Fact Sheet on U.S.-Russian
Production Reactor Agreement
Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation
The following fact sheet was released September 23,1997, by the
White House Office of the Vice President following the ninth meeting of
the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation,
also known as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission.
Several stylistic adjustments have been made to the text (fonts,
indentation, and internal linkages) to increase readibility on the
Vice President Al Gore notes the signature of the U.S.-Russian Plutonium Production
Reactor agreement. The major provisions of this ground breaking accord
are described below.
- Russia and the U.S. will not restart any of their plutonium
production reactors that have already been shut down. (In the U.S., all
14 such readers were shut down by 1989; in Russia, 10 of 13 have been
- Russia will convert by the year 2000, with U.S. assistance, its
three operating reactors so that they cease all production of
weapon-grade plutonium. Reactor modifications will also reduce the
residual quantity of non-weapon-grade plutonium each reactor produces to
a tiny fraction of the amount of plutonium previously produced.
- The converted reactors will be shut down at the end of their normal
lifetimes, consistent with prudent safety considerations.
- Plutonium produced henceforth until reactor conversion, and any
uranium recovered from the spent fuel of the converted reactors, will
not be used in nuclear weapons.
- Fresh fuel for the converted reactors will incorporate uranium
derived from dismantled nuclear weapons, helping to reduce that
stockpile as well.
- A Joint
Implementation and Compliance Commission will oversee implementation
of the agreement's provisions, resolve any issues that may arise, and
consider additional measures to promote the objectives of the agreement.
- For shutdown reactors, U.S. and Russian monitors will install and
periodically check seals or other monitoring equipment to provide
assurance that the reactors could not be restarted without detection.
- For converted reactors, U.S. monitors will measure random samples of
fresh fad to determine that the fuel is the intended type, and they will
install monitoring devices in the fuel discharge areas to ensure that
fuel is discharged only when scheduled. By ensuring that the agreed fuel
type and discharge schedule are used, they can ensure that the converted
reactors are no longer producing weapon-grade plutonium.
Russia will also declare annually the total mass of high-enriched
uranium derived from dismantled nuclear weapons that was used to make
fresh fuel for the converted reactors, and the ultimate destination and
intended use of any uranium they may recover from the spent fuel.
For plutonium produced prior to reactor conversion, i.e.,
weapon-grade plutonium, U.S. monitors will periodically check tags and
seals on containers in storage and measure randomly selected containers to
ensure that the material inside is indeed weapon-grade and newly produced.
The plutonium subject to such monitoring will include all such material
that is reprocessed in 1997 or thereafter (which will include Plutonium
produced since the beginning of 1995). The agreement specifies that the
total amount of such plutonium is estimated to be between 4.5 and 9 metric
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