Japan lets U.S. take control of nuclear stockpile

By Daniel S Levine,

Japan and the U.S. reached an agreement on Tokyo’s stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium, allowing Washington to take control of the material, which could be used to build several nuclear weapons.

The deal was announced just before a world summit on nuclear weapons and security at The Hague, reports The New York Times. It’s the biggest deal President Barack Obama has been able to make since he made it one of his goals to make sure the most dangerous materials were completely secure.

“This effort involves the elimination of hundreds of kilograms of nuclear material, furthering our mutual goal of minimizing stocks of HEU [highly enriched uranium] and separated plutonium worldwide, which will help prevent unauthorized actors, criminals, or terrorists from acquiring such materials,” a joint statement from Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe read, reports Reuters.

The two countries noted that once the material is taken to the U.S., they “will be sent to a secure facility and fully converted into less sensitive forms.”

In February, China had said that it was “extremely concerned” after it was reported that Japan was hesitant on a deal with the U.S. That response came in the middle of nuclear-armed China’s ongoing territorial dispute with Japan.

While the U.S. and Japan didn't specify how much material would exchange hands, the NY Times reported that officials said it could include 700 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium, along with an estimated 450 pounds of highly enriched uranium.

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