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MAY 12, 2004
9:56 AM
CONTACT: Greenpeace 
Tom Clements 202-319-2411
Soaring Stocks of Weapons-Usable Plutonium Demand International Support of Comprehensive Fissile Material Treaty

WASHINGTON - May 12 - Global stocks of weapons-usable fissile materials are rising as fast as during the height of the Cold War and must urgently be addressed in a comprehensive treaty, Greenpeace International warned today.

"The solution to curbing proliferation in weapons-usable fissile materials -- plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) -- exists via a Comprehensive Fissile Material Treaty (CFMT)," said Shaun Burnie, research director of Greenpeace International's Nuclear Campaign. The draft treaty was presented today by Greenpeace in a noon briefing at the National Press Club and has been distributed to governments worldwide at the United Nations.

"Despite acknowledging proliferation and terrorist risks, international efforts by the Bush Administration and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) avoid dealing with the emerging fissile material crisis," said Burnie. "In his February 11 non-proliferation policy, President Bush failed to call for an end to further accumulation and use of all nuclear bomb materials, a policy failure which must be corrected."

While most military production of plutonium and HEU has halted, stocks of plutonium in commercial plutonium programs are increasing dramatically. In Japan, France, the UK and Russia, stocks of plutonium will increase by as much as 125 tons by 2015, equal to half the plutonium produced by the nuclear weapon states during the Cold War. While civilian stocks of weapons-usable plutonium have now reached 215 tonnes, rivaling the 250 tonnes in military stocks, some are proposing only a partial fissile treaty to address only some military stocks.

Of major proliferation concern in Northeast Asia is Japan's effort to start up the new $20 billion Rokkasho reprocessing plant, capable of producing 7 tonnes of weapons-usable plutonium yearly. "The world can ill afford the non-proliferation failure which start-up of Rokkasho would represent," said Tom Clements, senior adviser to Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace made available video of vulnerable plutonium transports in France. "We believe transports of plutoium in Europe present one of the easiest targets for those wishing to steal plutonium," said Burnie.

The upcoming G8 summit in Georgia also presents a test of international will to halt commercial use of bomb material, according to Greenpeace. "If the G8 is serious about halting the proliferation of plutonium then it must eliminate funding for a risky plutonium fuel infrastructure in Russia," said Clements. The Greenpeace treaty would place surplus military plutonium under international control, managing it as nuclear waste.


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