The United States has been pressuring Japan to return the 300 kg of plutonium that it exported during the Cold War in the 80s. The plutonium has been brought to Japan for research purposes and is currently housed at the fast critical assembly in Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture. The amount exported could theoretically produce 40 to 50 nuclear weapons.
Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is opposing the idea as they said that the kind of plutonium is needed for research to be able to produce good data. The Japanese Atomic Energy Agency, who owns the fast critical assembly where the chemical is stored, is the only facility able to study the characteristics of the fast reactors. While Japan has repeatedly rejected the U.S. demand, it was reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently agreed to return the exported chemical.
Just last year, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki sent an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama protesting the country’s nuclear experiments using the same type plutonium in question. Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui denounced the action as unacceptable saying that it’s the United States way of holding to its nuclear stockpile, which is in direct opposition of Obama’s call for a nuclear-free world in Prague in 2009. Discussions on the plutonium have been on going between the two nations since last year. The U.S., a known ally of Japan has been trying to finalize the return of the chemical before the third nuclear summit in Netherlands happening in March.
[via One India News]