First published in 1997, this volume observes that of all the materials, systems and facilities that designed and operated nuclear weapons, the most readily available assets for reuse are often identified as the highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium from warheads. However, proliferation concerns the reuse of much of this material unlikely. This book explores the economic issues surrounding the major expenditures facing the US as it attempts to dispose of weapon-grade nuclear materials in a proliferation-resistant manner. The book discusses the economic values of plutonium and HEU, the economic nature of the nuclear industry, reprocessing and operations costs, the economics of ‘burning’ plutonium to generate electrical power, the economics of down-blending and ‘burning’ HEU, military conversion as a rationale for selecting plutonium disposition options, the economics of transmutation, and the economics of other proposals ranging from monitored surface storage to vitrification. The book concludes by identifying the major cost drivers affecting all disposition options.
Table of Contents
1. Economic Issues and the Disposition of Weapon-Grade Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium. 2. The Economic Value of Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium. 3. Disposition Quantities of Surplus Materials. 4. The Economic Nature of the US Commercial Nuclear Industry and the Use of Downblended HEU as Reactor Fuel. 5. The Impact of Reprocessing on Disposition. 6. Disposition Through MOX Burning: Fabrication and Operations Issues. 7. Burning Plutonium in Reactors: Implications for Disposition. 8. A Comparison of Proposals for Disposition of Plutonium from Warheads. 9. Conclusion: the Major Cost Drivers in Disposition.