Plutonium reprocessing, breeder reactors, and decades of debate: A Chinese response

By Hui Zhang, July 1, 2015

Some observers believe that plutonium reprocessing is on the verge of an expansion, while others argue that the end of the practice is in sight. The risk of nuclear proliferation has always been the chief objection to reprocessing but proponents argue that today, with uranium enrichment technology more easily available, reprocessing no longer represents an efficient route toward nuclear weapons. Supporters also tout the energy security that reprocessing could provide to nations without indigenous uranium sources and the reductions in high-level nuclear waste that reprocessing might achieve. Opponents counter that reprocessing offers only marginal benefits in waste reduction and in any event makes little economic sense. Here, Klaus Janberg of Germany (2015), Baldev Raj and P. R. Vasudeva Rao of India (2015), and Hui Zhang of China debate how nations—taking into account issues ranging from proliferation to waste to cost—should approach plutonium reprocessing.

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