Nuclear non-proliferation obligations must be honored

Bernard Weinstein, an economist and associate director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, talks about honoring nuclear non-proliferation obligations.

By Bernard L. Weinstein, Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business

Twenty-five years ago, the United States and the former Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at each other. But doomsday was averted in 1993 when the newly-formed Russian Federation signed an agreement to harness the huge amount of energy contained in nuclear-weapons materials for the production of electricity.
Under the agreement, the U.S. offered a financial incentive to the Russians to dismantle their weapons and dilute uranium to a lower level of enrichment that could be used as fuel in U.S. nuclear power plants. So far nearly 500 metric tons of highly-enriched uranium from dismantled Soviet warheads has been eliminated.

Measures have also been taken to safeguard and reduce stockpiles of nuclear-weapons-grade plutonium. In 2000, both countries signed an accord to convert their plutonium into a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel that could be used in civilian reactor fuel assemblies.
In order to convert our plutonium stockpiles into MOX, a fabrication facility is currently under construction at the Savannah River Site operated by the U.S. Department of Energy in Aiken, South Carolina. Ground was broken in 2007, and the project should be completed and able to start converting plutonium into MOX by 2016. The Tennessee Valley Authority and several other utilities are currently negotiating with the National Nuclear Security Administration to buy...

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