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U.S. makes request regarding Japan’s plutonium stockpile

Sunday’s Nikkei led with a report saying that it learned from a source on Saturday that ahead of the expected extension of the U.S.-Japan bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement next month, the U.S. National Security Council has asked Japan to appropriately use and control its plutonium stockpile, including setting a cap on it and announcing plans for its reduction. The paper wrote that although plutonium production is banned in principle to prevent nations from producing nuclear weapons, under the bilateral pact energy-poor Japan has been allowed to extract the material when reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. The paper speculated that the United States may have made the request ahead of its planned summit with the DPRK on June 12, during which it plans to urge North Korea to denuclearize completely, in response to the international community’s firm position on nuclear nonproliferation. The daily wrote that Japan’s energy policy may face a turning point if Washington urges Tokyo to review the bilateral accord due to Japan’s failure to reduce its plutonium stockpile because that would make it difficult for Japan to continue reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.

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