Quotable quotes − reprocessing, proliferation and reactor-grade plutonium

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#763
13/06/2013
Article

"The three practical skill sets common to both nuclear energy and nuclear weapons research programmes are nuclear physics, radiochemistry and metallurgy. High performance computing and fluid dynamics mathemat-ical modelling skills are also useful from a design standpoint. In particular, the same practical metallurgical and radiochemical expertise needed to fabricate and reprocess nuclear fuel rods can be readily applied to the extraction, purification, alloying and shaping of the plutonium component of a nuclear warhead."
− Ian Jackson, 2009, 'Nuclear energy and proliferation risks: myths and realities in the Persian Gulf', International Affairs, 85:6, pp.1157–1172, http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/International%20A...

"Under NPT rules, there is nothing illegal about any State having enrichment or reprocessing technology − processes that are basic to the production and recycling of nuclear reactor fuel − even though these operations can also produce the high enriched uranium or separated plutonium that can be used in a nuclear weapon. An increasing number of countries have sought to master these parts of the "nuclear fuel cycle", both for economic reasons and, in some cases, as a good insurance policy for a rainy day − a situation that would enable them to develop at least a crude nuclear weapon in a short span of time, should their security outlook change."
− Then IAEA Director-General Dr Mohamed El Baradei, 25 March 2006, www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Statements/2006/ebsp2006n004.html

"Reprocessing provides the strongest link between commercial nuclear power and proliferation."
– US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 'Nuclear proliferation and safeguards', June 1977, p.12.

"As we see it, however, the world is not now safe for a rapid global expansion of nuclear energy. Such an expansion carries with it a high risk of misusing uranium enrichment plants and separated plutonium to create bombs.'"
– Editorial - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 14 January 2010, www.thebulletin.org/content/media-center/announcements/2010/01/14/it-6-m...

"All nuclear fuel cycles involve fuels that contain weapon-usable materials that can be obtained through a relatively straightforward chemical separation process. ... In fact, any group that could make a nuclear explosive with weapon-grade plutonium would be able to make an effective device with reactor-grade plutonium. ... The main alternative to the once-through cycle involves the separation and recycling of the plutonium and uranium in the spent fuel. Not only is separation and recycle more expensive, it increases greatly the opportunities for theft and diversion of plutonium."
− Steve Fetter, Stanford University's Centre for International Security and Cooperation, 1999, 'Climate Change and the Transformation of World Energy Supply', cisac.stanford.edu/publications/10228

"At the lowest level of sophistication, a potential proliferating state or subnational group using designs and technologies no more sophisticated than those used in first-generation nuclear weapons could build a nuclear weapon from reactor-grade plutonium that would have an assured, reliable yield of one or a few kilotons (and a probable yield significantly higher than that). ... In short, reactor-grade plutonium is weapons-usable, whether by unsophisticated proliferators or by advanced nuclear weapon states."
− US Department of Energy, 1997, Office of Arms Control and Nonproliferation, 'Final Nonproliferation and Arms Control Assessment of Weapons-Usable Fissile Material Storage and Excess Plutonium Disposition Alternatives', www.ccnr.org/plute.html

"On the basis of advice provided to it by its Member States and by the Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation (SAGSI), the Agency considers high burn-up reactor-grade plutonium and in general plutonium of any isotopic composition with the exception of plutonium containing more than 80 percent Pu-238 to be capable of use in a nuclear explosive device. There is no debate on the matter in the Agency's Department of Safeguards."
− Hans Blix, then IAEA Director General, 1 November 1990, Letter to the Nuclear Control Institute, Washington DC. See also Nuclear Fuel, 12 November 1990, 'Blix Says IAEA Does Not Dispute Utility of Reactor-Grade Pu for Weapons'.

"There is clear scientific evidence behind the assertion that nuclear weapons can be made from weapons-grade and reactor-grade plutonium."
− US Office of Arms Control and Nonproliferation, US Department of Energy, quoted in Steven Dolley, 28 March 1997, 'Using warhead plutonium as reactor fuel does not make it unusable in nuclear bombs', www.nci.org/i/ib32897c.htm