Chapter 2:

Assistance, Infrastructure, and Policies

2.1. WESTERN ASSISTANCE TO RUSSIAN DISARMAMENT

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, several Western countries have made major contributions to assist the countries of the former Soviet Union with disarmament, defense conversion, housing for returning troops, and similar activities. Here we summarize only those activities that have some bearing on the WPu management problem.

2.1.1. U.S. Assistance

In December 1991, the U.S. Congress passed the Soviet Threat Reduction Act, commonly known as the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR). From Fiscal Year (FY) 1992–95 the CTR program received a total of $1.6 billion, which was diverted from existing Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations to assist Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. The goal of the CTR program is to facilitate the safe destruction or secure storage of Soviet weapons of mass destruction. Projects eligible for funding include safety and security of transport of weapons, material controls, storage facility equipment, nuclear waste handling, Arctic nuclear waste, strategic arms elimination, export controls, and conversion. To date, the United States has signed agreements with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan on assistance programs and funds related to dismantlement of weapons of mass destruction, offensive arms dismantlement, tools, rail-car conversion, special trucks, super-containers for weapons, protective blankets, emergency response equipment and training, containers for fissile materials, storage facilities, hydrogenous components storage facilities, conversion of fissile material, radiation monitoring and protection, chemical weapons destruction, and materials control and accounting.

The implementation of CTR program activities started slowly but the pace picked up sharply after the spring of 1994, with agreements covering about $900 million reached as of February 1995. Assistance for construction of the fissile material storage facility for Russia has been slow, partially due to lack of Russian progress on site preparation and to disagreements on various topics, including the safeguarding measures deemed necessary by the United States.

One of the creations of the CTR program is the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC). The ISTC is a multilateral nonproliferation program that provides peaceful employment opportunities to scientists and engineers in the former Soviet Union who were previously involved in work on weapons of mass destruction and missile technology. The Center, which began operating in March 1994, was founded by the European Union, the United States, Japan, and Russia. The United States and the European Union each contribute about $25 million per year to support the center and Japan is providing an additional $17 million. As of March 1995, 130 project proposals had been approved, representing a total funding commitment of $60 million. These projects will sponsor more than 8,200 scientists from Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Belarus; there is a separate ISTC for Ukraine that provides additional assistance to that country. In



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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM Chapter 2: Assistance, Infrastructure, and Policies 2.1. WESTERN ASSISTANCE TO RUSSIAN DISARMAMENT Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, several Western countries have made major contributions to assist the countries of the former Soviet Union with disarmament, defense conversion, housing for returning troops, and similar activities. Here we summarize only those activities that have some bearing on the WPu management problem. 2.1.1. U.S. Assistance In December 1991, the U.S. Congress passed the Soviet Threat Reduction Act, commonly known as the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR). From Fiscal Year (FY) 1992–95 the CTR program received a total of $1.6 billion, which was diverted from existing Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations to assist Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. The goal of the CTR program is to facilitate the safe destruction or secure storage of Soviet weapons of mass destruction. Projects eligible for funding include safety and security of transport of weapons, material controls, storage facility equipment, nuclear waste handling, Arctic nuclear waste, strategic arms elimination, export controls, and conversion. To date, the United States has signed agreements with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan on assistance programs and funds related to dismantlement of weapons of mass destruction, offensive arms dismantlement, tools, rail-car conversion, special trucks, super-containers for weapons, protective blankets, emergency response equipment and training, containers for fissile materials, storage facilities, hydrogenous components storage facilities, conversion of fissile material, radiation monitoring and protection, chemical weapons destruction, and materials control and accounting. The implementation of CTR program activities started slowly but the pace picked up sharply after the spring of 1994, with agreements covering about $900 million reached as of February 1995. Assistance for construction of the fissile material storage facility for Russia has been slow, partially due to lack of Russian progress on site preparation and to disagreements on various topics, including the safeguarding measures deemed necessary by the United States. One of the creations of the CTR program is the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC). The ISTC is a multilateral nonproliferation program that provides peaceful employment opportunities to scientists and engineers in the former Soviet Union who were previously involved in work on weapons of mass destruction and missile technology. The Center, which began operating in March 1994, was founded by the European Union, the United States, Japan, and Russia. The United States and the European Union each contribute about $25 million per year to support the center and Japan is providing an additional $17 million. As of March 1995, 130 project proposals had been approved, representing a total funding commitment of $60 million. These projects will sponsor more than 8,200 scientists from Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Belarus; there is a separate ISTC for Ukraine that provides additional assistance to that country. In

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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM the United States, management of the ISTC has now been transferred from the Department of Defense to the Department of State. The Clinton administration has developed a set of additional initiatives to help reduce the exposure of Russian fissile materials to diversion. Because of Russian concerns about intrusiveness, the Clinton administration decided to offer reciprocal measures applying to U.S. facilities. Under this new policy a government-to-government program has begun with an exchange of visits to inspect the physical-security arrangements at major plutonium-storage facilities in each country. In January 1995, DOE shipped demonstration equipment to the Mayak plutonium-storage facility to strengthen protection against threats of insider diversion. As a result, MINATOM agreed to extend the government-to-government program into a number of other facilities handling large quantities of weapons-usable plutonium and HEU. Currently, cooperative work is excluded only at locations holding fissile materials in classified shapes. The funding for these government-to-government activities is $30 million for FY 1995; $30 million has been requested for FY 1996. In the spring of 1994, DOE authorized materials security experts at its national laboratories to approach their Russian counterparts to propose joint work on materials security, including the purchase of Russian services and equipment. This so-called “lab-to-lab” program received a very positive response from the Russian side. The Russians responded with a substantial proposal to begin with the installation of modern materials security systems in some of the major Russian nuclear materials processing and weapons dismantlement facilities. Work is designed to fix security problems where they appear most severe; some installations at the Kurchatov Institute are complete. So far, these activities take place only on a bilateral basis. The U.S. goal is to involve the IAEA at a later stage, but the Russians seem to resist all proposals that involve the IAEA at this time. The funding responsibility for the lab-to-lab program now resides with the Department of Energy. The funding for lab-to-lab activities is $15 million for FY 1995, and $40 million has been requested for FY 1996. The congressional elections of 1994, which gave the Republican Party control of both houses, have thrown the future of the CTR and other assistance programs into doubt. The CTR appears to be vulnerable, since it covers a wide range of Russian military conversion programs. Some members of Congress are opposed to both specific provisions such as housing assistance for returning Russian soldiers, while others include CTR in a general distaste for foreign assistance. More broadly, assistance is becoming increasingly linked to debates about the future of U.S.-Russian relations and to charges about Russian noncompliance with its arms control commitments, such as the Biological Weapons Convention. The Clinton administration—and some important Republican and Democratic members of Congress—remain strongly committed to the CTR and other assistance programs for Russia, but their fate is hard to predict at this time. 2.1.2. European and Other Western Assistance The Commission of the European Union (EU) also has ongoing activities to assist the former Soviet Union. The major actors are Euratom and its Joint Research Center (JRC). In the safeguards field the general objectives are to contribute to the improvement of the accounting and control systems in the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European states so that they comply with the safeguards requirements of the IAEA.

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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM In autumn 1992, a dialogue started with representatives from the new states of the former Soviet Union. As a first step, the Euratom Safeguards Directorate undertook a conceptual study. Several seminars have taken place since spring 1993, with participants from GOSATOMNADZOR, MINATOM, the Kurchatov Institute and plant operators, the EU Commission services, and the EU nuclear industry. They reached agreement on the details of a Joint Coordination Group, further seminars, information exchanges, the design, testing and implementation of a nuclear material accounting and control system at state level in Russia, and regular stays of Russian trainees at Euratom in Luxembourg and the institutes run by the JRC. They also agreed on technical support for MPC&A on a demonstration basis for operators and inspectors of items such as computers, software, measurement and control instrumentation, and surveillance equipment, and a detailed medium-term program for further cooperation between 1994 and 1996. Russian experts will visit several fuel cycle facilities under Euratom safeguards. With the help of the JRC, the establishment of a Russian training center near Moscow for materials accounting and safeguards started in February 1994. Each part of the fuel cycle must be represented by reference facilities, and the use of such Russian reference facilities for the training is near final approval. The center uses Russian industry to provide as much material as possible. MINATOM and GOSATOMNADZOR are both very interested because the cooperation as now planned meets their interests and is not intrusive. The JRC is talking with DOE in order to avoid duplication of aid efforts, and an agreement with DOE on safeguards research has been concluded. The collaboration was funded at 1 MECU (million ECU) in 1994; 1.8 MECUs are allocated for 1995. In addition to joint EU efforts, countries are contributing individually. German efforts started in January 1992 with the “Genscher-Initiative, ” which linked the elimination of ground-launched short-range nuclear ballistic missiles and nuclear artillery shells in the former Soviet Union and the United States, with an offer to give Western assistance to be coordinated by a high level working group in NATO. This was established as the “Group on Nuclear Weapons,” with Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Great Britain as members. In Germany, assistance for nuclear disarmament enjoys unanimous support by the Bundestag.1 It is a priority issue for the federal government; for example, Foreign Minister Kinkel issued a 10-point nuclear nonproliferation initiative on December 15, 1993. The Bundestag made available DM 10 million in 1993, DM 9 million in 1994, and DM 13 million is planned for 1995. A framework agreement was concluded with Russia at the end of 1992, and a project agreement for the delivery of special equipment to secure the dismantlement of nuclear weapons has been reached. As already mentioned, the AA has funded a joint Russian-German study on future collaboration on civilian MOX technology that could eliminate Russian WPu [Cf. section 1.2.2]. Since so far no agreement binds Russia to eliminate its weapons material, the German interest in disarmament assistance will intensify in the future. The German government would welcome enhanced transparency in the disarmament process and hopes that the bilateral process will soon be opened to the international community. 1   All parties resolution of June 16, 1993, and resolution on nuclear non-proliferation of February 16, 1995.

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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM 2.1.3. Assessment of Activities As assessment of the effectiveness of Western assistance to Russian disarmament is difficult at this time since the activities are largely in their infancy and are rapidly expanding. The U.S. program is by far the largest. Its biggest component is the Nunn-Lugar program managed by the Department of Defense. Thus far the program has had some significant successes: in particular, U.S. assistance played a critical role in implementing the Lisbon Protocol to secure the non-nuclear status of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, and the return of the nuclear warheads on their territory to Russia. But the program has also suffered delays and has had limited impact as yet on important problems related to the security of Russian nuclear warheads and materials. Moreover, the program has encountered opposition from Russian hard-liners who object to U.S. efforts to link assistance with unilateral access to hitherto secret Russian facilities and technologies. All the Russian entities concerned with the assistance program have requested reciprocity in the transparency of the facilities and operations involved, and in any safeguarding measures. The United States has largely been receptive to demands for reciprocity, although the risk of diversion of plutonium from U.S. facilities is considerably less than that inherent in the current Russian situation. The United States has taken the lead in transparency by declaring its plutonium inventories and requesting Russia to do the same. Progress in transparency thus far has been only on a bilateral basis. More comprehensive measures, such as the fissile material production cut-off agreement, the proposal for an International Plutonium Management regime, and the Nuclear Weapons Register proposed by German Foreign Minister Kinkel, would be useful. While the high-level government-to-government efforts between the United States and Russia are still suffering from “birth pains,” greater actual impact has been achieved through the laboratory-to-laboratory programs where scientists are interacting directly. The European activities have exhibited a similar pattern. Progress has been expedited by pursuing the program in the name of German-Russian cooperation rather than assistance. For instance, the EU Commission has focused on jointly assessing the Russian perspective of their needs and making use of available Russian technologies in addressing those needs. The Russian-German feasibility study, for example, was a cooperative project from the beginning. Neither the U.S. nor the European efforts have as yet included verification of the actual dismantlement of nuclear warheads and the disposal of nuclear warhead components. Thus far only the United States has provided assistance for the intermediate storage facility, or facilities, planned for fissionable materials and components in Russia. Since no decisions on disposition options have been made so far, since commencement of disposition of excess weapons plutonium is not expected during this decade, and since the actual disposition campaign is apt to extend over several decades, the secure management of intermediate storage is of paramount importance. Following the recommendations of the NAS study, the duration of intermediate storage prior to disposition should be as short as possible. No discussions for an international role in managing the intermediate storage facility have yet been initiated. Such an international role would greatly strengthen the security of the excess WPu and would make it much less likely that it could be reintroduced into weapons by Russia, as well as demonstrating progress toward the Non-Proliferation Treaty goal of nuclear disarmament.

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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM To summarize, the assistance activities by Western nations to Russian disarmament have just begun to have an impact on the dangers inherent in the large scale potential availability of WPu in Russia. Much more remains to be done both through Russian efforts and Western assistance to enhance the security of these materials and to accelerate the pace of all disarmament phases, including achieving transparency through declarations, verification, and the openness of dismantlement, intermediate storage, and disposition to meet the “spent fuel standard. ” 2.2. RUSSIAN NUCLEAR INFRASTRUCTURE AND POLICY 2.2.1. Experience with MOX Use and Fabrication Russia currently possesses almost 30 tons of separated civilian plutonium waiting to be fabricated into fuel. Russia has not made any formal declaration of surplus WPu, but it is conventionally assumed that 100 tons will be available within a decade. Russia has fabricated MOX fuel for its fast breeder reactors in several laboratory and pilot-scale facilities at the production complex Mayak of the Chelyabinsk-40 nuclear center. The fuel has a content of about 25-percent plutonium. The construction of a commercial-size facility (“Tsekh-300”) that would produce fast reactor fuel was started in 1984 at Chelyabinsk-40, but no progress is being made towards its completion because of lack of funds. As mentioned above, the German-Russian expert group recommended that the project should be abandoned. So far no MOX fuel has been fabricated and used in LWRs on an industrial scale in Russia. Russia currently runs three kinds of reactors: a graphite moderated water-cooled type, the RBMK-1000 design (Chernobyl type); an LWR of an older design, the VVER-440; and a more modern LWR, the VVER-1000, which is closest to current Western models. First studies of MOX use have started only recently because, for a longer time than in most countries, Russia’s first priority has been fast breeders. The current studies relate to MOX use in VVER-1000 reactors and also investigate new designs with improved safety systems (such as VVER-640 or NP-500) that would allow also 100-percent MOX cores. A test critical assembly (SUPR) being constructed will enable the investigation of MOX fuel assemblies suitable for the VVER-1000 reactors. A series of experiments with WPu in two other critical assemblies is planned before the use of SUPR. In addition, a program for the use of some MOX fuel elements in an operating VVER-1000 is in preparation. This type of reactor meets the highest safety standards of Russian reactors, although so far it does not meet German or American standards, which could make gaining approval for assistance more difficult. There are seven operating VVER-1000 reactors in Russia in Balakovo (4 units), Kalinin (2 units), and Novovoronesh (1 unit) at a power of 1 GW each. These reactors began operation between 1980 and 1993. Several more VVER-1000 and other LWR reactors are planned. Nine more operating VVER-1000s, and several additional facilities under construction, are located in Ukraine.

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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM 2.2.2. Experience with Vitrification A waste-vitrification facility with a nominal output of one ton of glass per day is in operation at the Chelyabinsk-65 site. The associated storage facility has a total capacity of 15,000 glass logs. The phosphate-glass composition employed at this facility appears to be both less durable and less resistant to criticality if plutonium is embedded than the borosilicate glass being used in the United States and Western Europe. There are no apparent Russian plans to switch to a borosilicate glass. Russia has operational remote-handling facilities that could be used to operate small melters. There appears to be no experience with, and very little interest in, vitrification for either WPu or RPu in Russia.2 There is small-scale laboratory and some theoretical work on dissolving plutonium in high-temperature melters. Vitrification may have an important role in dealing with the many tons of plutonium that exist as scrap and residues. Waste management in the former Soviet Union was done in a highly dangerous manner— frequently high level wastes (HLW) were simply dumped onto the surface, as in Lake Karachai and the Techa River. This process is believed to have stopped, but HLW are still being injected into the ground as a primary means of disposal.3 When better HLW disposal procedures are adopted, vitrification or similar technologies are likely to play a significant role. Thus, even if the Russians currently reject vitrification for WPu and RPu, there are other environmental advantages to be gained by providing assistance to expand their experience with Western approaches. 2.2.3. Evolution of Russian Nuclear Policy MINATOM operates and controls both the nuclear weapons complex and the civilian nuclear reactor industry. Government and industry are committed to a closed fuel cycle, including plutonium fuels, that emphasizes fast breeder reactors. MINATOM wishes to save the excess weapons plutonium for eventual use as a start-up fuel for future breeder reactors.4 Others indicate a desire to sell the excess plutonium, or to consider a swap for HEU. All maintain that weapons plutonium has an energy and economic value that must be exploited. The interest in MOX technology stems mainly from the goal of setting up a civilian plutonium industry, not in the disposal of WPu. The new national regulatory agency GOSATOMNADZOR, which is in principle the licensing and oversight agency for both construction and operation of reactors, is seeking its role in the new Russia. The division of authority between MINATOM and GOSATOMNADZOR seems unclear, and competition between both for power and control seems to be taking place. A major problem regarding GOSATOMNADZOR, as well as all other bodies with responsibilities in the nuclear sphere, is absence of an atomic energy law. Almost all nuclear regulations stem from executive branch decrees, many of which are not enforced. Under general Russian environmental regulations, local governments co-determine environmental impact statements and intervenors can enter a procedure for safety assessments. Operational licenses can be challenged in 2   A joint NATO-Russian Seminar on vitrification was held in St. Petersburg on May 14–17, 1995. 3   The draft law proposed by the Russian nuclear regulatory agency, GOSATOMNADZOR, would ban this practice, but it still must be passed by the Russian legislature. 4   There is no technical need for this; fast breeders can be started with U235 and Russia has ample stocks of RPu from civilian reprocessing. At any rate large fast breeder start-up is far in the future.

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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM court. After a principal license, six implementation permits are needed during construction; these are issued by a regional office of GOSATOMNADZOR. The Russian public, after decades of government secrecy and the Chernobyl disaster, has become increasingly wary of nuclear matters and distrustful of all government environmental and safety assurances. For example, the regional and local authorities in Tomsk have gathered sufficient strength in opposing the siting of a weapons components storage facility to put its construction in doubt. The time, the obstacles, and the procedures of gaining licenses and permission, and of assuring a smooth development of projects, are highly uncertain and unpredictable at this time. More generally, Russian domestic politics—and their effect on Russia’s policy toward arms reduction and plutonium disposition, as well as on Russia’s willingness to cooperate with Western assistance—are also highly uncertain and unpredictable at present. With parliamentary elections scheduled in 1995 and presidential elections scheduled in 1996, there is growing concern that nationalist forces could come to power or at least achieve greater influence. The election process may make it difficult for President Yeltsin to meet international commitments, such as the ratification of START II. If these delays or changes occur, many areas of Russian-Western cooperation may be hard to sustain. A key problem derives from the tensions and uncertainties in current Russian politics. These have weakened the central government and undermined President Yeltsin’s capacity to carry out policy. Powerful ministries, such as MINATOM with its one million employees, are able to pursue their own particular political and economic interests, sometimes at the expense of broader Russian national or global interests. MINATOM’s ability to withstand pressures from both its own national leaders and Western nations has complicated efforts to put cooperation programs in place. 2.3. GERMAN NUCLEAR INFRASTRUCTURE AND POLICY 2.3.1. Experience with MOX Use and Fabrication Germany has gained experience from several decades of recycling of plutonium covering a wide range of different fuel composition. After a period when plutonium recycling was primarily focused on the goal of fast breeders, the emphasis has shifted towards MOX use in LWRs. The German nuclear industry has extensive operational experience with MOX (see section 1.3 and Appendix B). Thus far, no practical experience and no licenses exist for full MOX cores, although theoretical concepts such as the new German-French pressurized water reactor (1,450 MW) are under development. There are MOX fuel fabrication facilities at Hanau, formerly owned by Alkem GmbH, and now owned by the company Siemens AG. Between 1968 and 1991, a total of 5.6 tons of fissile plutonium was processed into MOX fuel at an older facility with a capacity of 25–30 tons of heavy metal per year. That plant was shut down in 1991 and abandoned in 1994. It is now decommissioned and cannot be restarted. A new industrial-scale plant at Hanau with a capacity of 120 tons of heavy metal per year is 95-percent completed. It was scheduled for start-up in 1993, which did not occur due to political

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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM circumstances. Including maintenance costs during the last years, total costs have now grown to DM 1.1 billion. At this time, the costs of keeping the facility in its current condition are DM 10 million per month. Additional DM 100–150 million would be needed for start-up, which could occur within two years. Decommissioning after a running period of about 20–25 years would cost some DM 100 million. The plant has been granted all necessary operating licenses for civilian reprocessed RPu. While four of the six licenses needed have been validated in court, cases on the last two are still pending. Use of the plant for WPu would require additional licensing, however. The time required for completing this new licensing process is highly uncertain, since new licenses are expected to face new challenges in court. The Hanau plant is enclosed in a 2 m thick reinforced concrete shell designed to withstand earthquakes, chemical reaction blasts, and aircraft crashes. The inner barriers to the processed material are airtight and shielded steel boxes have glove manipulators. All processes are fully automated, and the use of the glove manipulators is restricted to repair and maintenance work. All process equipment is located in working rooms, which constitute the second barrier, and the building forms the third barrier. Tools and parts are inserted by sluices and by the so-called sack technology. It is designed for a radioactive release into the environment to result in a maximum individual dose of below 1 millisievert per year (mSv/a or 100 mrem/a). The plant has a sophisticated safeguards system that was developed together with scientists from the U.S. Los Alamos National Laboratory and meets Euratom and IAEA requirements. The plant has one entry point and one exit. Hanau is located in the state of Hesse, which has a SPD/Green government that gained a clear majority in recent state elections. The state government has said repeatedly that it opposes restarting MOX fabrication at Hanau. German federal law preempts state law, and therefore the federal Environment Minister can order the state Environment Minister to issue licenses; this has happened. Several court rulings proved to be necessary to validate the licenses. But while the new plant now has all necessary licenses, with four out of six validated in court, the state government, using its implementation authority, has required the operator to prove in detail that each step taken is in full accord with the specifications of the license. This has delayed progress toward start-up. Because of the delays, the costs of court cases and maintenance, and the uncertainty of future developments, the owner is likely to abandon the facility unless some of the factors cited here change soon. 2.3.2. Experience with Vitrification The initial vitrification process developed in Europe uses a liquid-fed, directly-heated ceramic melter. Pamela, a prototype plant, was built in Mol, Belgium, and was operated from 1985 to 1991 to treat Eurochemic HLW. Research and development on improvement of vitrification technologies is pursued at the Research Center (KSK) in Karlsruhe. New melter designs and glass compositions are being developed that take into account differences in chemical composition among different wastes.

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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM 2.3.3. German Nuclear Policy and Infrastructure Until recently, the Atomic Act of the Federal Republic of Germany required the reprocessing of irradiated fuel elements and their recycling in a closed fuel cycle. The Atomic Act was amended in May 1994, and now also allows direct geological disposal of spent fuel elements. The new freedom also permits the choice of interim storage. Germany has experience with reprocessing at a small pilot plant in Karlsruhe. A commercial-scale reprocessing plant at Wackersdorf was abandoned in 1988 before the start of construction. Since German reprocessing or storage capacity was insufficient, the German energy suppliers, who were required to demonstrate six years of forward planning for spent fuel management, had to conclude reprocessing contracts, first with the French company Cogema in 1978, and several years later with British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL). These contracts, also called Base Load Customer Contracts, require that the utilities finance construction and operation on a cost plus fee basis and that they take back their corresponding quantities of plutonium, reprocessed uranium, and wastes. The contracts cover the period between 1990 and 2000 and foresee the reprocessing of roughly 8,500 tons of spent fuel, resulting in about 100 tons of separated RPu. Much of the spent fuel covered by these contracts has already been delivered and parts of it have already been reprocessed. Follow-on contracts were signed in 1988–89, which foresee reprocessing an additional 3,000 tons. After the amendment of the Atomic Act, German utilities began canceling their post-2000 reprocessing contracts because reprocessing appeared more costly than direct disposal. That decision was based on a number of studies, in particular a study carried out by the Vereinigung Deutscher Elektrizitätswerke (VDEW, Association of German Electricity Producers), which has not been published.5 As a result of the cancellations of contracts, Cogema and BNFL offered new contracts that foresee intermediate storage and delay the decision on the disposition of the spent fuel. Final decisions have not yet been made, since they are also affected by the prospects for a geological disposal site at Gorleben, which remain uncertain because of local political opposition. Given these conditions, it appears likely that the use of commercial MOX fuel from recycling of spent fuel in German LWRs will decrease in the future. The attitude of the political parties and the public is crucial to evaluating the likelihood of political decisions on nuclear matters. The Christian Democrats (CDU) and Free Democrats (FDP), the parties that constitute the federal government, are pro-nuclear although not wedded to recycling. The Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, who have formed the opposition since 1982 and dominate 14 of 16 state governments, currently favor a complete phase-out of nuclear energy. In the course of the energy consensus talks, a more compromising attitude among the SPD leadership became visible, not on the principle of phase-out, but on its timing. This corresponds to a slight shift in public attitude, which had become quite anti-nuclear after the Chernobyl accident. The Greens draw part of their political identity as a party from commitment to nuclear disarmament, of which disposal of WPu is an important part. Yet the other part of their identity 5   Another study has been published recently that arrives at a similar result: Ingo Hensing and Walter Schulz, “Vergleichende Studie über die Wirtschaftlichkeit des Wiederaufarbeitungspfades und der direkten Endlagerung abgebrannter Brennelemente” (Comparative Study of the Economy of Reprocessing and Direct Disposal), Verlag R. Oldenbourg, 1995. See also National Academy of Sciences, Committee on International Security and Arms Control, Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Reactor-Related Options (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1995).

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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM stems from their opposition to nuclear energy, so little change is to be expected on their part. The so-called “consensus talks” among the political parties and the industry attempted to formulate a long-term energy program. Talks collapsed in late 1993, partially because of the upcoming elections, but they have recently restarted.