U.S. contribution to Russia's plutonium disposition program

The United States confirms its commitment to support Russia's plutonium disposition program. According to the 2000 U.S.-Russian Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (local pdf), Russia and the United State made a commitment to dispose of at least 34 tonnes of weapon-grade plutonium each. In November 2007 the two countries signed a statement that confirmed the commitment and specified funding arrangements. The United States agreed to provide $400 million in support of a range of activities associated with burning of Pu in Russia's fast breeder reactors:

modifying the existing BN-600 MOX fuel fabrication facility at the Research Institute for Atomic Reactors (RIAR [NIIAR]), fabricating and installing non-plutonium breeding assemblies in the BN-600 to replace the plutonium breeding blanket assemblies, modifying the BN-600 reactor so it can be used to irradiate MOX fuel, modifying facilities to fabricate MOX fuel for the BN-800, and implementing a monitoring and inspection (M&I) regime at Russian disposition facilities to provide confidence that Russia is disposing of 34 MT of surplus weapon-grade plutonium.

The FY2011 NNSA budget request allocates $100 million toward this commitment. The November 2007 agreement is not yet final - a formal Protocol to amend the 2000 agreement has been negotiated and is expected to be signed in early 2010 (pp. 394, 396).

The total cost of the Russian plutonium disposition program, is estimated to be at least $2.4 billion. It is expected that the balance of funding will be covered by Russia and, potentially, by non-U.S. government contributions (p. 396).

In addition to this funding, the United States agreed to contribute to the cost of the Gas Turbine-Modular Helium Reactor (GT-MHR) research and development project in Russia (p. 396). The reactor, if built in time, could also be used for plutonium disposition. The FY2011 budget request includes $5.0 million for this project.

The Russian Surplus Fissile Material Disposition project also requested $8.0 million to be spent in the United States. This means that the total amount requested for the program in FY2011 is $113 million.