Monday, January 27, 2014

The Obama Administration Demands Japan to Return 300kg of Weapon-Grade Plutonium the US Sent During Cold War Era .... Could the saber rattling of PM Abe have made the US nervous he might be inclined to use some of that weapon grade plutonium against a certain nuclear power in Asia ? Does Japan already have a hidden nuclear weapon capability - sure seems like the potential to produce weapons exist ( as many as 40 - 50 bombs ! )


The Obama Administration Demands Japan to Return 300kg of Weapon-Grade Plutonium the US Sent During Cold War Era

First it was the "disappointment" expressed by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy representing the United States Government that spooked Japanese. It was over the Yasukuni Shrine visit by the prime minister of Japan.

Then it was the United States Government's official stance as expressed also by Ambassador Kennedy that she and her government oppose a particular traditional way of fishing dolphins and whales in Japan. It delighted non-Japanese, pleased some Japanese, angered some more, puzzled many who wondered aloud, "Isn't there a more pressing issue between the US and Japan than a method of fishing?"

Now comes this, tad more relevant and contemporary than both from the US government, perhaps.

From Business Standard, quoting Kyodo News (1/27/2014):
US presses Japan to hand back 300 kg of plutonium

Japan's key ally the US has been pressing the country to return more than 300 kg of mostly weapon-grade plutonium that it exported to Japan for research purposes during the Cold War era, media reported.

The plutonium that is stored at a fast critical assembly in Tokaimura in Japan's Ibaraki prefecture could be used to produce 40-50 nuclear weapons, reported Japan's Kyodo News, citing unnamed Japanese and US government officials, according to Xinhua.

Japan has strongly resisted the demand raised by US President Barack Obama's administration, but it finally gave in to repeated demands, Kyodo said.

The two countries since last year have been seriously discussing the issue as the US plans to reach an accord with Japan at the third nuclear security summit in March in the Netherlands, according to the report.

The fast critical assembly belonging to the Japan Atomic Energy Agency is the country's only critical assembly designed to study characteristics of fast reactors.

The Japanese ministry of education, culture, sports, science and technology and other researchers have argued that the plutonium in question is needed for research and vital for producing good data, said Kyodo.

At present, Japan has another estimated 44 tonnes of plutonium, but its quality is not on par with the plutonium used for research purposes, Kyodo quoted a Japanese expert as saying.

In East Asia, China possesses nuclear weapons. So does North Korea, who has restarted its gas-graphite reactor for plutonium production. Instead of doing something about them and their programs first, the Obama administration has been demanding the return of weapon-grade plutonium that the US sent to Japan as part of "Atoms for Peace" initiatives.

The original Kyodo News in Japanese says that "the Obama administration considers 'nuclear security' important". If that's the case, why has that administration who considers 'nuclear security' important allowed the detailed information (such as the amount of plutonium, number of nuclear bombs that could be made) to leak to the media?
Why now? Something doesn't add up. I wonder if the existence in Japan of 300 kilograms of weapon-grade plutonium has served as some kind of deterrent against an aggressive nation or two. Now the cover is blown.