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U.S.-GERMAN COOPERATION IN THE ELIMINATION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM
try, such as the nuclear industry, the national security community, various parts of the government, and the public. As a result, proposals for solutions to mitigate the “plutonium glut” may differ considerably among countries and within each nation.
The exclusive target of this report will be the search for improvements in international security through optimum management of excess fissile material and its disposition. While we will avoid choices among options for the civilian nuclear fuel cycle, such options must be considered as part of the context for judging the feasibility and acceptability of alternate options for plutonium management and disposition.
The report consists of two main parts. The first describes the context in which German-U.S. collaboration can take place. We will identify the policies, experience, and interests of the United States, Russia, and Germany. We will assess the nuclear disarmament process already under way and the activities through which the United States and other Western countries are cooperating with Russia to improve the security of the plutonium management and disposition process.
The second part of this report investigates possibilities for German participation, both independently and in cooperation with the United States. First some underlying principles are established, defining the goals and the framework of collaboration between Germany and the United States. Recommendations are aimed at enhancing international security and are not influenced by the ongoing German domestic debates over nuclear energy, or by additional market opportunities for the nuclear industry. Several options for collaboration are identified, and their advantages and disadvantages are evaluated. The primary criterion used in this evaluation is the security risks of various options; the feasible time scales considering Russian, U.S. and German conditions, political acceptability to the major actors, potential effects on the environment and public health, and rough cost estimates are important criteria as well. This evaluation results in a list of recommendations relating to the potential German role.
In identifying options for German-American collaboration in support of Russian weapons plutonium activities, the Steering Group has not identified the cost of the various options. Some specific cost figures are given for various steps for purpose of reference. The responsibility for the management and disposition of the weapons plutonium released from excess nuclear warheads in the former Soviet Union rests with Russia, the owner of these weapons, but in the present economic situation it is not expected to achieve this formidable task without major support and assistance from the Western powers. The general judgment is that the cost to be borne by them for this purpose will be in the range of several billion dollars, spread over the next ten years. How such costs shall be borne by the nations concerned is, of course, a matter of international negotiations.1 We point out here, however, that this total cost is an exceedingly small fraction of the sums the world is expected to spend in the name of international and national security during the same period.
The actual components of the costs of the reactor-related and vitrification options are by their nature uncertain, and depend on the specific conditions of the work to be undertaken. These issues are discussed in detail in a report by a special panel of CISAC. See 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).