The Mainichi has uncovered secret government documents that prove the US and deputy DOE secretary Danial Poneman put intense pressure on Japan to continue the plutonium fuel MOX program in Japan. The documents clearly show the US is pressuring Japan to continue with the MOX fuel cycle program, something the US has failed to do themselves. The US has claimed the concern to be that the plutonium would be diverted to military use. Japan has a massive amount of spent nuclear fuel, more than they could ever realistically use through reprocessing into MOX. The US stance also ignores the prospect of vitrification, a technology that encases the material in a glass substance rendering it unusable for weapons.
The US is still struggling to create an operating vitrification plant at the Hanford nuclear site but France has two functioning vitrification plants.
This US pressure on Japan likely also plays a role in the government insistence that they continue to operate reactors in the quake prone country. Why the US insists that another sovereign country continue to do something so dangerous and publicly unpopular has issues beyond just nuclear weapons concerns. Poneman had previously insisted Japan continue to run the failed Monju nuclear reactor that has now been found to have more than 12,000 skipped inspections. He also was behind an effort to keep putting money into a MOX plant in the US even though no nuclear plants are willing or able to use the fuel.
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