Plunge Pontificates

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

More Proof of Nuclear Weapons Program in Japan?

Stratfor offers some interesting insight into this issue.

Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL), operator of the $18.6 billion Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, said March 29 that it has reached an agreement with the government of Aomori prefecture to begin extraction of plutonium waste from spent nuclear fuel. This extraction will be the first step of an experimental program allowing JNFL to manufacture plutonium-uranium mixed-oxide fuel (MOX). The firm plans to begin supplying this MOX to a mix of Japanese nuclear reactors, probably numbering 18, beginning in April 2012.

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The MOX facilities, however, would allow a more stealthy approach to a nuclear weapons program. By establishing a steady supply of plutonium, Japan could likely launch a large-scale plutonium-based weapons program in a matter of days, attracting only minimal scrutiny. Japan is not about to slam broadside into the international community by pursuing such a weapons program, much less cause mushroom clouds to sprout overnight here and there, but the MOX program will allow it to do so should Tokyo's politics change. And with Japan steadily whittling away at the constitutional restrictions requiring its foreign policy to proceed along pacifist lines, this ability is bound to make Japan's Asian neighbors more than a little nervous.
They are creeping closer and closer...