With exception of the almost-completed Hanau plant, most of the existing and projected MOX fabrication capacity in Europe is fully contracted to fabricate reprocessed commercial reactor fuel. Therefore, in the absence of new facilities being constructed, substantial quantities of WPu withdrawn from excess nuclear weapons could be fabricated under MOX fuel only if the U.S. facility (FMEF) were completed, at an estimated cost of about $100 million, or if the obstacles now preventing the Hanau facility from becoming operational could be removed.

An alternative approach of substituting WPu for the planned MOX fabrication of already contracted RPu reprocessed from commercial spent fuel has been suggested, but it appears unrealistic in view of the existing commitments. Moreover, unless the commercial spent fuel were not reprocessed, it would simply substitute WPu for the accumulating inventories of reprocessed RPu from commercial spent fuel; since the latter also constitutes a proliferation risk, such a substitution does not seem to be to offer any nonproliferation advantage.

It should be noted that the controversial issue concerning reprocessing of commercial spent fuel is not involved in the question of whether, where, and how WPu from excess nuclear weapons should be fabricated into MOX. The existence of the WPu is a physical reality and it has already been reprocessed. Thus, the issue of MOX fuel fabrication deals with the question of whether MOX fabrication facilities should be made available for purposes of disarmament, and the question of fabricating MOX in the civilian nuclear power fuel cycle is an independent issue.



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