NUCLEAR, BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS
2008: Russia has shut down two of its
three plutonium producing nuclear reactors this year. These are special
reactors, which together produced about a ton of weapons-grade plutonium each
year. That's enough for 100-200 nuclear weapons. In addition, these reactors
provide electricity for the isolated (and top secret during Soviet times)
Siberian towns they were in. That's why it took so long to shut them down. The
Russian government stopped buying the plutonium in the early 1990s and the U.S.
(and several other Western nations) put up over a billion dollars to tear down
the plutonium producing plants, and replace them with non-nuclear power plants.
The third plutonium plant will close in two years, when its non-nuclear
replacement is on line.
the U.S. has about 115 tons of weapons grade plutonium on hand, while the
Russians have 154 tons. Both nations have agreed to dispose (turn into nuclear
plant fuel or lock it away somewhere) 75 tons of that.