( RIA Novosti ) - Russia and the United States agreed on Monday to dispose of 34 metric tons of Russian weapon-grade plutonium, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said.
Under the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, the United States and Russia are obliged to each dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapon-grade plutonium in an effort to counter global nuclear proliferation. The agreement's implementation was previously delayed owing to disagreements between the parties.
"U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman and Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency Director Sergei Kiriyenko have signed a joint statement outlining a plan to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium from Russia's weapons program," the DOE said.
According to Bodman, the joint statement reflects measurable progress towards the disposing of a significant amount of weapon-grade plutonium in Russia.
"Along with the U.S. program to dispose of plutonium as mixed oxide fuel in light water reactors, the Russian program will ensure that enough plutonium for thousands of weapons is converted into a form that cannot be used to construct a weapon and will instead be used to provide fuel to produce clean electricity," Bodman said.
The United States and Russia agreed to use the BN-600 and BN-800 fast reactors to dispose of Russia's surplus weapons plutonium, the DOE said.
Under the plan, Russia would begin disposing of weapons plutonium in the BN-600 reactor by 2012. The BN-800 reactor would also be brought into use soon thereafter. Once the disposing of plutonium begins, the two reactors could dispose of approximately 1.5 metric tons of Russian weapons plutonium per year.