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Trump Administration Proposes Dangerous Cuts in Nuclear Security Programs, But Sensibly Proposes End to Runaway MOX Facility — 

For Immediate Use

May 23, 2017

Press Contact: Grecia Cosio, Coordinator for the Fissile Materials Working Group; gcosio@partnershipforglobalsecurity.org

 

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the Trump administration unveiled its proposed FY 2018 budget, continuing a trend of dangerous cuts to programs designed to secure vulnerable nuclear materials.

The proposed budget cuts International Nuclear Security by 58% and Nuclear Material Removal by 74% below what those programs intended to spend in 2018, hampering efforts to prevent non-state actors from getting their hands on nuclear weapons material.

“There is still a great deal to be done to keep terrorists from getting the essential ingredients of nuclear or radiological bombs.  U.S. nuclear security programs should be strengthened and revitalized, not savagely cut, as this budget proposes,” said Matthew Bunn, professor of practice and head of Harvard’s Project on Managing the Atom.

However, the budget does take a positive step by terminating the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility and invests $9 million to pursue the “dilute and dispose” alternative.

For several years, nuclear material security experts have raised concerns over the runaway costs and security risks of the unfinished MOX facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and have advocated for a more achievable and efficient way of disposing of plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons— dilute and dispose method.

“The dilute and dispose process is far more secure than the MOX approach because it is simpler and will provide fewer opportunities for terrorists to divert or steal U.S. weapons plutonium,” said Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Last year, the Obama administration also attempted to terminate the MOX facility but Congress, led by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), authorized $340 million for continuing construction on the MOX facility.

“In a tight budget environment, Congress should be spending money in ways that will truly enhance national security, not waste money on pork-barrel funding. The Trump administration should be commended for this action which was also supported by President Obama,“ said Fissile Materials Working Group Chair Miles Pomper, a senior fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

 

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The Fissile Materials Working Group (FMWG) is a coalition of 80 civil society organizations from around the world working to provide actionable policy solutions to keep the world safe from nuclear terrorism.