Office of the Press Secretary
United States - Russian Federation Plutonium Disposition Agreement
President Clinton and President Putin today announced that the United States and the Russian Federation have completed a key arms control and nonproliferation agreement providing for the safe, transparent and irreversible disposition of 68 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium -- enough plutonium to make thousands of nuclear weapons.
The United States and Russia have already agreed to nuclear arms reductions that have led to the removal of weapons-grade plutonium from their military programs. This new agreement details the goals, schedules, monitoring principles and conditions for the irreversible disposition of that plutonium.
Unlike weapons-grade uranium, which is being blended down for use as nuclear power fuel both in the United States and in Russia, plutonium cannot be blended with other materials to make it unusable in weapons. Under the agreement, each Party must dispose of at least 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium by irradiating it as fuel in reactors or by immobilizing it with high-level radioactive waste, rendering it suitable for geologic disposal. The United States intends to use 25.5 tons as fuel and to immobilize 8.5 tons; the Russian Federation intends to use 34 tons as fuel.
Both Russia and the United States will accelerate their work leading toward construction of new industrial-scale facilities for conversion of the plutonium and its fabrication into fuel. The Agreement requires each Party to seek to begin operation of such industrial-scale facilities by 2007, to achieve a disposition rate of at least 2 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium per year and, working with other countries, to identify additional capacities at least to double that disposition rate.
The agreement establishes certain rights, obligations and principles for monitoring and inspecting the disposition and the end products to ensure the plutonium can never again be used for nuclear weapons or any other military purposes. The agreement bans reprocessing of this plutonium until the entire 34 metric tons have been disposed. After that, any reprocessing of this plutonium must be done under effective, mutually agreed monitoring measures.
The agreement also anticipates that any additional plutonium designated in the future as excess to defense needs can be disposed under these same terms and conditions.
The Russian program is estimated to cost over $1.7 billion over twenty years. The U.S. program, which includes immobilization facilities as well as conversion and fuel fabrication facilities, is estimated to cost $4 billion.
The agreement recognizes the need for international financing and assistance for the Russian Federation to fulfill the obligations of the agreement. There is strong international support, particularly among G-8 nations, for the initiation and implementation of plutonium disposition. The United States and the Russian Federation will work with other countries to develop an international financing plan for the Russian program and multilateral arrangements to integrate and coordinate this extensive cooperation with Russia. This will be on the agenda for the G-8 Summit in Okinawa in July.
The U.S. Congress has already appropriated $200 million for plutonium disposition in Russia, which will now be used for pre-construction design work for industrial-scale facilities in Russia. Today's agreement will also accelerate research, development and demonstrations under the 1998 technical agreement for plutonium disposition between the United States and Russian Federation.
The agreement is a critical, indispensable step toward the goal of ensuring proper disposition of this plutonium from weapons programs. Next steps include negotiating multilateral cooperation arrangements, establishing international financing, and developing plans to accelerate plutonium disposition.
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