far as the committee was able to determine, these assessments do not use probabilistic risk assessment5 in their analysis. For a relatively small subset of questions concerning the relative proliferation resistance of a particular nuclear fuel cycle against existing fuel cycles (usually once-through cycles), technical assessments have been made using a “predefined framework” methodology. Such methodologies provide a structured approach for comparing the technical barriers to the proliferation of different generalized nuclear fuel cycles (see Chapter 3).

To illustrate the role of technical assessments in nonproliferation policy decisions related to the nuclear fuel cycle, we identify questions in three interrelated categories and discuss how technical assessments contribute to answering them. These categories are

• peaceful international nuclear cooperation agreements,

• export control, and

• nuclear fuel cycle R&D and nuclear safeguards.


Peaceful International nuclear cooperation takes many forms, ranging from cooperation on nuclear safety to fuel cycle R&D. Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act6 stipulates that a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement must satisfy specific nonproliferation requirements (see Box 2.1). Decisions to enter into Nuclear Cooperation Agreements (often referred to as 123 Agreements) require extensive interagency evaluations and must ultimately be approved by Congress. A Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement (NPAS) is prepared as part of this process, which includes

• background of the nonproliferation policies of the country in question;

• anticipated general areas of potential cooperation;

• summary of anticipated issues requiring U.S. advanced consent before the partner country can carry out certain activities using U.S.-supplied nuclear material, equipment, technology, or facilities;

• review of how the agreement will meet the nine criteria established by Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act (see Box 2.1); and

• assessment of how the agreement is in the interests of the United States.

The NPAS is not a technical document and generally does not provide details of specific topics for cooperation. It is anticipated that these specific topics would be negotiated at a future time and be subject to additional approval processes, including export control. There is often a classified annex to the NPAS, which can provide greater technical details about potential issues.


5 See Appendix E: Glossary for a short definition of and reference for probabilistic risk assessment.

6 Atomic Energy Act of 1954 as amended, Public Law 83-703, Section 123.

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