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Japans plutonium glut: Plan to make more raises red flag as country reassesses nuclear future
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Washington Post

Washington Post, June 1, 2012
Posted: June 12th, 2012

Last years tsunami disaster in Japan clouded the nations nuclear future, idled its reactors and rendered its huge stockpile of plutonium useless for now. So, the industrys plan to produce even more has raised a red flag. Nuclear industry officials say they hope to start producing a half-ton of plutonium within months, in addition to the more than 35 tons Japan already has stored around the world. Thats even though all the reactors that might use it are either inoperable or offline while the country rethinks its nuclear policy after the tsunami-generated Fukushima crisis. Its crazy, said Princeton University professor Frank von Hippel, a leading authority on nonproliferation issues and a former assistant director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology. There is absolutely no reason to do that. Japans nuclear industry produces plutonium which is strictly regulated globally because it also is used for nuclear weapons by reprocessing spent, uranium-based fuel in a procedure aimed at decreasing radioactive waste that otherwise would require long-term storage. Fuel reprocessing remains unreliable and it is questionable whether it is a viable way of reducing Japans massive amounts of spent fuel rods, said Takeo Kikkawa, a Hitotsubashi University professor specializing in energy issues. Japan should abandon the program altogether, said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of a respected anti-nuclear Citizens Nuclear Information Center. Then we can also contribute to the global effort for nuclear non-proliferation.

Note: For a state-of-the-art analysis revealing that radioactive fallout from the Fukushima meltdown is at least as big as Chernobyl and more global in reach, click here.

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