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Japan moves to construct controversial Pu facility

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(November 18, 1994) Japanese authorities have moved to gain permission to begin construction at a plutonium facility which will use technology which is under investigation by the U.S. government. The 60 day U.S. investigation was launched on September 8, 1994, after Greenpeace released a paper, "The Unlawful Plutonium Alliance", documenting that the plant would use sensitive nuclear technology which should not have been exported from the U.S. to Japan (see WISE NC 419.4148).

(422.4178) WISE Amsterdam - The move to get construction permission was confirmed on October 24, during a briefing given by Greenpeace to members of the Japanese Parliament, the Diet. During the briefing, industry officials were questioned about their response to allegations that the planned Recycle Equipment Test Facility (RETF) plutonium reprocessing plant would contain technology transferred from the U.S. nuclear weapons material production program. The officials would make no comment on whether or not sensitive nuclear technology had been transferred despite national and international prohibitions. But, they were forced to con-firm that on October 11, the PNC (Japanese Power Reactor & Nuclear Fuel Development Corp.) had formally requested permission to begin construction at the RETF site.

The timing of the request suggests that Japanese authorities are prepared to move ahead with construction of the RETF plutonium plant before U.S. authorities have concluded their investigation. "This is both a disrespectful and provocative act," said Greenpeace spokeswoman Emi Ueno. "It is clear that no decisions about the future of this plutonium plant should be made until after the completion of public investigations in the U.S. and Japan. Rushing ahead will only suggest that authorities have something to hide and wish to make plant construction an irrevocable act."

The RETF is a specialized "re-processing" plant at which plutonium would be separated from fuel and "blanket material" coming from Japan's two experimental fast breeder reactors: Joyo and Monju. Plutonium separated at RETF would be of 'super' weapons grade; the material would be particularly usable in small quantities for the Construction of advanced nuclear weapons. The only reprocessing plants of this type have been in the nuclear weapons states.

Source: Greenpeace Press Release; Greennet, 24 October, 1994
Contact: Emi Ueno, Greenpeace Japan: Tel: + 81-3-5351.5400
or Shaun Burnie, Greenpeace International: Keizersgracht 176, 1016 DW Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Tel: + 31-20-523.6555