By Victor Beattie
March 24, 2014
On the sidelines of the 53-nation nuclear security summit at The Hague Monday, Japan announced it is transferring hundreds of kilograms of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium used for research to the United States to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.
Yosuke Isozaki, the national security adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, says the announcement not only strengthens counter measures against nuclear terrorism, it minimizes the presence of nuclear material worldwide.
The New York Times reports the material, enough to build dozens of nuclear weapons, is seen as a success in President Obama’s effort to secure the world’s most dangerous materials. It says, since Mr. Obama began a series of international meetings on the issue, 13 nations have eliminated their caches of nuclear materials and scores have hardened security at their storage facilities to prevent theft by potential terrorists.
The material, which is of American and British origin, is being removed from the Fast Critical Assembly under supervision of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). While Japan, a victim of two atomic bombings, maintains a long held policy of not developing atomic weapons, it will continue to possess a stockpile of lower-grade material for use in the country’s nuclear power stations. Those reactors have largely been idle since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
China has expressed concern over Japan’s possession of weapons-grade nuclear materials and urged Tokyo to explain why it has such a stockpile. Last week, China’s Vice Foreign Minister (Li Baodong) urged Tokyo to take “substantial action” to eliminate the worries of the international community.
Duyeon Kim, senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, told VOA’s Victor Beattie the U.S./Japan agreement is significant: