広島平和科学 40巻
2019-03 発行

ロシア解体核兵器の「平和利用」 : 「 メガトンからメガワット計画」再訪

The “Peaceful Use” of Disassembled Russian Nuclear Weapons: Revisiting the “Megatons to Megawatts Program”
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The political and social turmoil following the collapse of the Soviet Union concerned international society over whether dismantlement and disposal of the Russian nuclear weapons could be safely completed. Accordingly, Russia and the United States, until recently, were involved in the joint program to use High Enrichment Uranium (HEU) retrieved from dismantled nuclear warheads for “peaceful uses.” In this “Megatons to Megawatts program,” Russia downblended 500 ton of HEU into Low Enrichment Uranium (LEU) and exported it to the United States for twenty years from 1994. Reportedly, as much as 10 % of all electricity produced in the U.S. came from these former Russian nuclear arsenals. In an economic crisis, the Russian government sought cash to pay its debts, even using their dismantled nuclear weapons for this purpose. In return, the U.S. purchased Russian LEU (from 20,000 nuclear warheads) for nuclear non-proliferation. Simultaneously, the U.S. blocked the Russian regular LEU obtained from natural uranium ore, from the American uranium market, to protect their domestic uranium mining industry. Now that Russia has recovered from its economic crisis, it does not need to live hand to mouth. The Russian government lost interest in the continuation of the “Megatons to Megawatts program” after 2014, when the program was terminated. Moscow now found it more attractive to sell regular LEU from natural uranium ore in their emerging nuclear market.
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