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2016-03-26

美南卡州長致信能源部拒收日本歸還的核物質鈽○共同社(2016.03.25)

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The ship that carries Japanese weapons-grade plutonium back to the US must be CVN-74 John C. Stennis.



美南卡州長致信能源部拒收日本歸還的核物質鈽○共同社(2016.03.25)
  【共同社華盛頓324日電】24日獲悉,美國南卡羅來納州州長海利致函美國能源部部長莫尼茲,要求將日本歸還給美國的研究用鈽等核物質運回日本或轉運至他處。這批核物質按計劃應運往該州薩凡納河附近的核設施。

  裝載這批核物質的運輸船22從茨城縣東海村東海港出發前往美國,預計將於5月抵達。因當地反對,運輸工作可能停滯。

  南卡州的核設施內已保存了大量拆除核武器後所得的鈽。將這些鈽加工成鈾鈽混合氧化物(MOX)燃料用於核電站的計劃因費用高漲遲遲沒有進展,南卡州已針對能源部提起訴訟,要求儘快加以解决。

  海利州長抗議稱,對於接收從日本運來的鈽一事感到十分困惑。她擔憂南卡州將淪爲核物質最終處理地,强調爲了居民得安全及環境保護,無法接受。(完)


South Carolina governor urges U.S. to divert plutonium from JapanReuters (2016.03.24)
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has written to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz demanding a shipment of weapons-grade plutonium en route to her state from Japan be turned back or sent elsewhere, according to a copy of the letter seen by Reuters.

The demand has the potential to embarrass the Obama administration a week before it hosts an important summit on nuclear non-proliferation and undermine what so far has been viewed as a success in keeping weapons-grade material safe.

The ship loaded with weapons-grade plutonium left Japan for a Department of Energy site in South Carolina on Tuesday in what is the largest such shipment of the highly dangerous material since 1992, the environmental group Greenpeace said.

The shipment "puts South Carolina at risk for becoming a permanent dumping ground for nuclear materials," Haley said in the letter dated March 23. "Therefore, stop shipment or re-route this defense plutonium. God bless."

A representative for the U.S. Department of Energy said it is reviewing Haley's letter but cannot comment on matters under active litigation.  The state has sued the department over the federal government's plans to scrap a plutonium recycling plant that has been under construction for years in the state.

The dispute comes as Washington prepares to host the Nuclear Security Summit March 31 to April 1.

The plutonium being shipped was supplied by the United States, Britain and France for the government-owned Japan Atomic Energy Agency's Fast Critical Assembly research project in Tokai Mura, according to the International Panel on Fissile Materials.

The agreement to transfer the material to the United States was reached in March 2014 at a previous non-proliferation summit, the panel said on its website.

A South Carolina-based environmental advocacy group said the shipment "only exacerbates the plutonium storage and disposition problems at" the department's Savannah River Site, a 310-square mile (500 square kilometers) area bordered by the Savannah River and Georgia.

"The U.S. Government has done a poor job of explaining why this material is being taken to SRS,” Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch, said in a statement.

The 331 kilograms (730 pounds) on board the British-owned Pacific Egret is only a tiny proportion of the nearly 50 tonnes (55 tons) of plutonium held by Japan.

ENOUGH FOR 50 NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Japan wants to use the plutonium extracted from spent fuel in nuclear plants as fuel for modified reactors.  But with nearly all the country's units still shut down in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster five years ago and no schedule for further restarts there is little use for the material.

Only a few reactors can take plutonium as fuel.

A homegrown reprocessing plant being built in northern Japan, which has relied on the British and French to extract plutonium from spent uranium fuel rods, also has the potential to add to the stockpile, although its start has been repeatedly delayed.

The plutonium being shipped, enough to make about 50 nuclear weapons, was taken from the nuclear research center in the port town of Tokai Mura near Tokyo, for transport to South Carolina.

The website www.vesselfinder.com said the ship is a nuclear fuel carrier.

Shipments of plutonium are highly sensitive because it can be used in nuclear weapons or to make a so-called dirty bomb.  In Japan, public sensitivity is also high because it is the only country that has been attacked with nuclear bombs.

Japan is also the only nation without atomic weapons with significant amounts of plutonium, which has led to constant criticism from neighboring countries, scientists and others.

China, a nuclear weapons state, this week said Japan should abide by its non-proliferation obligations.

"Japan is still stockpiling a large amount of other sensitive nuclear materials, including separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium.  This certainly is an issue for the international community to be concerned about,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday.

Thomas Countryman, an assistant U.S. secretary of state in charge of non-proliferation, has called into question the renewal of an agreement between Washington and Tokyo that allows Japan to reprocess and produce weapons-grade plutonium.

The agreement is due to be extended in 2018, but with a new U.S. administration starting in January its status is unclear.

"We think that there are genuine economic questions where it's important that the U.S. and its partners in Asia have a common understanding of the economic and non-proliferation issues at stake before making a decision about renewal of the 1-2-3 Agreement, for example, with Japan," Countryman told a Senate hearing last week.

(Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo and and Megan Cassella in Washington; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Valerie Volcovici and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Susan Heavey and Andrea Ricci)



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