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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM
4.2. INTERMEDIATE STORAGE
Until disposition has been completed, secure storage is essential. The U.S. Defense Department and MINATOM are committed to a collaborative project to build a secure storage facility for excess Russian WPu. The facility was to be built with U.S. assistance on the condition that the fissile material would not be reused for new warheads and that the United States would be allowed to monitor the storage facility. The United States and Russia have found it difficult to come to common terms, however. In addition to other points of difference, DOD has been unwilling to pay for Russian labor because of its interpretation of the restrictions in the Nunn-Lugar legislation. The United States has allocated a total of $90 million for design and equipment, but more effort is required before further progress can be made.
Since the secure intermediate storage is of pivotal importance, the Steering Committee recommends German support. Germany could contribute funding and technology to the U.S.-Russian cooperative program. Examples for technologies that could be contributed are specialized construction equipment, metal and radiation portal detectors, access control and personnel identification technology, video cameras, and motion-detection alarms. As with MPC&A, German financial assistance that enabled the Russians to manufacture and use their own equipment would be an important contribution. Given the sensitivity of this project, any effort would have to be carefully coordinated with the United States. As long as the components are in a form that could reveal classified information on warhead design, there must be no German contact with storage of warhead components. For the time being, this is likely at the planned storage facility since it probably will store intact pits as recommended by the NAS study. Although Germany has an independent interest in international safeguards, for an interim period it could rely here on U.S. assurances that it was satisfied with Russian progress on dismantlement.
4.3. RECOMMENDATIONS ON DISPOSITION OPTIONS
4.3.1. The “Hanau Option”
From a strictly technical point of view, the fastest solution to the disposition problem would be the fabrication of MOX from Russian WPu in the almost-completed Siemens plant at Hanau. The plant could be available in about two years since the technology and all necessary licenses for RPu are available, although two of them are still pending in court. Additional licenses would be necessary for WPu, a process that could cut considerably into the technical time-advantage of this option. With a capacity of 5 tons WPu per year, the process of MOX fabrication would take 20 years for 100 tons of WPu, which could include both or either Russian and U.S. WPu. The MOX could be consumed in German and perhaps additional European LWRs. Burning the MOX in 10 German PWRs at 1/3 core loading would take roughly 34 years.2 As a result, the
Another possibility, which has not been discussed in detail by the Steering Committee but is being seriously considered within the U.S. government, is burning the fuel in CANDU reactors in Canada. The CANDU reactors would not need technical alterations in order to handle full MOX cores. The United States regards the absence of reprocessing technology and experience in Canada as a specific nonproliferation advantage.