We appreciate the concern expressed by Secretary Kerry last week for the broader international implications of walking away from the U.S. nonproliferation commitment to permanently dispose of surplus nuclear weapon-grade plutonium through the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF), generally called the MOX Project.
As shown in the video below, Secretary Kerry was responding to information provided by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) about the Obama Administration’s FY 2015 budget proposal to Congress to minimally fund the more than 60% constructed MFFF, subjecting the project to “cold-standby” stagnation while re-examining previously considered options.
This uncertainty in our nonproliferation agreement with Russia comes at a sensitive time in world affairs, especially since it heightens the juxtaposition with the fourth anniversary of the nonproliferation protocol signed between then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the first Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010. This protocol amending the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) of 2000 specifies that the United States will dispose of no less than 34 metric tons of surplus weapon plutonium by irradiating the plutonium as MOX fuel in nuclear power reactors.
The proposed MFFF cold-standby places into question the U.S. commitment to global nuclear nonproliferation only a week before the Administration leads the international summit on nuclear nonproliferation and terrorism at the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague, March 24-25. President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are among the world leaders scheduled to participate. Abandoning the MOX Project will leave the U.S. with no timely cost-efficient alternative to honor the nonproliferation agreement. Selecting another option that does not honor the PMDA will require the U.S. to renegotiate with Russia.
Congressman Wilson and at least seven U.S. Senators have recognized that—to honor our existing nonproliferation commitment—we must complete the MOX Project.