Skip to comments.US objects to Japanís plans for Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing
Posted on 05/03/2013 5:45:06 PM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
US objects to Japans plans for Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing
Posted on May 2, 2013 by John Hofilena inPoliticswith1 Comment
The Rokkasho nuclear reprocessing plant located in Japans northern Aomori Prefecture is capable of putting out nine tons of weapons-grade plutonium in a year, and this is exactly why the United States is opposing Japans plan to reprocess its nuclear fuel. The annual output of the facility, once at full capacity, is enough to build as many as 2,000 nuclear weapons, a fact not lost on Washington, as Tokyo insists that the program is non-military in nature.
The Japanese government has repeatedly stated that the plutonium output of the nuclear reprocessing facility will be allocated strictly for power generation. But this strikes the U.S. as a vague argument, as only two of Japans 50 power reactors are running the rest have been mothballed due to safety concerns arising from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Japan has been indignant about its commitment to oppose the use of nuclear weapons, as it has been the only country to suffer a nuclear attack. But Washington is keen to keep the political stability of the region in check, as tensions have escalated due to North Koreas nuclear weapons testing which has been opposed by the international community. The U.S. is of the opinion that as Japan has no obvious use for the nuclear fuel, it should not proceed with putting the Rokkasho facility online, as stockpiling tons of weapons-usable plutonium will not set a good example for the international community, it says. U.S. officials believe that Japans regional neighbors, particularly China, South Korea and Taiwan, are looking at the progress of the Rokkasho plant to gauge their own actions whether to pursue a nuclear fuel program as to balance nuclear capabilities in the area or, in Beijings case, make more plutonium to keep abreast of Japans stockpile. As a practical matter, if (Japan) operates Rokkasho, it will force China to respond to re-establish that it, Beijing, not Tokyo, is the most dominant nuclear player in East Asia, said Henry Sokolski, head of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Washington. Such nuclear tit-for-tats-manship could get ugly.
Another major U.S. concern has to do with the security of Japans plutonium stockpile. Tokyo has, as of now, an estimated nine tons of weapons-usable plutonium on its soil. The Obama administration has made it clear to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission in a meeting in April that the stockpile would have long-reaching effects with the nuclear development environment all over the world. Allowing Japan to acquire large amounts of plutonium without clear prospects for a plutonium-use plan is a bad example for the rest of the world, U.S. officials have been quoted as saying. Also, the U.S. has been holding off on helping South Korea to start a nuclear fuel reprocessing program, as it is worried about the stability in the region. If Japan is allowed to reprocess nuclear fuel, Seoul might take issue with the fact that Japan is able to do exactly that which the U.S. has been discouraging them to do.
But Japan is rigid in its statements that there should be no worries about the nuclear output of Rokkasho, as it is meant for purely civilian purposes. Yasufumi Fukushi, spokesman for Rokkashos operator Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., said that soon Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will look to restart idled nuclear-power plants that meet new safety standards. He said that Rokkasho is part of a national energy policy that even seeks to reduce plutonium stockpiles by processing them into fuel for the power plants. Fukushi even stressed that the United Nationss nuclear monitoring arm, the International Atomic Energy Agency, will be closely looking at the Rokkasho operation to guard against any diversion of the weapons-usable plutonium. Japan accepts regular and irregular inspections from the IAEA and makes public how it handles and uses plutonium, which proves that Japan makes a peaceful use of it, Fukushi said.
A huge chunk of domino block is falling down on China, and mostly, they have themselves to blame
if US soooooo concerned about japan making plutonium maybe japanese sell to iran and all good
Japan and South Korea must develop nuclear weapons as soon as possible to counteract Chinese military power.
Worry about Japan? I don't think so. More than any other nation, Japan is likely to use restraint. They would nuke someone only as an absolute last resort.
I think Japan has had them for quite some time. The US pacification was not that thorough. For every 100 Anime Nerds there is a Shogun ancestor that didn’t get the memo. And all those ‘heavy industries’ aren’t just building prototype Gundam statues.
i think the development is over they just have to say oh look what we found
Japan may loathe the idea of nuclear weapons for obvious reasons, but with the decline of America as a credible ally and deterrent to China, Japan needs all the plutoniun it can make.
They should ignore Washington as it has been taken over by lunatics.
Oh be assured. They will.
Japan likes the fast breeder reactor type, which requires enriched plutonium. It probably really is just for civilian use. This is probably just the Obama administration being incompetent again.
They should ignore Washington as it has been taken over by lunatics.
They know they're on their own. I agree with you, they should ignore Washington, just like N Korea and Iran always have.
Any ally of ours needs to be fully prepared to defend themselves, alone.
Our USA economy and power are decreasing more rapidly than most people are allowed to see. The ROK and Japan should build their own nuclear forces.
The Japaneses are not stupid. They know the casualties they took during the battle for Okinawa. The two bombs dropped on Japan allowed a surrender without loosing too much face AND without taking a million plus dead.
Of course, you still have that hideous green glow at night in the Hiroshima & Nagasaki areas, the gnarled grotesque trees, the three headed rats running everywhere and above all the 2 meter long cockroaches which all resulted from the lingering radiation poisoning.
Hiroshima Peace Park
Why shouldn’t Japan reprocess? Let them! Just think, look at it from their perspective. How can they continue to count on America’s umbrella of defense? The pace at which America is decaying, they might rightfully question whether America will even exist twenty years from now. Much less be in any position to assist them in some grave regional threat. I wouldn’t blame them one bit.
Since Japan already has between nine and 40 tons of weapons grade plutonium (depending on who you talk to, so I’d say the horse is already out of that particular barn.
Plus, it is highly unlikely that Abe is going to listen to anything coming from the Obama administration since it has been policy for at least 30 years to encourage Japan to spend MORE on defense, with a lot of winking and hinting that strategic arms research would not be unduly troubling.
All of this is really a moot point. Japan has undoubtedly produced excellent designs for warheads, has access to all the technology it needs for delivery systems, and I’d bet any amount of money anyone is willing to wager that they have already acquired or prefabricated components — which have been carefully stashed for when they might become necessary.
Hm, I don't know... I rather think there's a good chance of something sparking a CWII -- In that case there's going to be a lot of question as to which side will win.
In the event of CWII, who do you see getting involved in the conflict.
Japan has bought and paid for a continuous security protective from the US for nearly 70 years. Now it wants a lower US presence on its islands.
Time for Japan to chart its own course.