News Item: Canada Mulls Taking Russian Plutonium
From: "Moza" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ezekiel 39 speaks about the Gog/Magog war and states that the weapons used in this war will be used for fuel after the war. The following article discusses Canada taking Russia's plutonium off warheads to burn in nuclear reactors.
Canada Mulls Taking Russian Plutonium
OTTAWA, Mar. 24, 1999 -- (Reuters) Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, wading into a sensitive environmental debate, said on Tuesday he had told U.S. President Bill Clinton Canada would consider importing plutonium from Russian nuclear warheads.
The debate turns on whether Canada should take the risk of importing radioactive material to help Russia dismantle its huge stock of nuclear weaponry.
"I wrote a letter, and I said that if it was safe and if it was financially possible, that we would consider (it)," Chretien told reporters after meeting his cabinet.
Chretien sent the letter on March 3 in response to a letter Clinton sent on Jan. 21 calling for an international partnership with former Soviet states to address high-priority arms control and nonproliferation issues.
"One particular area in which Canada is considering participation is plutonium disposition. As you know, we are prepared to consider any safe and financially viable proposal based on an agreement between the United States and Russia in this regard," Chretien wrote the President.
"I can assure you that we share your concerns about the need to dispose of the material resulting from warhead dismantlement."
The CTV television network broke the story and provided a copy of the letter.
In Parliament, the leftist New Democratic Party's Svend Robinson demanded: "Doesn't this prime minister understand that Canadians don't want our country to become a dumping ground for the world's Cold War plutonium?"
Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy responded that Canada has made no commitment except to test a small amount of plutonium -- about the size of a double-A battery, he said -- to determine the feasibility of burning it in nuclear reactors.
"But one of the most serious problems we face in the world is nuclear proliferation, and one way we can help it is to burn up the warheads that Russia wants to destroy," he added.
"We live in a dangerous nuclear world. We have some responsibility to help in the denuclearizing of that world."
The plutonium would be blended with uranium in a concoction called Mixed Oxide Fuel. A research report by Canada's Library of Parliament said Canada's CANDU reactors would be able to consume MOX without any physical modifications.
The United States and Russia each has about 50 tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium from dismantled nuclear warheads.
In a report in December, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, the Canadian Parliament's elected chamber, opposed the idea of importing the plutonium as "totally unfeasible."
Axworthy told the House on Tuesday that by May 10 the committee would receive a formal response that would show how the government proposed to proceed.
David Martin, research director for the Nuclear Awareness Project, declared Canada would end up with highly radioactive nuclear waste it would have to store at taxpayer expense.
"At the back end of the whole thing is the waste issue," he told Reuters. "That is not only a problem in itself, but also the precedent is that Canada would be for the first time, in effect, accepting (nuclear) waste from international military nuclear programs here in Canada. And part of the deal here is it stays here." ( (c) 1999 Reuters)