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JUNE 5, 2000

At Oktyabrskaya Hotel +7 (3912) 271-916 (fax) +7 (3912) 270-581


 On the eve of a Russian-American conference in Kranoyarsk, Russia on the dangers of plutonium, Presidents Clinton and Putin announced an agreement which supports the industrial use of plutonium. Many scientists and environmentalists attending the conference expressed surprise and dismay that the bilateral agreement abandons the safer alternative of immobilization for Russian plutonium.
 The agreement calls for all 34 tons of Russian plutonium designated as excess to be used in nuclear power plants; 25.5 tons of U.S. plutonium would be used in the Duke Power Catawba and McGuire reactors near Charlotte, with only 8.5 tons to be immobilized. Much American plutonium is too contaminated to be made into fuel
 Today in his formal presentation to Krasnoyarsk conferees, Dr. Arjun Makhijani, who heads the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Maryland, said that the agreement "would require commercial nuclear facilities to become more militarized." He cited the increased risk of reactor accidents with plutonium fuel compared with uranium fuel and the Nuclear Control Institute study which concluded that plutonium fuel use would result in more cancer deaths from reactor accidents. Dr. Makhijani expressed concerns about the "many more opportunities for theft and illegal use of these materials."
 Janet and Lou Zeller, on staff with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, are attending the conference as part of the American delegation. "What troubles me most about the Russian-American plutonium agreement is the pretense that weapons-grade plutonium is being burned up," said Janet Zeller. "The truth is that we will have almost as much plutonium in the waste fuel." She continued, "Masquerading as non-proliferation, this program will disseminate the most dangerous poison created by Man throughout the entire world."
 The Krasnoyarsk conference takes place June 4 - 8. Sponsors include Krasnoyarsk krai (state) administration, the Socio-Ecological Union (Moscow, Russia), and the Center for Safe Energy (Berkely, CA).
 The eight member American delegation includes researchers and environmentalists from California, Texas, Washington DC, Montana, and North Carolina. The American Delegation attended the conference at the invitation of Governor Lebed of Krasnoyarsk.


White House Briefing Room

June 4, 2000


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
(Moscow, Russia)
For Immediate Release
June 4, 2000


United States - Russian Federation Plutonium Disposition Agreement

 President Clinton and President Putin today announced that the United States and Russian Federation have completed a key arms control and non-proliferation 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 Unites States and Russia have already agreed to nuclear arms reductions that have lead 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 tones 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 Sates 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 co-ordinate this extensive Cupertino with Russia. This will be on the agenda for the G-8 Summit in Okinawa in July.
 The US Congress has already appropriated $200 million for plutonium disposition in Russia, which will now be used for the 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 Sates 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 Cupertino arrangements, establishing international financing, and developing plans to accelerate plutonium disposition.