United States allows Japan to reprocess plutonium

17 July, 2018

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On Tuesday (Jul 17), a decades-old deal with the United States which allows Japan to reprocess plutonium was renewed, but the pact can be terminated by either side with just six months’ notice.

Spent fuel from nuclear reactors is reprocessed to extract uranium and plutonium, which is then recycled into fuel called mixed oxide, or MOX, for use in both conventional nuclear reactors and fast-breeder reactors.Most reprocessing is currently done overseas, mainly in France, and Japan has struggled with technical problems at the new facility.
The country’s Atomic Energy Commission reportedly plans a self-imposed cap on the reserve, which now stands at 10 tonnes inside the country, with another 37 tonnes in Britain and France for reprocessing.
“Japan appears be caught up in the idea that in an emergency it can produce nuclear weapons with its reprocessing technology,” said Hideyuji Ban, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre, an anti-nuclear NGO.

 

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Rokkasho plant in Aomori Prefecture, a key pillar of the country’s nuclear fuel recycling policy

 

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