDED ON AN URGENT BASIS FOR ANALYSIS, DEVELOPMENT, TESTING, AND DEPLOYMENT OF THE SYSTEMS FOR MANAGEMENT AND DISPOSITION OF WEAPONS PLUTONIUM AND HEU AS DESCRIBED HERE. Provision of such funding should be considered a highly cost-effective investment in national and international security. The problem of funding is particularly acute in Russia, where badly needed activities are being delayed by lack of money. We believe that the weight of the combined leadership of the two Presidents in calling attention to the need and the opportunity to address this problem as a matter of national priorities can be decisive in generating the needed funding.
B. Storage, Protection, Control, and Accounting
B.1 THE U.S. AND RUSSIAN GOVERNMENTS SHOULD CONTINUE TO COOPERATE IN PROVIDING SECURE STORAGE FOR FISSILE MATERIALS REMOVED FROM NUCLEAR WEAPONS, AND IN IMPROVING SECURITY AND ACCOUNTING FOR ALL SEPARATED PLUTONIUM AND HEU. We recommend that sufficient funding should be provided to complete construction of the modern safe and secure storage facility at Mayak, with the goal of opening the facility in 1998 or 1999. In addition, we recommend expanding and accelerating the successful cooperation underway to modernize Russia's systems for security and accounting for plutonium and HEU. (We think the resources committed to this cooperative work should be increased by at least 50 percent above the 1996 levels.) In keeping with the program announced at the Moscow Nuclear Safety and Security Summit in April of 1996, moreover, we urge that cooperation be substantially expanded in the area of prevention of smuggling of nuclear materials, including joint work to ensure that relevant police, intelligence, customs, and border patrol forces are appropriately trained and equipped, and working together effectively.
B.2 THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA SHOULD MOVE QUICKLY TO IMPLEMENT AND EXPAND ON THE RECIPROCAL INFORMATION EXCHANGES AND MUTUAL INSPECTIONS RELATED TO NUCLEAR STOCKPILES THAT HAVE BEEN
AGREED TO IN PRINCIPLE, TO HELP ENSURE THE TRANSPARENCY AND IRREVERSIBILITY OF NUCLEAR ARMS REDUCTIONS. We believe that the United States and Russia should work more expeditiously to implement the exchange of data on stockpiles of nuclear warheads and fissile materials agreed to by President Clinton and President Yeltsin in September 1994 during the first quarter of 1997, as well as to implement the broader transparency agenda agreed to by the two Presidents at their summit in May 1995. In this connection, discussions should be resumed toward early completion of an Agreement for Cooperation to provide the legal basis in both countries for exchange of those types of secret information needed to permit the bilateral measures agreed to. (In order to assuage concerns, an initial agreement on classified information might be limited to those specific types of information needed for monitoring plutonium and HEU from dismantled weapons.) The two sides should also accelerate their joint efforts to develop measures to verify the dismantlement of nuclear weapons-- and to confirm the inventories inventories of plutonium and HEU removed from them-- without compromising sensitive information or imposing undue intrusiveness or costs, with the goal of conducting initial demonstration experiments by mid-1997 and having a full bilateral regime in place during 1998.
B.3 AS THE P-8 LEADERS AGREED AT THE MOSCOW NUCLEAR SAFETY AND SECURITY SUMMIT IN APRIL OF 1996, EXCESS PLUTONIUM AND HEU SHOULD BE PLACED UNDER INTERNATIONAL SAFEGUARDS AS QUICKLY AS PRACTICABLE. For material now in unclassified forms, this process should be able to move forward rapidly in both countries. For plutonium and HEU in classified forms (such as components from dismantled warheads) the United States and Russia should work together with the IAEA to develop modified safeguards approaches that would permit credible international monitoring of these materials without revealing information that could contribute to proliferation. In particular, the Commission believes that declassification of the average amount of plutonium in a weapon component or "pit", and of the key features of the radiation signature from such components, would pose little or no threat to security while allowing the development of a credible safeguards regime in which the IAEA could certify to the world that specified quantities of excess plutonium were under its monitoring and were being used only for peaceful purposes. The two countries should seek to develop a credible monitoring appraoch for classified materials, acceptable to both of them and to the IAEA, by the end of 1997 and begin implementing it in 1998.
B.4 RUSSIA, LIKE THE UNITED STATES, SHOULD BEGIN DECLARING SPECIFIC QUANTITIES OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL TO BE EXCESS TO ITS MILITARY NEEDS. We hope that declarations of further material as excess will occur regularly in the future on both sides.
B.5 BOTH COUNTRIES SHOULD SEEK TO MAKE ADDITIONAL TENS OF TONS OF MATERIAL ELIGIBLE FOR INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA) SAFEGUARDS DURING 1997. We also believe that the United States and Russia should pursue new safeguards agreements with the IAEA that, compared to the current voluntary offer agreements, would make removal of the materials from safeguards more difficult. This and other steps recommended here toward increased international transparency would help assure the world community that the materials removed from excess nuclear weapons are not being re-used for military purposes and that any reversal of this arms-reduction process would be rapidly detected.
C. Disposition of Excess Plutonium
C.1 THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA SHOULD MOVE PROMPTLY TO SELECT, AUTHORIZE, FUND, AND BRING TO THE POINT OF OPERABILITY AT THE NECESSARY SCALE THE SPECIFIC VARIANTS OF BOTH THE MOX/CURRENT-REACTOR APPROACH AND THE VITRIFICATION-WITH-WASTES APPROACH THAT WILL BE USED FOR DISPOSITION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM TO THE SPENT-FUEL STANDARD IN EACH COUNTRY. This will entail: (a) pushing to completion, by mid-1997, the ongoing processes for selecting, in each country, the least-delay, least-cost variants of the two approaches, consistent with effective nonproliferation controls and protection of environment, safety, and health; (b) cooperation of the executive and legislative branches of government in both countries to designate plutonium disposition to the spent-fuel standard as a top national-security priority, and to enact legislation authorizing and providing funding for the necessary activities; and (c) establishing, within the independent nuclear-regulatory agencies in both countries, well funded divisions dedicated to the task of providing timely review and licensing of the needed facilities and operations to make and use MOX fuel and to vitrify plutonium with wastes. Of course, each country will decide for itself how its excess plutonium will finally be divided between the two disposition methods, based on the circumstances in that country. But there is good reason for both methods to be available to both countries: moving forward with the two approaches in parallel will offer greater confidence in the overall program, as each approach could provide a backup in the event of unexpected problems with the other; and the United States and Russia each have excess plutonium in some forms well suited to use as reactor fuel and in other forms better suited for vitrification.
C.2 THE TWO GOVERNMENTS SHOULD ESTABLISH APPROPRIATE MANAGERIAL STRUCTURES-- ONE IN EACH COUNTRY, AS WELL AS AN INTERNATIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR MANAGING JOINT ACTIVITIES -- TO BE RESPONSIBLE TO THE PRESIDENTS FOR CARRYING OUT THIS WORK TO SPECIFIED ENDPOINTS ON A SPECIFIED TIMETABLE. To leave this
program at the mercy of the distractions and competing priorities within existing bureaucratic structures is to ensure that too little will be accomplished, too slowly.
C.3 THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA SHOULD EXPEDITE AND EXPAND THEIR TECHNICAL COOPERATION FOCUSED ON DEVELOPING, TESTING, AND DEMONSTRATING RAPIDLY IMPLEMENTABLE AND COST-EFFECTIVE MEANS FOR CONVERTING PITS TO OXIDE SUITABLE FOR MOX-FUEL FABRICATION, AND FOR PROCESSING OTHER PLUTONIUM FORMS TO PREPARE THEM FOR DISPOSITION. Neither the United States nor Russia has an industrial-scale facility for conversion of plutonium metal "pits" to other forms. This is an essential step for all the plutonium disposition options under consideration, and will also make it possible to place this material under the same type of IAEA safeguards as are applied in non-nuclear-weapons states. The two countries have a strong common interest in determining, and then deploying, the least-cost, least-delay technology for implementing this mission while ensuring nonproliferation and protection for the environment, safety, and health. Both countries have extensive relevant experience, and have recently begun exploring areas for potential cooperation in this high-priority task. This cooperation should be expedited, with the goal of rapidly carrying out prototype-scale demonstrations in both countries sufficient to provide the information needed for licensing and construction of full-scale capacity. Technologies for ensuring effective material control and accounting throughout this process are a particularly high priority for cooperation in this area.
C.4 THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA, ALONG WITH OTHER COUNTRIES WITH RELEVANT EXPERIENCE, SHOULD EXPAND THEIR TECHNICAL COOPERATION RELATED TO ANALYZING, TESTING, LICENSING, AND DEMONSTRATING THE FABRICATION OF MOX FUEL MADE FROM WEAPONS PLUTONIUM AND THE USE OF THIS FUEL IN CURRENTLY OPERATING REACTORS. MOX fuels have been fabricated and used at industrial scale in a number of European countries, but there has been no substantial experience anywhere with the fabrication and use of MOX made from weapons plutonium. Preparation for doing this will involve close collaboration among the fuel fabricators, the operators of the reactors and their safety specialists, and the regulators concerning the properties of the weapons-plutonium/MOX fuel and its behavior in the reactors. Issues that must be addressed include the effects of this fuel type on core physics and thermal hydraulics-- and the behavior of the fuel itself in terms of, e.g., fission-product retention and fuel-cladding interaction-- under normal and accident conditions, in a all of the reactor types being considered for use in the disposition mission (i.e., VVER-1000 light-water reactors and the BN-600 fast reactor in Russia, various light-water reactor types in the United States). The results will determine, for each reactor type, the feasible combinations
of weapons-plutonium percentage in MOX, fraction of MOX in the reactor core, and modifications to reactor hardware and software needed to maintain acceptable safety characteristics; and this will determine, in turn, how many reactors of what types can process how much weapons plutonium how quickly. The substantial analytical and experimental effort involved can and should be greatly facilitated-- and accelerated-- by international cooperation that includes sharing and comparison of computer codes, shared access to experimental facilities and to the results of tests in these, and so on.
C.5 THE UNITED STATES, RUSSIA, AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SHOULD BEGIN NOW TO ADDRESS THE LARGEST OBSTACLE TO PROGRESS ON PLUTONIUM DISPOSITION BEYOND INTERIM STORAGE, WHICH IS FINANCING AND CONSTRUCTING ADEQUATE CAPACITY IN THE TWO COUNTRIES FOR PROCESSING PLUTONIUM PITS INTO PLUTONIUM OXIDE AND FOR FABRI-CATING PLUTONIUM AND URANIUM OXIDES INTO MOX FUEL. Russia and the United States not only lack industrial-scale capacity for conversion of pits to oxide, as noted above; they also lack industrial-scale capacity for fabricating the plutonium oxide and uranium oxide into MOX fuel. Large investments will be needed to provide these facilities-- in the range of 1 billion dollars-- which Russia in particular will not be able to finance on its own. A plan should be developed and implemented for international cooperation in financing the needed facilities in Russia. (One option that should be explored is financing these facilities by borrowing against the revenues from future sales, in the world market, of blended-down Russian HEU beyond the 500 tons already agreed in the US-Russian "uranium deal"; this approach would require the Western countries to open their markets to the additional fuel from which the revenues would serve this purpose.) As soon as financing has been obtained, bids should be solicited for the construction of the needed MOX capacity in both countries.
C.6 IN ORDER TO FACILITATE INITIATION OF PLUTONIUM DISPOSITION IN MOX FUEL BEFORE NEW MOX PLANTS ARE READY IN THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA, CONTRACTS SHOULD BE SOUGHT WITH EXISTING EUROPEAN MOX FABRICATION PLANTS TO PRODUCE INITIAL BATCHES OF WEAPONS-PLUTONIUM MOX FOR U.S. AND RUSSIAN REACTORS. This will require taking steps to ensure that the weapons plutonium is as well protected, controlled, and accounted for in the country or countries doing this fabrication, and in transport, as it would be under the criteria described here for MPC&A in the United States and Russia.
C.7 BECAUSE OF THE URGENCY OF PROCEEDING WITH DISPOSITION TO THE SPENT-FUEL STANDARD, BOTH THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA SHOULD BEGIN THEIR PROGRAMS FOR THIS PURPOSE USING CURRENTLY OPERATING REACTORS. As already noted, both the United States and Russia have significant numbers of current-generation
reactors in operation which could potentially use excess weapons plutonium as MOX fuel. Implementation of the MOX-reactor option for plutonium disposition can and should begin by using some of these existing reactors. (Waiting for new reactors to be built before beginning this mission would be a recipe for intolerable delay.) We recommend, in fact, that steps be taken now to select-- and to formalize arrangements with-- the specific nuclear power stations in both countries where plutonium disposition using MOX fuel would begin.
C.8 WORK SHOULD BE CONTINUED TO PREPARE FOR THE POSSIBILITY OF WEAPON-PLUTONIUM/MOX USE BEYOND THE U.S. AND RUSSIAN REACTORS NOW PLANNED FOR THE FIRST PHASE OF THE REACTOR-DISPOSITION APPROACH AND/OR BEYOND THE PARTIAL MOX CORE LOADINGS LIKELY TO BE USED INITIALLY IN THESE REACTORS. We believe that partial-MOX cores in a number of U.S. light-water reactors, Russian VVER-1000 light-water reactors, and the Russian BN-600 fast reactor will prove to be the fastest route to startup of reactor-MOX disposition of weapons plutonium at significant scale, and that, depending on the number of reactors in each country actually prepared and licensed for this mission, this route may also suffice (given adequate MOX-fuel fabrication capacity) to process all of the weapons plutonium declared excess in the two countries within about two decades of beginning to load weapons-MOX into the reactors. As a backup in case unforeseen obstacles reduce the number of reactors in these categories that can be used-- or in case additional weapons plutonium is declared excess or, for other reasons, there is need to speed up the rate at which plutonium is loaded into reactors-- it would be desirable to be able to use additional reactors and/or higher core loadings of MOX for this purpose. A set of reactors that could be considered as a backup or augmentation of the Russian reactor-MOX disposition program are the VVER-1000 light-water reactors in Ukraine. Studies and discussions should continue concerning the weapons-MOX transport arrangements, safeguards, licensing issues, and financial terms that would need to be settled if using some of these Ukrainian VVER-1000s for Russian weapons-MOX disposition proved desirable. As a backup or augmention of the U.S. reactor-MOX disposition program, and perhaps for Russian weapons plutonium as well, it is reasonable to consider the Canadian heavy-water-moderated, channel-type (CANDU) reactors. This option is under study in cooperative efforts involving Canada, Russia, and the United States; there are complications that would need to addressed in order to implement this option, but we believe the studies should be continued as insurance against shortfalls in plutonium-disposition capacity elsewhere. Finally, disposition capacity could be increased in any given number of reactors if the plutonium percentage in MOX fuel elements and/or the fraction of the cores devoted to MOX fuel were increased; the programs recommended above for analysis, testing, licensing, and
demonstration of weapons-MOX/fuel fabrication and use in currently operating reactors should be extended to determine the feasibility of such increases in plutonium loadings.
C.9 THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA, ALONG WITH OTHER COUNTRIES WITH RELEVANT EXPERIENCE, SHOULD EXPAND THEIR TECHNICAL COOPERATION RELATED TO ANALYZING, TESTING, LICENSING, AND DEMONSTRATING VITRIFICATION OF PLUTONIUM WITH HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTES. The high desirability of proceeding with both the vitrification and the reactor-MOX approaches to plutonium disposition in both countries was emphasized above. The United States, Russia, and several other countries have industrial-scale experience with vitrification of nuclear wastes, but there is as yet no large-scale experience with incorporating large quantities of plutonium in such vitrified wastes. Elements of an expanded and accelerated cooperative effort to analyze and demonstrate relevant technologies should include efforts to determine and certify a combination of glass composition, plutonium loading, and melter design adequate for the purpose (including considerations of avoiding accidental criticality in the melter or, subsequently, in a repository). At least one variant of this approach should be demonstrated at pilot-plant scale in each country as a step toward full-scale operation. In parallel with this analytical, experimental, and licensing effort, the U.S.-Russian cooperative project, just beginning, for clarifying the quantities and characteristics of those plutonium forms in each country that would be more suitable for vitrification than for MOX-fuel production should be expanded and completed.
C.10 THE NUCLEAR-REGULATORY AGENCIES IN BOTH COUNTRIES SHOULD BE DIRECTED-- AND FUNDED-- TO DEVELOP THE PROCEDURES TO REVIEW AND LICENSE PROMPTLY THE MOX-FUEL FABRICATION PLANTS, REACTORS USING MOX FUELS, AND PLUTONIUM-WITH-WASTE VITRIFICATION PLANTS NEEDED TO IMPLEMENT WEAPONS-PLUTONIUM DISPOSITION. Licensing requirements of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Gosatomnadzor in Russia have the potential to impose substantial delay in the disposition programs. The regulatory agencies will require safety analyses, detailed designs, and experimental data. Early and continuous interaction among regulators, other government agencies, research institutions, and operators of plutonium-disposition facilities will be necessary for the disposition programs to move forward without delay. The regulatory authorities must be adequately funded for these reviews and should be directed to give them high priority.
C.11 THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA SHOULD MOVE AS QUICKLY AS PRACTICABLE TO END ADDITIONAL PRODUCTION OF WEAPONS PLUTONIUM, INCLUDING PROVIDING THE NECESSARY FINANCING TO COMPLETE THEIR COOPERATIVE PROJECT TO CONVERT THE CORES OF THE PLUTONIUM PRODUCTION REACTORS AT SEVERSK (TOMSK-7) AND ZELEZNOGORSK
(KRASNOYARSK-26). Inasmuch as the purpose of plutonium disposition is to reduce the stockpiles of weapons plutonium stored in forms readily accessible for use in nuclear weapons, ending the addition of new weapons plutonium to these stockpiles should also have very high priority. The United States and Russia have agreed that no newly produced plutonium or HEU will ever again be used in weapons, and have committed themselves, along with their P-8 partners, to "the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory and
universally applicable convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices." Weapons-grade plutonium continues to be produced, however, at the three remaining plutonium production reactors in Russia. These reactors continue to operate because they provide needed heat and power for nearby communities, and their spent fuel continues to be reprocessed to separate the plutonium because the spent fuel is not suitable for long-term storage. The United States and Russia are cooperating to design, license, and implement converted cores for these reactors, so that they would no longer produce weapons-grade plutonium. The United States and Russia should act to provide sufficient financing to complete the engineering design of the converted cores during 1997 and implement the conversion of these reactors by 1999. We welcome the decision of the U.S. Congress action to provide necessary funding for this work in fiscal 1997. Additional funding will be required in subsequent years. The existing technical teams implementing this work have been highly successful, and this existing framework for cooperation should be maintained.
C.12 THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA SHOULD BEGIN DISCUSSIONS WITH THE GOAL OF REACHING A FORMAL AGREEMENT GOVERNING PLUTONIUM DISPOSITION. A formal agreement setting out the quantities, schedules, and approaches involved in plutonium disposition could do a great deal to ensure that the United States and Russia proceed in parallel, that appropriate nonproliferation controls are maintained, and that sufficient priority is assigned to the plutonium-disposition mission. Such an agreement, particularly if combined with timely action to place the excess material under international safeguards, could do a great deal to increase the credibility of U.S. and Russian plans to irreversibly reduce their stocks of excess material in forms readily usable in weapons; this credibility benefit could be particularly important over the period of roughly a decade before industrial-scale disposition operations can probably begin. In addition, such an agreement may help ensure funding stability: legislatures in both countries are more likely to provide necessary funding if that funding is needed to fulfill an international commitment.
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Members of the U.S.-Russian Independent Scientific Commission on Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium Evgeniy P. Velikhov, Co-Chair John P. Holdren, Co-Chair Aleksei A. Makarov John Ahearne Fedor M. Mitenkov Richard L. Garwin Nikolai N. Ponomarev-Stepnoi Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky Fedor G. Reshetnikov John J. Taylor Executive Secretaries Dmitri F. Tsourikov Matthew G. Bunn
________________ (1) This "spent-fuel standard" has now been accepted as a reasonable yardstick in a wide variety of other studies of plutonium disposition, in the United States and elsewhere. It refers to the combination of barriers, against re-use of the contained plutonium, that characterizes typical spent fuel from currently operating commercial reactors-- the mass and bulk of the fuel elements, their radiation field, the low concentration of the contained plutonium and the difficulty of separating it chemically from the materials with which it is intermixed, and the deviation of the plutonium's isotopic composition from the ideal for weapons use. Achieving the spent-fuel standard means that the material's characteristics pose difficulties for theft and weapons use of the plutonium that are comparable to those associated with typical spent fuel-- which itself varies with reactor type and the specific fuel's history inside and outside the reactor-- not that the material needs to be identical, in each category of barrier, to a particular type of spent fuel.