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Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium Committee on International Security and Arms Control National Academy of Sciences NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1994
NOTICE: This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by the President of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its ad- ministration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the re- sponsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and rec- ognizes the superior achievement of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own in- itiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The Committee on International Security and Arms Control is a standing committee of the National Academy of Sciences. Its membership includes members of all three bodies. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to asso- ciate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies de- termined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. This project was made possible with funding support from the Department of Energy, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and National Research Council funds. The MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York provide core support for the work of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control, including projects such as this. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 94-65536 International Standard Book Number 0-309-05042-1 The Executive Summary is available in limited quantities from the Committee on International Security and Arms Control, 2101 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20418. The full study, Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium, is available for sale from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue N.W., Box 285, Washington, DC 20055. 800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area). B-317 Copyright (3 1994 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America First Printing, March 1994 Second Printing, July 1994
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND ARMS CONTROL JOHN P. HOLDREN (ChairJ, Class of 1935 Professor of Energy, University of California-Berkeley CATHERINE MCARDLE KELLEHER (Vice ChairJ, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Program, The Brookings Institution WOLFGANG K.H. PANOFSKY (Plutonium Study ChairJ, Professor and Di- rector Emeritus, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University JOHN D. BALDESCHWIELER, Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engi- neering, California Institute of Technology PAUL M. DOTY, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; and Director Emeritus, Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Umverslty ALEXANDER H. FLAX, President Emeritus, Institute for Defense Analyses; and Senior Fellow, National Academy of Engineering RICHARD L. DARWIN, IBM Fellow Emeritus, Thomas J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corporation DAVID C. JONES, General (retired), U.S. Air Force SPURGEON M. KEENY, JR., President, Arms Control Association JOSHUA LEDERBERG, University Professor, The Rockefeller University MICHAEL M. MAY, Director Emeritus, Lawrence Livermore National Labo- ratory C. KUMAR N. PATEL, Vice Chancellor, Research, University of California- Los Angeles JONATHAN D. POLLACK, Corporate Research Manager for International Policy, The RAND Corporation JOHN D. STEINBRUNER, Director, Foreign Policy Studies Program, The Brookings Institution ROBERT H. WERTHEIM, Rear Admiral (retired), U.S. Navy JEROME B. WIESNER (Consultant to the Chair), Institute Professor, Massa- chusetts Institute of Technology Staff JAMES WYNGAARDEN, ex officio, Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Sciences JO L. HUSBANDS, Director MATTHEW BUNN, Plutonium Study Director LA 'FAYE LEWIS-OLIVER, Administrative Assistant MONICA OLIVA, Research Assistant LOIS E. PETERSON, Research Associate . . .
PANEL ON REACTOR-RELATED OPTIONS FOR THE DISPOSITION OF EXCESS WEAPONS PLUTONIUM JOHN P. HOLDREN (ChairJ, Class of 1935 Professor of Energy, University of Califomia-Berkeley JOHN AHEARNE, Executive Director, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society ROBERT BUDNITZ, President, Future Resources Associates RICHARD L. GARWIN, IBM Fellow Emeritus, Thomas J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corporation MICHAEL M. MAY, Director Emeritus, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory THOMAS PIGFORD, Professor of Nuclear Engineering, University of Califomia-Berkeley JOHN TAYLOR, Vice President, Nuclear Power Division, Electric Power Research Institute Staff MATTHEW BUNN, Plutonium Study Director LA 'FAYE LEWIS-OLIVER, Administrative Assistant MONICA OLIVA, Research Assistant LOIS E. PETERSON, Research Associate 1V
Preface With the end of the Cold War, the United States and the nations of the former Soviet Union are engaged in arms reductions on an unprecedented scale. What to do with the materials from the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons to be dismantled has become a pressing problem for international se- curity. This study results from a request to the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) by General Brent Scowcroft, then the National Security Adviser to President Bush. Scowcroft asked for a full-scale study of the management and disposition op- tions for plutonium after hearing a CISAC briefing on its discussions in March 1992 with a counterpart group from the Russian Academy of Sciences. The Clinton administration confirmed CISAC's mandate in January 1993. The formal U.S. government sponsor of the report is the Office of Nuclear Energy of the Department of Energy (DOE). Additional support for the project is being provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and National Research Council funds. The MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York provide core support for CISAC, including its policy reports. CISAC is a standing committee of the academy, unlike most National Research Council committees, which are formed to conduct a particular study and then dissolved. Established in 1980 to bring the scientific and technical capabilities of the academy to bear on problems of international security, CISAC's members include distinguished scientists, engineers, and policy ex- perts. CISAC's objectives are to (1) engage similar organizations in other coun- tries in discussions of international security and arms control policy; (2) de- velop recommendations and other initiatives on scientific and technical issues related to international security and arms control; and (3) respond to requests for analysis and information from the government. John P. Holdren (Class of 1935 Professor of Energy, University of California-Berkeley) serves as chair, with Catherine McArdle Kelleher (Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution) as vlce-chalr. v
vi PREFACE CISAC's former chair, Wolfgang K.H. Panofsky (Professor and Director Emeritus, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University), chairs the plutonium study project. With the exception of Joshua Lederberg, who was un- able to participate in the project, all members of CISAC took part in the study and have unanimously endorsed this report. In carrying out its study, CISAC focused on the substantial security risks posed by these excess nuclear weapons and materials. The committee examined the stages of the reductions process, beginning with dismantlement of nuclear weapons, continuing through intermediate storage of the fissile materials from those weapons,. and ending with long-term disposition of those materials. The committee focused specifically on the political and institutional context of these steps, both nationally and internationally. The committee has attempted to evaluate the consequences of each step for enduring, stable nuclear arms reduc- tions and for improving the prospects for nuclear nonproliferation. One important set of options would introduce the plutonium into nuclear reactors or into the waste stream from nuclear reactors. In order to supplement the committee's technical expertise for examining these options, CISAC formed a small Panel on Reactor-Related Options for the Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium, headed by John P. Holdren, to evaluate and make recom- mendations to the committee. The panel report, which is being published as a companion volume, was subject to a separate peer review by the National Academy of Sciences. The study proved to be a huge undertaking, demanding hundreds of hours of research, discussion, and drafting from committee and panel members who were operating under a tight schedule to produce the report in time to be most valuable for U.S. policymaking. The committee and the panel received dozens of briefings from U.S. government and private experts, visited sites in the U.S. nuclear weapons production complex, and traveled to Russia, where they met with major figures involved in formulating that country's policy on disposition. The CISAC staff provided invaluable assistance throughout the course of the study. Study Director Matthew Bunn, who supported both the committee and the panel reports, deserves special recognition. Not only did he draft much of the full committee report, and portions of the panel report, he also coordi- nated the effort and did research on key issues that greatly enriched the study. Mr. Bunn produced prodigious quantities of work in amazingly short time and made major intellectual contributions to the study's development. It could not have been completed without him. CISAC's staff director, Jo Husbands, also deserves recognition. She pro- vided crucial guidance and support throughout the study, with unfailing intelli- gence and unflappable good humor. She also kept the committee's other projects on track while the study was under way. Lois Peterson and Monica Oliva, CISAC's research associate and research assistant, respectively, labored long and hard to provide both substantive and administrative assistance, includ- ing much of the work of preparing the manuscript for publication. La'Faye
PREFACE vii Lewis-Oliver, CISAC's Administrative Assistant, provided essential adminis- trative support throughout the process. The issue of management and disposition of plutonium from arms reduc- tions has a long history and a voluminous literature, stretching back almost to the beginning of the nuclear age. In recent years, these issues have been studied by a wide variety of groups and individuals in the United States, including those associated with the Department of Energy and other agencies of the U.S. government, the Office of Technology Assessment, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Federation of American Scientists, the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, several Department of Energy laboratories, and a variety of private companies. Groups and individuals in Russia, Europe, Japan, and elsewhere have also examined the problem. In carrying out its study, CISAC benefited greatly from this substantial body of prior work, and extensive communications with many of those involved in it, for which the committee is profoundly grateful. In addition, CISAC was fortunate to receive help from many parts of the Department of Energy. Staff members from DOE headquarters and facilities, including Hanford, Savannah River, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore, generously gave time to help clarify and resolve technical issues, as well as providing access to relevant experts and materials. The Idaho National Engi- neering Laboratory merits particular recognition for its significant effort, with- out charge to the academy, to analyze several aspects of the reactor disposition options, such as nonfertile reactor fuels. Without this assistance, it would have been impossible for the committee to examine these issues in the depth re- quired, with the time and personnel at its disposal. Finally, but not least, CISAC received invaluable assistance from William G. Sutcliffe of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who served as an un- paid consultant and an informal liaison to DOE for the project. His contacts and his own extensive knowledge of both the substance and the policy process for these issues were often indispensable. There are no easy answers to the problems posed by the fissile materials that are part of the legacy of the Cold War arms competition between the United States and the former Soviet Union. As the committee makes clear in its study, the issues it addresses and the options it outlines and evaluates will be of critical importance to the future prospects for nonproliferation and arms reduc- tion. Action is urgently needed, and the study is a road map to assist policy- makers as they make these difficult choices. In CISAC's words, "The existence of this surplus material constitutes a clear and present danger to national and international security. None of the options yet identified for managing this material can eliminate this danger; all they can do is to reduce the risks." Bruce Alberts President, National Academy of Sciences
Table of Contents Executive Summary. .1 Chapter 1: Introduction: Task and Context 19 The Task, 19 Objectives, 23 The Context: World Stocks of Fissile Materials, 28 Risks and Standards, 31 The Institutional Framework, 34 The Role of Environment, Safety, and Health, 35 Plan of the Study, 36 Chapter 2: International Context... Planned Nuclear Arms Reductions: How Much Plutonium and When? 39 The Crisis in the Former Soviet Union, 43 The Arms Reduction Regime, 47 The Nonproliferation Regime, 49 Civil Plutonium Programs, 52 Safeguards and Physical Security, 54 ............................... 39 Chapter 3: Criteria for Comparing Management and Disposition Options 61 Criteria Related to Security, Timing, and Capacity, 61 Criteria and Issues in Economic Evaluation of Alternatives, 70 Issues and Criteria Relating to Environment, Safety, and Health, 76 Other Criteria, 84 1X
Chapter 4: Declarations and Dismantlement The Case for a Broad Regime, 88 Implementing a Broad Regime, 95 Internationalizing the Regime, 101 Managing and Monitoring Dismantlement, 102 Managing Dismantlement for Environment, Safety, and Health, 107 Recommendations, 108 (chanter ~ Intermediate Storage Present Arrangements and Plans for Plutonium Storage, 112 Technical Issues, 117 Institutional Issues, 123 Reducing the Risk of Nuclear Theft in the Former Soviet Union, 133 Other Plutonium and HEU Worldwide, 136 Recommendations, 137 Chapter 6: Long-Term Disposition............................................................ Introduction, 141 The Range of Choice, 144 Criteria for Disposition Options, 147 The Options, 153 1. Indefinite Storage, 153 2. Minimized Accessibility Options, 154 a. Reactor options, 154 b. Disposal options, 187 3. Beyond the Spent Fuel Standard, 205 a. Space launch, 206 b. Ocean dilution, 208 c. Fission and transmutation, 209 Conclusions, 213 Recommendations, 220 ..87 111 ..141 Chapter 7: Recommendations 223 Declarations and Dismantlement, 224 Intermediate Storage, 225 Disposition, 226 Total Plutonium Inventories, 228 Appendices A. List of Principal Briefings B. Profiles of Civilian Plutonium Programs. C. Nonreactor, Nonrepository Disposal of Excess Weapons Plutonium: Technical Issues x ..231 ..235 .245
Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium