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U.S.-Russian Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement

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International Panel on Fissile Materials obtained the text of the 2000 U.S.-Russian Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) as amended by the 2010 Protocol, signed on April 13, 2010 (and agreed upon in 2007). Comparison of the amended agreement with the original 2000 version of the document shows a number of notable changes. Most of them reflect the shift away from immobilization in the United States and the renewed U.S. commitment to provide financial support for the Russian program (these were discussed earlier).

A number of provisions regulate operations of Russia's fast neutron BN-600 and BN-800 reactors, as well as issues related to reprocessing of the spent fuel used in the reactors, whether fast-neutron or light-water ones, that will participate in the program.

To ensure that the Russian fast-neutron BN reactors do not produce new plutonium, the protocol has the following provision added (Article III.3):

The radial blanket of the BN-600 reactor will be completely removed before disposition of conversion product begins in it, and the BN-800 will be operated with a breeding ratio of less than one for the entire term of this Agreement.

In the amended protocol, reprocessing of the spent fuel that used conversion plutonium is not prohibited, although it cannot begin until the parties complete disposition of their material (Article VI.3). However, reprocessing of the uranium fuel of BN-600 and light water reactors is permitted as long as " this does not result in the accumulation of new separated weapon-grade plutonium." Up to 30 percent of plutonium fuel assemblies of BN-800 or light-water reactors can also be reprocessed for research purposes, as long as they don't contain disposition plutonium and the reprocessing does not lead to accumulation of new weapon-grade plutonium (Article VI.4).

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