As a result of the Presidential Decision you signed last week, several
tasks were immediately assigned to the follow-on group. The first paper
is attached. A second decision paper addressing the Japanese problem is
also ready at this time.2 Negotiations
with the Japanese begin next Tuesday. Three more short papers, dealing
with different aspects of U.S. nuclear export policies, will be ready
within a few days.
Part III of the paper deals with important political questions, and with
the crucial issue on which the bureaucracy is still deeply divided, of
whether our evaluation program will include reprocessing, or just
alternatives to it, and more specifically, what the U.S. attitude should
be toward existing reprocessing plants.
The attached paper (much of which I do not understand) was approved by an
interagency group, including Jim
Paper Prepared by the Interagency Group on
ACTIVITIES, FACILITIES AND TECHNOLOGIES INVOLVING
DIRECT ACCESS TO WEAPONS USEABLE MATERIAL
I. Definition of Weapons-Useable Materials
Weapons useable materials are:
—uranium which is enriched in the isotope 235 to 20% or greater
(HEU), or uranium-233 (produced
by irradiation of thorium).
These materials must be in either metal or oxide forms in order to be directly useable
in weapons: we will call these forms Category
Uranium 235 and 233 and plutonium may be present in various chemical
and physical forms short of pure oxide or metal: conversion of these
forms to pure oxide or metal presents differing difficulties in
terms of complexity of chemical operations, time required, and
amount of material required. They can be categorized as follows:
Category B: Material requiring relatively simple
—HEU in UF6 form (i.e. the output of
—HEU oxide or metal in unirradiated
—HEU and/or Pu in nitrate form (i.e.
the output of reprocessing plants).
Category C:4 Material requiring more complex chemical
—unseparated U-Pu nitrates (e.g. from “coprocessed” LWR fuel).
—mixed oxide (U-Pu) fuel for LWRs (Pu less than 20%).
Category D: Material involving complex chemical
operation, in presence of high radioactivity levels, or
involving isotopic separation (decreasing order of
—low enriched or natural uranium.
—all irradiated fuel.
—partially coprocessed fuel (i.e. some fission products removed).
The major nuclear fuel cycles are presented in Table I, and
identified by their utilization or production of the various
categories of material. The Table reveals much useful information
concerning proliferation. For example, it indicates that only one
strictly non-sensitive fuel cycle now exists: the heavy water
natural uranium cycle (HWR) without
reprocessing. It should be noted however, that the HWR has significant non-proliferation
problems. Its core uses many more, smaller individual (and therefore
harder to keep track of) fuel rods than an LWR, and it is reloaded
continuously, without shutting down the reactor. On the other hand,
an LWR must be shut down to be reloaded, and this is only done twice
a year, after which it is sealed. The HWR is also capable of producing high quality weapons
grade plutonium without interfering with its power production. It
was a research version of this reactor which produced the material
for the Indian explosion.
The other attractive fuel cycle from the proliferation viewpoint is
the LWR without recycle. A large majority of nuclear power programs
are based on this reactor (though not on this fuel cycle). The
principle drawback of the LWR cycle, is of course that it
requires—somewhere—an enrichment capability. All known enrichment
processes produce a Category B product, except laser isotope
separation which produces Category A.
The decisions which arise from these technical analyses relate to
which technologies will be included in our international program,
and [Page 850] which we regard as too
sensitive, and therefore beyond the pale. The major problem on which
agencies now disagree, is whether coprocessing should be encouraged,
for example at Tokai. NRC feels
that coprocessing is no better in the long run than reprocessing,
ACDA disagrees. Other agencies
are unsure. To a lesser degree, this same confusion holds for
partial coprocessing. This issue is addressed in the accompanying
paper on Tokai. It does not require a Presidential decision at this
time, but any guidance you might care to offer would be
III. Political Aspects
To be effective, the evaluation program needs to develop and
1. technical alternatives which will maximize physical barriers to
the direct accessibility of weapons-useable materials, e.g., LWRs
with long-term spent fuel storage instead of reprocessing, or cycles
using fuel “spiked” with highly radioactive material from partial
2. technical/political alternatives which will isolate sensitive
technologies, facilities and materials under effective institutional
arrangements, e.g., multinational centers, or supplier monopolies on
3. institutional arrangements by which positive results of the
program could be implemented as widely as possible.
The success of the evaluation program will depend, in large part, on
a) its acceptability to the other industrialized countries and b)
the degree to which it can be reconciled with existing programs
relating to breeder development and associated reprocessing. In this
regard, it should be noted that the British are in the process of
scaling up their Windscale reprocessing facility, the French have a
commercial reprocessing plant in operation with specific plans to
increase capacity, the Japanese have built their Tokai pilot
reprocessing plant and are ready to begin testing it, and the FRG has a pilot reprocessing plant in
operation and appears firmly committed to another much larger
Table II lists existing or planned foreign reprocessing facilities.
All of these nations also have avowed interests in proceeding with
the breeder. In some cases, the U.S. does not have substantial
leverage over their activities. Our objective is to try to induce
them to actively participate in the evaluation program and to
reorient their current programs.
Given this situation, we could seek the cooperation of France, the
UK, and the FRG through an evaluation framework
which would include optimizing safeguards and related controls that
might be applied [Page 851] to
reprocessing and related plutonium handling facilities. Results of
such work would prove valuable should we not be successful in moving
the world away from a plutonium economy.
Alternatively we could adopt an approach which would leave existing
facilities outside the evaluation framework. At the same time, in
either case, the U.S. could attempt to wean away British and French
reprocessing clients through aggressive aid with spent fuel storage,
and through selective use of the U.S. veto over reprocessing of
If we adopt a more confrontational position, such
as seeking to actively discourage operation of all foreign
facilities, there is significant risk that key allies will go
forward in spite of our efforts, that we will undercut our
attempts to move others away from a plutonium economy, and that
we will be isolated in the process from both industrialized and
ISSUE: General U.S. stance toward existing
Include in the evaluation program—work to improve safeguards
Neutral stance—existing plants outside the evaluation program
Actively discourage reprocessing wherever it exists _______.