Japan’s Plutonium Rose 2.9 Tons in 2013

Japan possessed about 47.1 tons of plutonium in and outside the country as of the end of 2013, up some 2.9 tons from the year before, the Cabinet Office said Tuesday.

Newly added were 2.3 tons generated through the spent fuel reprocessing outsourced to Britain and 640 kilograms Japan had not reported to the global watchdog for being unused even though loaded into a commercial reactor and faced criticism.

Japan upholds a nuclear fuel recycle policy, under which plutonium extracted by reprocessing conventional uranium fuel is consumed by existing reactors in the form of plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel. But its feasibility remains uncertain as the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis heightened public concerns over the use of nuclear power.

A further increase in plutonium could raise concerns in the international community for its potential for diversion to nuclear weapons.

In June, Japan was found to have failed to include the 640 kg of unused plutonium in its annual report to the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2012 and 2013 in what experts said was an inappropriate omission.

The plutonium was contained in MOX fuel loaded in March 2011 into the No. 3 reactor of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear plant in southwestern Japan during its regular checkup, but has been left there unused as the reactor could not restart following the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi complex.

The Japan Atomic Energy Commission, which is in charge of the issue, insisted at that time that fuel inside reactors has been treated as “being used” and hence exempt from reporting to the IAEA.

Of the 47 tons of plutonium Japan owns, about 10.8 tons have been stored in the country and the remaining portion kept in Britain and France, where spent nuclear fuel from Japanese power plants has been reprocessed.

via Mainichi

This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

Alfonso Esparza

Alfonso Esparza

Senior Currency Analyst at Market Pulse
Alfonso Esparza specializes in macro forex strategies for North American and major currency pairs. Upon joining OANDA in 2007, Alfonso Esparza established the MarketPulseFX blog and he has since written extensively about central banks and global economic and political trends. Alfonso has also worked as a professional currency trader focused on North America and emerging markets. He has been published by The MarketWatch, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Globe and Mail, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Bloomberg and BNN. He holds a finance degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) and an MBA with a specialization on financial engineering and marketing from the University of Toronto.
Alfonso Esparza