THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release September 1, 1998
Plutonium Disposition Statement
Progress in nuclear arms control has allowed the U.S. and Russia to reduce greatly the number of nuclear weapons in their arsenals. Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin today took a major step forward to ensure that these reductions are permanent and irreversible. They agreed today on the concrete steps to ensure that plutonium recovered from dismantled weapons will not find its way into the hands of terrorists or third countries seeking to build nuclear arms.
The U.S. and Russia each pledged to remove from their weapons programs some 50 metric tons of plutonium each -- enough to make thousands of weapons -- so that it can never be used again in nuclear weapons. The Presidents agreed on principles to guide implementation of this conversion by building industrial-scale facilities in both countries.
The disposition of the plutonium will be carried out either by consuming the plutonium as fuel in existing civil nuclear reactors or through mixing the plutonium with high-level radioactive waste and storing it in a long-term spent fuel repository. Appropriate transparency and international verification measures will apply to this program, as will stringent standards of safety, environmental protection, and material protection, control and accounting.
This program will build on the Agreement on Scientific and Technical Cooperation in the Management of Plutonium signed by Vice President Gore and then Prime Minister Kiriyenko in July, as well as extensive ongoing cooperative research involving laboratories and scientists in both countries.
U.S.-Russian cooperation on plutonium disposition will be carried out in close cooperation and coordination with parallel efforts involving Russia and other G-8 countries. The Presidents directed their experts to initiate negotiations to transform these agreed principles into bilateral agreement that will lay out the concrete steps for plutonium disposition and govern their future cooperation in this area. President Clinton and President Yeltsin agreed to begin negotiations for this bilateral agreement promptly, with the intention of completing the agreement by the end of the year.