1. minimize the time during which the plutonium is stored in forms readily usable for nuclear weapons;

  2. preserve material safeguareds and security during the disposition process, seeking to maintain the same high standards of security and accounting applied to stored nuclear weapons;

  3. result in form from which the plutonium would be as difficult to recover for weapons use as the larger anf growing quantity in plutonium is commercial spent fuel; and

  4. meet high standards of protection for public and worke health and for environment.

The two most promising alternatives for achieving these aims are:

  • fabrication and use as fuel, without reprocessing, in existing or modified nuclear reactors; or

  • vitrification in combination with high-level radioactive waste.

A third option, burial of the excess plutonium in deep boreholes, has until now been less thoroughly studied than have the first two options, but could turn out to be comparably attractive.

  1. All Fissile Material. We recommend that the United States pursue new international arrangements to improve safeguards and physical security over all forms of plutonium and HEU worldwide. In particular, new cooperative efforts to improve security and accounting for all fissile materials in the former Soviet Union should be an urgent priority.

Because plutonium in spent fuel or glass logs incorporating high-level wastes still entails a risk of weapons use, and because the barrier to such use diminishes with time as the radioactivity decays, consideration of further steps to reduce the long-term proliferation risks of such materials is required, regardless of what option is chosen for disposition of weapons plutonium. This global effort should include continued consideration of more proliferation-resistant nuclear fuel cycles, including concepts that might offer a long-term option for nearly complete elimination of the world’s plutonium stocks.

On September 27, 1993, the Clinton administration announced a non-proliferation initiative that included some first steps in the directions recommended above, among them a proposal for a global convention banning production of fissile materials for weapons; a voluntary offer to put U.S. excess fissile materials under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards; and a recognition that plutonium disposition is an important non-proliferation problem requiring renewed interagency, and ultimately international, attention. This is a much needed and timely start; more, however, remains to be done.

CRITERIA AND CONTEXT

The steps we recommend are designed to meet three key security objectives:

  1. to minimize the risk that either weapons or fissile materials could be obtained by unauthorized parties;



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