By Katherine Berezowskyj
Today at the National Press Club, Sen. Pete Domenici called on U.S. leadership to really engage and begin work on the question of used nuclear fuel. Domenici declared that “the United States lags in the development and deployment of new nuclear technologies.” In particular, he asserted that:
“America is stalled in thinking about used nuclear fuel. Other countries have developed, or are in advanced stages of developing, strategies to address waste and non-proliferation concerns. Countries like France and Japan have been applying recycling technology to reduce waste volume by 75 percent or more. They have been tackling this challenge for years. We are stuck in policies that are more than 30 years old.”
Domenici called for a waste management strategy to concentrate on the “deployment of a strong domestic capability [that] is necessary to provide the foundation for the United States to participate in any meaningful way in the global management of used nuclear fuel.”
Building recycling infrastructure is important for non-proliferation initiatives like the 123 Agreement with the United Arab Emirates. To develop its own nuclear energy program, the U.A.E. has agreed to not pursue uranium enrichment or to recycle the used fuel. According to Domenici, “this is a model that, with modifications, may work in future agreements with other nations. However, this model requires adequate international infrastructure to responsibly manage used fuel through arrangements for take-back, treatment, recycling, and storage of spent fuel. America’s present domestic policy is out of step with our demonstrated technology and scientific abilities.”
Domenici is challenging the United States to jumpstart our domestic resurgence and provide credible international leadership-”The global resurgence of nuclear power is a reality. We need to recognize that and provide leadership in the areas of non-proliferation and waste treatment.”
You can find the full text of his speech here on the Bipartisan Policy Center site.