To assure its neighbors and its allies that they have no intention of building nuclear weapons, Japan has announced that it is turning over the nuclear stockpile that is currently stored at a government facility for study. The United States has also pledged to help in the downgrading and disposal of the plutonium, a key ingredient that was used in creating atomic bombs.
The joint announcement was made at the start of the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague in Netherlands where the most powerful world leaders are in attendance. US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the separated plutonium as well as the highly enriched uranium will be removed from its current location at the Fast Critical Assembly at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency. It was stored there for study and analysis of the fast reactors which the government was looking into to possibly use for Japan’s power needs. The White House earlier made an announcement saying that there are now technological advances that would turn a research plant like this into one that will run on fuel that could not be used for nuclear weapons. The joint statement also said that they are disposing of this nuclear stockpile so that it will not fall into the hands of the wrong people, like criminals and terrorists. “This material, once securely transported to the United States, will be sent to a secure facility and fully converted into less sensitive forms,” the statement read.
China and South Korea had earlier expressed concerns over Japan, the only nation to have been victimized by atomic weapons, having such materials in their possession. South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, the host of the nuclear summit, said “well-known that terrorist groups have been keen on acquiring nuclear weapons and materials.” China said in February that they were “extremely concerned” to find out that Japan did not want to turn over the plutonium to the US. But both the US and the United Nations nuclear agency said that they did not have any doubts as to how Japan would handle such nuclear materials and did not share the concerns of the other East Asian nations.
[via NY Times]