A Japanese strategic uranium reserve: A safe and economic alternative to plutonium

Paul Leventhal, Steven Dolley, "A Japanese strategic uranium reserve: A safe and economic alternative to plutonium," Science & Global Security, 5, no. 1, (1994): 1-31.
Japan could acquire a 50-year reserve of low-enriched uranium fuel for its nuclear power plants at about half the cost of its plutonium program, providing energy security and major economic and political benefits. Fuel for light-water reactors made with plutonium costs four to eight times as much as conventional uranium fuel. Japan can develop a Strategic Uranium Reserve to address its energy security concerns and eliminate any need to proceed now with plutonium recycling with its many attendant costs and nuclear proliferation risks. Such a reserve could provide as much as a 50-year, energy-secure timeframe within which Japan could develop the commercial breeder reactor later on, if necessary. A discounted cash flow analysis demonstrates that, by developing a 50-year uranium reserve instead of a commercial plutonium and breeder program, Japan could save up to $22.7 billion. Savings would be greater (up to $38.4 billion) if an enriched-uranium reserve smaller than the extreme 50-year example or a reserve of natural uranium were acquired. The reserve would also make a major contribution to keeping the Asia-Pacific region free of weapons-usable nuclear materials.

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