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HOME > TOPICS > Nuclear Abolition & The Next Arms Race      
May 15 & 18 Book Release Events: Reactor-Grade Plutonium and Nuclear Weapons: Exploding the Myths

On May 15 and 18, 2018, NPEC held two lunch events to mark the release of its latest book, Reactor-Grade Plutonium and Nuclear Weapons: Exploding the Myths, by Greg Jones. The events featured talks by Greg Jones and Olli Heinonen, former Deputy Director for Safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency.

May 15, 2018

On May 15 and 18, 2018, NPEC held two lunch events to mark the release of its latest book, Reactor-Grade Plutonium and Nuclear Weapons: Exploding the Myths, by Greg Jones.

Now that the United States is not a party to the nuclear deal with Iran, there is a distinct possibility that Iran might stockpile material that would enable it to make a bomb. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, meanwhile, announced on 60 Minutes that Saudi Arabia would get a nuclear weapon "as soon as possible" if Iran got a bomb. Both cases raise the prospect that these nations might use their "peaceful" nuclear power facilities to make their first batch of bombs. Some Japanese and South Korean legislators and government officials also favor using their countries' civil nuclear infrastructure to develop nuclear bomb options. Turkey and Egypt, also insist they have a right to reprocess spent power reactor fuel to make separated plutonium.

This raises the question: Could these countries use nuclear power reactor plutonium to make effective bombs? This question has long been debated. The nuclear power industry downplays this possibility. In his book, Greg Jones, who has done decades of research on this question, refutes each of the industry's contentions. What is the difference between power reactor-grade plutonium and weapon-grade plutonium? Why do some people believe reactor-grade plutonium can't be used to make nuclear weapons? Has it ever been used to produce a nuclear explosive? Have any countries planned to use reactor-grade material to make their first nuclear weapons? What are the policy implications of the answers to these questions?

Watch the videos below to see how Greg Jones and Olli Heinonen, former Deputy Director for Safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency, sort through this debate.

 

 Gregory Jones
Proliferation Matters

 


Olli Heinonen
Foundation for Defense of Democracies


Q+A


Full Video

The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), is a 501 (c)3 nonpartisan, nonprofit, educational organization
founded in 1994 to promote a better understanding of strategic weapons proliferation issues. NPEC educates policymakers, journalists,
and university professors about proliferation threats and possible new policies and measures to meet them.
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