Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia is complicit in Japan stockpiling plutonium

a problem succinctly explained back in 1982 by current South Australian Premier Mike Rann: “Again and again it has been demonstrated here and overseas that when problems over safeguards prove difficult, commercial considerations will come first.”.…The Rudd Government needs to break this habit and establish an independent inquiry to identify measures to tighten the safeguards system.

The Myth Of The Peaceful Atom, newmatilda.com, By Jim Green, 20 April 2010, “…………Last December, the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), co-chaired by Australian Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi from Japan, released its first report.

Like other bodies ICNND chooses to skim over the proliferation risks arising from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel — a process which involves separating plutonium which can then be used directly in weapons. Japan is one of the world’s worst offenders in relation to plutonium stockpiling and Australia is also complicit, never once having refused Japan (or any other country) permission to separate and stockpile plutonium produced from Australian uranium.

Japan’s plutonium program clearly fans regional tensions and proliferation risks. A March 1993 diplomatic cable from US Ambassador Armacost in Tokyo posed these questions: “Can Japan expect that if it embarks on a massive plutonium recycling program that Korea and other nations would not press ahead with reprocessing programs? Would not the perception of Japan’s being awash in plutonium and possessing leading edge rocket technology create anxiety in the region?”

Since that 1993 cable, Japan’s plutonium stockpile has grown and regional tensions have worsened. The ICNND report advocates new technologies “to avoid current forms of reprocessing altogether”. But the obvious question is why wait for new technology when suspending reprocessing would provide an immediate signal that Japan and Australia recognise the need to resolve the problem of plutonium stockpiling?

Suspending reprocessing wouldn’t undermine Australia’s uranium exports or Japan’s nuclear power program — in other words it’s the least we should expect. Kevin Rudd could announce tomorrow that he will no longer allow reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel produced from Australian uranium. Instead he waffles on about the fracturing of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime while his actions and inaction contribute more to the problems than to the solutions………

Apparently preferring to ignore these problems, the Australian Government continues to set new lows in relation to safeguards. Australia’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has advised the Government against exporting uranium to Russia unless IAEA safeguards inspections take place. The IAEA has not inspected a single nuclear facility in Russia since 2001 and there is no requirement in the 2007 Howard-Putin agreement for any IAEA inspections to take place in future. However, the Government has rejected this advice, arguing that it trusts Russia to do the right thing.

All of these failures reflect an fundamental problem underlying nuclear power, a problem succinctly explained back in 1982 by current South Australian Premier Mike Rann: “Again and again it has been demonstrated here and overseas that when problems over safeguards prove difficult, commercial considerations will come first.”….

The Rudd Government needs to break this habit and establish an independent inquiry to identify measures to tighten the safeguards system. It must not be just another gabfest — as the ICNND turned out to be — but rather be a focussed inquiry backed by a with real intent to address the problems….” The Myth Of The Peaceful Atom | newmatilda.com

April 20, 2010 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | , , , , ,

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