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7 Recommendations The committee's work on the issues of plutonium management and disposition has led it to the following four principal recommendations: 1. A New Weapons and Fissile Materials Regime. The committee recommends that the United States work to reach agreement with Russia on a new, reciprocal regime that would include (a) declarations of stockpiles of nuclear weapons and all fissile materials; (b) cooperative measures to clarify and confirm those declarations; (c) an agreed halt to the production of fissile materials for weapons; and (d) agreed, monitored net reductions from these stockpiles. Monitoring of warhead dismantlement and commitment of excess fissile materials to non-weapons use or disposal, initially under bilateral and later under international safeguards, would be integral parts of this regime, as would some form of monitoring of whatever warhead assembly continues. 2. Safeguarded Storage. The committee recommends that the United States and Russia pursue a reciprocal regime of secure, internationally monitored storage of fissile material, with the aim of ensuring that the inventory in storage can be withdrawn only for non-weapons purposes. 3. Long-Term Plutonium Disposition. The committee recommends that the United States and Russia pursue long-term plutonium disposition options that: (a) minimize the time during which the plutonium is stored in forms readily usable for nuclear weapons; 223
224 RECOMMENDATIONS (b) preserve material safeguards and security during the disposition process, seeking to maintain the same high standards of security and accounting applied to stored nuclear weapons; (c) result in a form from which the plutonium would be as difficult to recover for weapons use as the larger and growing quantity of plutonium in commercial spent fuel; and (d) meet high standards of protection for public and worker health and for the 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. 4. All Fissile Material. The committee recommends 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. ~ ~ * · The president should establish a more systematic process of interagency coordination to deal with the areas addressed in this report, with sustained top- level leadership. DECLARATIONS AND DISMANTLEMENT · The United States and Russia should make formal commitments that specific quantities of fissile material from dismantled weapons (representing a very large fraction of those materials) will be declared excess and committed to non-weapons use or disposal. Storage and disposition of these materials should be subject to agreed standards of accountability, transparency, and security. The standards for accountability and security should approximate as closely as possible the stringent standards applied to stored nuclear weapons. · The United States should negotiate with Russia to create, through a step- by-step process, a broad regime under which each side's stocks of nuclear weapons and fissile materials would be declared and monitored, and the size of both stocks would be verifiably reduced over time in line with current reduc- tions in deployed delivery systems. This regime would include, in addition to the fissile material steps mentioned in the previous recommendation:
RECOMMENDATIONS 225 1. a system of mutual declarations of total inventories of nuclear weapons and of fissile materials in civilian and military inventories; 2. measures designed to increase confidence in the accuracy of the declarations, and the transparency of each side's nuclear weapons production complexes, including physical access to production facilities and production records for fissile materials; 3. a monitored cutoff of production of HEU and plutonium for weapons. If necessary, the United States should be willing to provide limited funding to assist Russia in the measures necessary to cut off plutonium production; and 4. an agreement providing for perimeter-portal monitoring of dismantlement facilities, counting warheads entering these facilities and assaying the fissile material that leaves. If the net subtractions from each side's stockpile are to be confirmed, some monitoring of warhead assembly will be required as well. · Information concerning the total stockpiles of weapons and fissile materials, and those weapons characteristics necessary for external monitoring, should be declassified as part of this transparency regime. Appropriate reviews to prepare for such declassification should be initiated promptly. · Russia and the United States should dismantle their retired warheads as expeditiously as is practical, consistent with protection for the environment, safety, and health, and cost-effectiveness. INTERMEDIATE STORAGE · The United States and Russia should place plutonium excess to military needs in safeguarded storage as soon as practical. · Stored excess fissile materials committed to non-weapons use or disposal by the United States and Russia should be placed under international safe- guards (possibly combined with bilateral monitoring). In the interest of speed, monitoring of storage could initially be a bilateral U.S.-Russian effort, but the IAEA should be brought into the process rapidly. · The United States should continue providing assistance for a Russian fissile material storage facility, which should be designed to consolidate all excess weapons materials at a single site, to facilitate security and international momtorlng. · Plutonium from dismantled weapons should continue to be stored as intact pits for now. Deformation of these pits and perhaps other steps to reduce the rearmament risk should be given serious consideration, and should be undertaken if they can be accomplished at relatively low cost and ES&H risk.
226 RECOMMENDATIONS · Pits should be stored in sealed containers, with monitors permitted to assay the containers externally without observing the pits' dimensions, to pro- vide adequate safeguards without compromising sensitive weapons design information. · Once definite disposition options have been chosen, the plutonium should be converted expeditiously to whatever form is required as part of the disposi- tion process. · Financial or other incentives might be provided to encourage Russia to place the maximum amount of material into monitored storage. With the con- dition that these not be an open-ended commitment or provide any incentive for continued production of separated plutonium, such incentives would be desir- able and should continue to be explored. · The safeguards budget of the IAEA should be substantially increased, and other steps should be taken to strengthen that organization's ability to carry out its critical responsibilities. One promising approach would be the creation of a voluntary fund, to which nations interested in improved safeguards would make contributions above and beyond their fixed allocations. · Appropriate arrangements for intermediate storage are to a large extent decoupled from long-term disposition decisions and should be considered more urgent. DISPOSITION · It is important to begin now to build consensus on a road map for deci- sions concerning long-term disposition of excess weapons plutonium. Because disposition options will take decades to carry out, it is critical to develop op- tions that can muster a sustainable consensus. · Storage should not be extended indefinitely, because of (1) the negative impact that maintaining this material in forms readily accessible for weapons use would have on nonproliferation and arms reduction, (2) the risk of breakout and (3) the risks of theft from the storage site. One of the key criteria by which disposition options should be judged is the speed with which they can be ac- complished, and thus the degree to which they curtail the risks of prolonged storage. · Disposition options beyond storage should be pursued only if they reduce overall security risks compared to leaving the material in storage, considering both the final form of the material and the risks of the various processes re
RECOMMENDATIONS 227 quired to get to that state. In the current unsettled circumstances in Russia, this minimum criterion is a significant one. · The United States and Russia should begin discussions with the aim of agreeing that whatever disposition options are chosen, an agreed, stringent standard of accounting, monitoring, and security will be maintained throughout the process-coming as close as practicable to meeting the standard of security and accounting applied to intact nuclear weapons. · Disposition options should be designed to transform the weapons pluto- nium into a physical form that is at least as inaccessible for weapons use as the much larger and growing stock of plutonium that exists in spent fuel from commercial nuclear reactors. The costs, complexities, risks, and delays of going further than this "spent fuel standard" to eliminate the excess weapons plutonium completely or nearly so would not be justified unless the same ap- proach were to be taken with the global stock of civilian plutonium. · The two most promising alternatives for the purpose of meeting the spent fuel standard are: 1. The spent fuel option, which has several variants. The principal one is to use the plutonium as once-through fuel in existing commercial nuclear power reactors or their evolutionary variants. Candidates for this role are U.S. light- water reactors (LWRs), Russian LWRs, and Canadian deuterium-uranium (CANDU) reactors. The use of European and Japanese reactors already licensed for civilian plutonium should also be considered for Russian weapons plutonium. 2. The vitrification option, which would entail combining the plutonium with radioactive high-level wastes (HLW) as these are melted into large glass logs. The plutonium would then be roughly as difficult to recover for weapons use as plutonium in spent fuel. A third option, burial in deep boreholes, has until now been less thor- oughly studied than alternative 1 and 2, but could turn out to be comparably attractive. · A coordinated program of research and development should be under- taken immediately to clarify and resolve the uncertainties the committee has identified regarding each of these three options. The aim should be to pave the way for a national discussion, with full public participation, in order to make a choice within a very few years. · Applying the spent fuel standard narrows the options considerably: 1. Options that irradiate the weapons plutonium in reactors only briefly ("spiking"), leaving it far less radioactive than typical spent fuel, and with little
228 RECOMMENDATIONS change in its isotopic composition, should not be pursued except possibly as a preliminary step on the road toward the spent fuel option. (Even for that pur- pose, in those cases the committee has examined, the possible advantages of the spiking option over continued storage do not appear to be worth the substantial cost of such spiking approaches.) 2. Options that involve only a chemical barrier to reuse such as vitrifica- tion of plutonium without HLW or other fission products should not be pur- sued, except possibly as a first step toward adding radiological or physical bar- riers as well. 3. Advanced reactors should not be specifically developed or built for transforming weapons plutonium into spent fuel, because that aim can be achieved more rapidly, less expensively, and more surely using existing or evolutionary reactor types. 4. Options that strive to destroy a large fraction of the plutonium without reprocessing and recycle, using existing or advanced reactors with nonfertile fuels, should not be pursued because such approaches cannot destroy enough of the plutonium to obviate the need for continuing safeguards, and the modest reduction in security risk that could be achieved is not worth the extra delay, cost, and uncertainty that development of such approaches would entail. · Production of tritium should not be a major criterion for choosing among disposition options. · Institutional issues in managing plutonium disposition are complex and the process to resolve them must be carefully managed. The process must pro- vide adequate safeguards, security, and transparency, as well as protection for the environment, safety, and health; obtain public and institutional approval, including licenses; and allow adequate participation in the decision making by all affected parties, including the U.S. and Russian publics and the interna- tional community. Adequate information must be made available to give sub- stance to the public's participation. TOTAL PLUTONIUM INVENTORIES · Although the committee did not conduct a comprehensive examination of the proliferation risks of civilian nuclear fuel cycles, which would have gone beyond its charge, the risks posed by all forms of plutonium must be addressed. · While the spent fuel standard is an appropriate goal for next steps, fur- ther steps should be taken to reduce the proliferation risks posed by all of the world's plutonium stocks, military and civilian, separated and unseparated; the need for such steps exists already, and will increase with time. Options for near-total elimination of plutonium may have a role to play in this effort, and research on defining and exploring these options should be continued at a con
RECOMMENDATIONS 229 ceptual level. These options, however, can only realistically be considered in the broader context of the future of nuclear electricity generation, including the minimization of security and safety risks the assessment of which is beyond the scope of this report. Studies of that broader context should have as one im- portant focus minimizing the risk of nuclear proliferation, and should consider nuclear systems as a whole, from the mining of uranium through to the disposal of waste; should consider feasible safeguarding methods as elements of devel- opment and design; and should take an international approach, realizing that other nations' approaches reflect their differing economic, political, technical, security, and geographic situations and perceptions. · Urgent steps are needed to improve safeguards and security for all fissile materials in the former Soviet Union, including materials beyond those consid- ered excess. The committee recommends a comprehensive approach at a sig- nificantly higher level of funding, with an emphasis on cooperation in address- ing the most immediate risks. Western countries, including the United States, should press Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union to take a number of steps urgently, and should be willing to provide necessary equipment and funds for these purposes. In particular, Western countries should press for and offer assistance for: 1. immediate installation of appropriate portal-monitoring systems to detect any theft of fissile materials, as well as adequate armed guard forces, at all sites where enough weapons-usable fissile material to make a nuclear weapon is stored; 2. an urgent program of security and accounting inspections and improvements at all of these sites; 3. improved economic conditions for personnel responsible for accounting and security for weapons and fissile materials, to reduce incentives for corruption and insider theft; 4. improved national oversight of security and safeguards, with a strengthened basis in law. In Russia, this would involve strengthening the role of GOSATOMNADZOR, while in other former Soviet states it would involve strengthening or creating comparable organizations; 5. consolidation of fissile material storage and handling where possible; 6. conversion of research reactors to run on low-enriched uranium fuels, reduc- ing the number of sites where weapons-grade fissile materials are used; 7. greater Western participation and cooperation in safeguards and security, ideally at all fissile material sites, but at all civilian sites at a minimum; and 8. regularized, as well as emergency, working-level cooperation in monitoring reports of alleged diversions.
230 RECOMMENDATIONS · The steps outlined by the committee to improve safeguards and physical . . security for fissile materials in the United States and Russia should set a standard for a regime for improved management of such materials in civilian use throughout the world. Negotiations should be pursued to: 1. create a global cutoff of all unsafeguarded production of fissile materials; 2. use the U.S.-Russian safeguarded storage regime recommended above as a base for a broad international storage and management regime for fissile materials, including registration and safeguards for all civilian separated plutonium and HEU; 3. extend the U.S.-Russian declaratory regime mentioned above to a global regime of public declarations of stocks of fissile materials; 4. agree on higher standards of physical security for these materials, with an international organization given authority to inspect sites to monitor whether the standards are met; and 5. agree on cooperative international approaches to manage reprocessing and use of plutonium to avoid building up excess stocks.