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.
“if US soooooo concerned about japan making plutonium maybe japanese sell to iran and all good”
Did you mean to say prutonium?
It almost doesn't matter who starts it off, if it isn't directly the Government, then the government will step in and become involved. -- There are some interesting possibilities: the gang presences, the police presences, military presence all three can be involved and, interestingly, on the side of the common man. (Less likely from the gangs, but possible if things become a race-war [i.e. they'll not sit idly by and allow their families to be taken out]).
The police and military are both problematic: military especially hinges on orders, so there's some question as to whether they'd side with the common man or not. It is certainly possible that they'll start upholding their orders and then at some point start refusing them because they "cross the line." (I'd put it at a 50/50 split as to how many would side with the gov vs the Citizen.) The police are similar, except that they would likely have far less hesitancy or rejection of orders, as they've been doing many things violative of the Constitution as a matter of standard operating procedure. [This is also dependent on how close the particular police dept is to the people of the city; if it's a small tight-knit city they're likely going to be loyal to the community over the government.]
The National Guard and States is another big question -- the States themselves could easily be drawn into some conflict that the feds are involved in. Being closer to the people, I would expect the Guard to be more loyal to the citizenry... the problem is that they'd likely be far less restrained in actions conducted in a foreign state... so it is conceivable that something happens in some state and multiple Guard units are federally activated and sent in to subjugate that state (the fed-gov would claim it's doing its Constitutional duties in putting down insurrection as well as co-opting the compliance/involvement of several States), this outlines a plan that the FedGov could use to weaken states that are slipping from its control as well as putting down a state that is "rebelling" (or at least can be claimed to be).
This is completely ignoring the foreign-nation aspects of a second Civil War. If things get REALLY bad some strong nation like China [or perhaps the UN itself] could step in "for peace-keeping measures"... though the "smart" thing to do would be to wait until both sides are worn down and then "join the party".
Excellent point. If we have a breakdown of order here, all that stands between us and China swooping in, is Japan. What with China making war noise with India, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea... well, China is rankling their swords at everyone nearby, Japan could very well end up defending us.
Interesting analysis. I was more curious as to what foreign powers you think may become involved in one way or another.
But it’s ok if Iran and North Korea generate plutonium.
Alaska might be a temptation for Russia, possibly China. I think China would definitely consider Gobbling up our Pacific holdings, including Hawaii. The eventual winner of CWII would make a lot of noise, but it would be a fait accompli. I think it’s safe to assume that a second civil war in America would progress less like the first and more like the conflicts in the Balkans or Rwanda, so the winner would likely be brutalized and thoroughly spent.
Hm, harder -- I'm not really up on my "rest of the countries of the world"... but I'll give an off-the-cuff analysis.
Individually, most countries would be hesitant to get involved because civil wars are typically bad juju [ie waste of resources] (think Bosnia) that provide little payoff and the difficulty of keeping the supply-lines across the ocean isn't negligible. So that leaves Mexico and Canada as the "most likelies" with Mexico likely trying to grab the southwest -- Canada is interesting, I don't think they'd get involved and might actually benefit from "war refugees"... then again, IIRC, they do have socialized medicine and they might think twice about burdening their system by accepting them.
Of the oversea foreign powers China is the likeliest to make a mad snatch at something -- they're signaling a lot of expansion-desire with the recent disagreement w/ Japan over those little islands, the incursions into India, and... one other thing that slips my mind, at the moment.
Russia might try to grab Alaska because it's mostly empty (undefended) and mostly cut off from the rest of the US... but the expansion-desire from China may keep that in check. (It wouldn't do to gain Alaska and lose a giant portion of their mainland holdings.)
Israel, England, and France are probably the only friendly foreign [oversea] powers that might send aid -- of course that's a double-edged blade, if it's military aid they'll back the FedGov and be "fighting on the wrong side" -- but I doubt that they'd get involved militarily (Israel especially, considering where they are and their situation they need their fighting-forces accessible, not half a planet away).
I think most of the EU wouldn't care, considering their own problems and how on-the-hook they are with debt. The UN, on the other hand, might be tempted to send in peacekeeping forces... and if that's the case it'll probably shake some FedGov loyalties. It might even spark more of the general population to get involved... after all, foreign troops subjugating your fellow citizen is far less tolerable than federal troops firing on people under questionable circumstance/orders.
The whole situation smells of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" -- because if we don't have a civil war, then the fedgov really is all-powerful... and if we do we'll bleed, bleed, bleed. One of the things that it seems like, with the questionable Kabuki and recent actions in DC is that there's a bit of a script that goes like this: spark some violence, put it down QUICKLY, use that as an excuse to disarm the people, implement the more distasteful aspects of socialism and aristocracy (the governing elite being the new aristocracy) and burearchy (rule by bureaucrats).
A misstep [out of order] on any of those and the whole thing blows up in their faces.
Forgot Mexico. I think there would be a very strong chance of Mexican involvement along the border, either at the behest of 0 if still in office or of its own accord if CWII broke out under some future administration. They do have millions of national and ethnic loyalists already behind our lines.
Many in Japan feel the same way.
I think Japan should develop nuclear weapons of their own. In fact if they want some of ours we should sell them a few.
I agree, if Japan really wanted nukes they would go for the smaller uranium based bombs and load them on to their existing missiles systems.
Japan has all the technical and logical resources needed to become nuclear armed power. Of course anything they need we should provide.
I completely agree.
Japan is ignoring Washington because they know it has been taken over by lunatics.
Not many anti-nuke kooks understand the physics, but the production cycle for weapons-grade plutonium is optimized to get the most 239Pu and the least 240Pu. That means a relatively short irradiation time for the target material, followed by fairly prompt separation of the plutonium, and then re-use of the unconverted target material. The irradiation time for commercial fuel is too long, you get too much 240Pu and you can't separate that from the desirable 239Pu with chemical reprocessing.
Their plant may be CAPABLE of producing weapons-grade plutonium, but unless you have a fleet of dedicated production reactors operating on the optimized production cycle, like we did at Hanford in the 1940s-1970s, you aren't going to get any weapons-usable material. Used fuel from power plants is not the correct feedstock for producing weapons-grade plutonium.
If a modern civil war were to happen the first thing that would have to happen is the rebelling side would have to secure control of many states. This would have to have been done long before hostility’s started.
The State national guard would have to be purged of officers and by implication men who might choose Washington over their own neighbors. All that could be done well in advanced to hostility’s perhaps in expecting a conflict of interest.
However if hostilities start, the very first and most important objective of the rebel faction would be securing control of some nukes. If that’s not possible finding allies with the weapons would be the next highest priority. Indeed finding allies is a priority in itself eyther way.