11:00-12:00, Thursday, May 23,2013
Frank von Hippel, Professor of Princeton University
Mycle Schneider, Mycle Schneider Consulting
Masafumi Takubo, Kakujoho (Nuclear Information) website
田窪 雅文, ウェブサイト「核情報」主宰
During the week of May 20, Professor Frank von Hippel (USA), Mycle Schneider (France) and Masafumi Takubo (Japan), respectively co-chairman and members of the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), will be giving briefings in Tokyo. The IPFM, based at Princeton University in the USA, has been contributing information and analysis to policy debates over the future of spent nuclear fuel management in all the countries that currently separate plutonium from spent fuel.
Japan is the only non-weapon state that separates plutonium. Most other countries, including the United States, have adopted alternative, less costly and less dangerous spent fuel management options. Despite institutional and political obstacles, the group concludes that Japan could follow the same track.
Plutonium is a nuclear weapon material and separating it lowers the barriers to nuclear weapon proliferation. This is why the U.S. has opposed South Korea's insistence that it should have the same right to reprocess as Japan. The IPFM is also concerned that separated plutonium is vulnerable to theft by terrorists. As President Obama cautioned: "We simply can't go on accumulating huge amounts of the very material, like separated plutonium, that we are trying to keep away from terrorists."
The IPFM's comprehensive analysis of Japan's policy options finds that interim dry-cask storage of spent fuel is much less costly and significantly safer than reprocessing. Dry storage is the primary form of spent fuel management used by every one of the world's 31 nuclear countries - except France, India and Japan. It also is being urged in Japan by Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the new Nuclear Regulation Authority, as much safer than pool storage for spent fuel that is more than a few years old..