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Japan-U.S. nuclear fuel reprocessing pact automatically renews after 30-year deadline passes

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The nuclear pact between Japan and the United States that allows Japan to reprocess spent nuclear fuel and enrich uranium, automatically renewed Wednesday, after Tokyo made no move to end it by Tuesday, the deadline to do so.
The bilateral nuclear agreement, which entered into force in July 1988, had authorized Japan to establish a nuclear fuel recycling system over 30 years to July 2018.
As neither side has sought to review the pact it will remain in force indefinitely, but can be terminated six months after either party notifies the other. Such a notification can be made at any time.
The pact is “part of the foundation of our country’s use of nuclear power” and also “crucial to Japan-U.S. relations,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Tuesday.
Under Japan’s nuclear fuel recycling system, spent fuel from nuclear reactors is reprocessed to extract uranium and plutonium. These materials are then recycled into fuel called mixed oxide, or MOX, for use in fast-breeder reactors or conventional nuclear reactors.
But uncertainties over the country’s reprocessing program have grown after most nuclear plants in Japan suspended operations amid safety concerns following the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. In December 2016 the government decided to decommission the trouble-prone Monju fast-breeder reactor at the core of the fuel cycle policy.
The U.S. government does not see any immediate need to review the pact partly because of tensions in East Asia, where North Korea is developing nuclear weapons and China is expanding its military, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.
Japan possesses 47 tons of plutonium within and outside the country. If it is unable to reduce its stockpile, that may spark concerns in the United States and calls for reviewing the pact may increase.

 

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January 18, 2018 - Posted by | Nuclear | ,

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