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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM
On the other hand, vitrification is one of the major options under consideration in the United States. Moreover, in addition to the WPu from warheads, Russia has a substantial amount of residual WPu, and vitrification, for technical reasons, appears to be the preferable disposal option. Russia will need this or similar technology to dispose of civilian high-level radioactive waste in any case. Therefore the Steering Committee recommends the development and construction of a small vitrification facility in Russia, which the Russians could use for their weapons plutonium residues (e.g., non-metal scrap and waste plutonium) as a pilot project. A facility with a capacity of approximately 40 kg of glass per day, which would be equivalent to a daily throughput of 0.4 kg of plutonium, would be an appropriate size. The Russians would become familiar with the vitrification technology and the associated safeguards and the experience might reduce Russian opposition to vitrification. The acceptance in the German and the U.S. public should be high.
The recommended options must be designed to facilitate eventual international safeguards. The only exception, for a limited time, is assistance to intermediate storage as long as intact pits are stored, because they involve proliferation-sensitive and classified information. The Committee does not recommend directly linking technical aid for the disposition of weapons plutonium to a need for international safeguards on civilian plutonium, but it gives a strong recommendation for a diplomatic effort to negotiate in favor of a regime of comprehensive international safeguards for all kinds of plutonium in all countries.