NPEC hosted a Capitol Hill policy lunch forum on September 14, "America's and Japan's Other Emerging Nuclear Problem: Tons of "Peaceful" Plutonium." The forum featured a panel of visiting Diet members and experts from Japan who came to draw attention to the planned expansion of "peaceful" commercial plutonium capacity in Japan, China, and South Korea. If these East Asian nations' plans are realized, thousands of weapons' worth of nuclear explosive material will be stockpiled in the region.
Japan and the United States currently have a nuclear cooperative agreement that permits plutonium production. It is up for renewal in July of 2018. The question is: will the United States and Japan exploit this agreement's provision for joint consultations on Japan's plutonium plans? Will Japan defer opening its large commercial plutonium reprocessing plant at Rokkasho next fall? Is it possible to encourage China to defer its plans to begin construction of a similar larger plutonium separation plant? Finally, what are South Korea's plans regarding the recycling of plutonium? Watch the event video below to get answers to these questions.