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Posted : 2012-03-29 18:14
Updated : 2012-03-29 18:14

Atomic power plants key to reducing weapons-usable nuclear material: official

Atomic power plants contribute to reducing weapons-usable nuclear material around the world, a senior presidential official said Thursday, stressing it is unreasonable for anti-nuclear weapons activists to oppose atomic power generation.

Highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium can be used to build nuclear weapons, but they are also used to fuel atomic power plants. About 1,600 tons of HEU and 500 tons of plutonium remain around the world, an amount enough for about 126,000 nuclear weapons.

During the Nuclear Security Summit held in Seoul earlier this week, dozens of world leaders renewed their commitment to make efforts to reduce and secure such nuclear materials so as to keep them from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

Suggested ways included converting HEU-based reactors to use safer, low-enriched uranium as fuel.

During the conference, some activists staged protests to oppose nuclear power.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stressed that it makes no sense for activists, opposed to nuclear weapons, to raise objections against atomic power generation, which helps reduce dangerous, weapons-usable nuclear materials.

"We have to use nuclear power generation to exhaust existing nuclear material," the official said. "HEU and plutonium can't be disposed of by burial, and burning them is the surest way to dispose of them ... To this end, we have to continue atomic power generation."

Over the past 10 years, the United States has used HEU from nuclear warheads, dismantled under an agreement with Russia, for about half of the total fuel needed for its atomic power plants, the official said.

"We have to continue to dispose of HEU in the future by burning it at nuclear power plants," the official said. "It is illogical to say that nuclear security increases when there are no atomic power plants." (Yonhap)
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