Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The nuclear option

Reuters' Tom Doggett is reporting that next month the Bush Administration will ask for money to restart a long abandoned program to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. Apparently this is part of Bush's Twelve Step Program to Cure our Oil Addiction -- by promoting nuclear power. Originally scheduled to be announced in the State of the Union address, it was scrapped allegedly because the details weren't ready. Or maybe because they wanted to get it under the radar screen, not on the TV screen.
The administration plans to ask in its 2007 budget next month for $250 million so the Department of Energy can develop new ways to reprocess nuclear fuel to make it harder to use its plutonium byproduct in nuclear weapons, the source said.

"We expect (the) nuclear recycling program to be reflected in DOE's budget," the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the proposal. An administration official said a consensus stance had been reached regarding reprocessing, but declined to provide details.

The United States stopped recycling nuclear fuel in the 1970s because it was too expensive and there was concern terrorist groups or rogue nations could get access to plutonium and make nuclear bombs. (Reuters)
Gee, I'm glad the threat of terrorists and rogue nations has decreased so significantly since the 1970s we don't have to worry about it any more. I guess 9/11 did change everything. President Carter (himself a nuclear engineer) instituted the reprocessing ban in the 1970s, but it was lifted by Reagan and reinstituted by Clinton. Is there a pattern here?
"We've been talking with a number of countries about how to move forward on expanding nuclear energy to meet our global energy needs," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.

"It's an energy source that is clean ... it helps us address our energy and national security need," he said. "The president is very focused on this matter."
I wonder if North Korea or Iran were among the countries Bush was talking to about it. I understand they are interested in the same thing.