International Cooperation in Nuclear Fuel Services

European and American Approaches

by Horst Mendershausen

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Discusses Western European international cooperation in production of nuclear fuel services, particularly multinational uranium enrichment, spent fuel reprocessing, plutonium production for and by breeder reactors, and waste disposal. Current American policy is aimed at a "once-through" fuel use, and the Nuclear Proliferation Act of 1978 makes U.S. nuclear materials and services dependent on the recipient's abstention from "sensitive facilities" for enrichment, reprocessing, and plutonium utilization. Policies of the European nuclear energy countries are directed toward reprocessing of spent uranium, using recovered fuel in power reactors, and permanent disposal of those wastes no longer useful. The Europeans reject the "supply-for-abstention" bargain offered by the United States. This study reviews the evolution of American views, and experiences of such European ventures as Eurochemic, Urenco, Eurodif, and United Reprocessors. The author concludes that multinational fuel enterprise schemes offer little promise for resolving this dispute over countries' rights to "sensitive facilities."

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