TABLE 3-1 Threats Associated with Surplus Weapons Plutonium

Types of Threats


Diversion of the WPu by the original possessor nation for reincorporation into nuclear weapons ("breakout"), which may be



overt, or





Theft of the WPu by or for other countries or subnational groups, with or without the complicity of insiders in the custodial organization, by means that are



forcible, or



overt but not forcible (as could occur under loss of national authority), or





Harmful influences of the management of WPu on



the strength and stability of institutions for nuclear weapons management and monitoring in the United States and the former Soviet Union;



incentives and disincentives for further nuclear arms reductions in the United States, the former Soviet Union, and other nuclear-weapon states;



incentives and disincentives for acquisition of nuclear weapons by other countries; and



management of reactor plutonium in ways that increase its accessibility to prospective bomb-makers.

Time Frames in Which the Threats May be Operative


the near term, roughly the next 10 years, within which the quantities of WPu accumulated from dismantlement activities are increasing and most disposition options would be in their developmental or initial operational stages;


the middle term, roughly from 10-50 years hence, within which most disposition options would be in full operation and at the end of which the bulk of the surplus WPu would have been processed; and


the long term, beyond 50 years hence, wherein the surplus WPu would be in whatever final form and location had resulted from the disposition option selected.

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