U.S., Japan Seek To Bolster Safe Expansion of Nuclear Energy

Washington - The new United States-Japan Joint Nuclear Action Plan will contribute to increasing global energy security and address the issue of climate change by helping other countries safely expand their civilian energy sectors, says U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.

“By strengthening our joint cooperation in civil nuclear energy, the United States and Japan will also strengthen our strategic interests,” Bodman said in a press release April 25.  He added that the plan will help both nations “to align efforts to support the global expansion of nuclear energy, and ultimately a nuclear renaissance.”

Nuclear energy can serve as a clean and reliable source of power that can help meet the world’s increasing energy needs, he said. (See related article.)

The plan, a result of extensive, long-term negotiations, was signed April 18 and presented to President Bush and Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, on the eve of Abe’s visit to Washington April 26–27.

The provisions of the bilateral, U.S.-Japanese action plan fall within the framework the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), a part of President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative, according to an Energy Department press release.

GNEP seeks to expand the use of nuclear energy while promoting nuclear safety and nonproliferation. Under the partnership, countries with secure, advanced nuclear capabilities would provide “closed cycle” fuel services - deliveries of fresh fuel and recovery of used fuel - to other countries that would agree to use nuclear materials for power generation only.

The GNEP-relevant portion of the action plan will begin immediately and will concentrate on the development of long-term capabilities, including fast reactor technology, fuel cycle technology, advanced computer simulation of fuel procedures and reactor design, and nuclear waste management.

The plan formalizes long-standing cooperation between the two countries in civilian nuclear research and development, and nuclear nonproliferation. Both countries pledge to support the development of a safe global nuclear energy infrastructure and a mechanism to assure fuel supplies and agree to establish a joint working group to exchange views and information on each other’s nuclear power policies and programs.

The full text of the plan, a fact sheet and additional information on GNEP are available on the Energy Department Web site.

For more information, see Energy Policy.