Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)
GNEP, announced by the United States Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman on February 6, 2006, seeks to both enhance energy security and reduce environmental impact through the development of advanced technologies for peaceful nuclear power generation. The 21 participating countries, of which Japan and the U.S. are major contributors, are working to develop consensus on expanding clean nuclear power worldwide by establishing reliable fuel services, supporting deployment of grid-appropriate reactors, and recycling spent fuel to reduce proliferation risks and minimize waste. The generation of nuclear energy produces virtually no greenhouse gas emissions.
By reprocessing spent fuel, uranium and plutonium are separated from the waste products of nuclear power generation and can be recombined into useable fuel. This allows for greater energy output from raw material input and minimizes nuclear waste that would otherwise eventually have to be stored for decades underground. Moreover, using plutonium as fuel reduces the risk of it falling into the hands of a rogue nation or terrorist group for use in producing nuclear weapons. However, instead of producing pure plutonium as a byproduct of the recycling process, GNEP hopes to develop a diluted type of plutonium that may still be used for fuel but cannot be used for weapons production.
The international partnership is part of the Advanced Energy Initiative announced by President Bush in his 2006 State of the Union address. Japan was the first nation to endorse the GNEP and has since embarked on a joint civil nuclear energy action plan with the United States to collaborate in the climate/energy arena and specifically to support the research and development activities of the GNEP.