Vice President Al Gore, on the eve of the United Nations Millennium
Mazola Party, committed the United States to the U.S.-Russia Plutonium
Disposition Agreement. Aside from a slight constitutional problem — he
isn’t President, yet — you may wonder, “What’s wrong with Gore’s
Plutonium Disposition Agreement?”
Remember that Congress (in particular, Sens. Nunn and Lugar, who have
just been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize) authorized President Bush
in 1992 to assist the Russians get rid of excess weapons-useable
plutonium and highly-enriched uranium (HEU). The Russians expected to
recover that material by dismantling about 20,000 Soviet nukes. The
Russians had already decided that they would blend all their
weapons-useable plutonium and HEU down and burn it up as mixed-oxide
(MOX) reactor fuel. It was the administration-congressional consensus
that it was in our national security interests to help them do that.
But about that time, the American people, at the urging of Ross
Perot, replaced George Bush with Bill Clinton. President Clinton and
Boris Yeltsin promptly established what has become known as the
Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission and turned over to Gore and his Greenpeace
gang all things Russian, including the Russian loose-nuke problem.
Now, Clinton-Gore had come to power with the wider goal of
abolishing, globally, everything nuclear. Genie, back in the
bottle. Dismantle the nukes; shut down the nuclear power plants.
The Russians, on the other hand, saw things quite differently. In their
view, nuclear power had a bright future, especially if Global Al was
right about fossil fuel use causing global warming. In the Russian
view, converting their nukes to nuclear power was the way to salvage
some of their Cold War investment and, at the same time, save the
What was Clinton-Gore to do?
Well, the administration certainly wasn’t going to help the Russians
save the planet. If the Russian Plutonium Disposition Plan succeeded and
a MOX-based nuclear reactor fuel cycle got firmly established, nuclear
power — using an essentially unlimited supply of MOX, derived from
reprocessed reactor fuel — would be given a new lease on life.
But, how to thwart the Russian plan? In a stroke of genius, some
globalist got the idea of involving not only the United Nations, but the
G-7 — the seven major industrialized countries — as well, in solving
the loose-nuke problem. If the U.S. had acted alone, as Congress
intended, the Russian problem might have quickly been solved. But
involving the U.N. and the G-7, why that could take forever. By then
nuclear power would have died a natural death.
So, about five years ago Clinton-Gore proposed that the U.S. and
Russia would each ante up 34 tons of plutonium. The U.N. International
Atomic Energy Agency would be given the responsibility for
“safeguarding” the storage and eventual disposition of all the plutonium
and the Russian disposition would be approved and largely financed by
Well, involving the U.N. is one thing, but putting the IAEA in
charge? Talk about opening a can of worms.
You see, the chief function of the IAEA is to police the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty. There are two categories of signatories to the
treaty, nuke-weapon states and non-weapons states. The nuke-weapon
states are U.S., UK, France, Russia and China. The role of the IAEA is
to inspect the nuclear facilities of all the non-weapon states — but
not the nuke states — to make sure that the non-weapons states are
upholding their pledge to not develop nukes.
The five dozen non-weapon states include North Korea, Iran and Iraq.
In return for promising not to develop nukes, the non-weapon states have
— as their right — access to almost everything the IAEA has access
to. In particular, since Germany is a non-weapon state, Iraqis,
Iranians and Koreans, assigned to the IAEA in Vienna, have access to
German centrifuge technology and facilities for making HEU, since HEU is
still also being used, peacefully, as reactor fuel. But a simple
HEU-bomb would be the weapon of choice for terrorists or rogue states.
So if you want to know how to make a HEU-bomb, sign the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty and assign some of your people to the IAEA.
The IAEA has no authority to inspect the nuclear facilities of the
nuke-weapon states. That is, until Gore placed that 34 tons of U.S.
plutonium under IAEA safeguards and security, IAEA inspectors —
Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan — had no business inspecting U.S. (or Russian)
nuclear facilities. Now they do.
In particular, the IAEA inspectors will now be required to, more or
less, continuously inspect the Department of Energy Pantex Plant,
outside Amarillo, Texas, which is where most of the plutonium is
stacking up from the nukes the U.S. is unilaterally dismantling. The
IAEA inspectors’ job will be to ensure that the U.S. does not make any
new nukes. (If Gore, by the way, had not coupled the Russian
disposition to a parallel U.S. disposition, we could have done whatever
we wanted to do with our plutonium. Russia wouldn’t have cared and no
Iraqi would have been looking over our shoulder, 24 hours a day, while
we were doing it.)
Now that Gore’s Plutonium Disposition Agreement is the law of the
land, what next? Well, Gore’s agreement calls for the development, by
the 2001 Genoa Summit, of an international financing plan and
multilateral cooperation arrangements for Russia’s multi-billion dollar
disposition program. It seems likely that the international financing
plan will involve Russia becoming the nexus of a new MOX-fueled nuclear
First, the Russian weapons grade Plutonium will be reformed into
non-weapons-usable geometry — hockey pucks — and put in storage for
about 20 years, or until the even more tempting threat (to terrorists)
of 500 metric tons of Russian HEU is burned up. Once that HEU is all
gone, then they will make plutonium-uranium mixed-oxide fuel and sell it
to the world. In the meantime, spent fuel from many of the
industrialized nations will also be stored in Russia, awaiting the new
MOX nuclear era that will save the planet.
So, that’s how the No. 1 threat to U.S. national security — loose
nukes — took a back seat to the Gore-Greenpeace wider goal of putting
the nuclear genie back in the bottle. As far as Russia is concerned,
the chief result of eight years of Gore-Greenpeace foot-dragging on the
Russian loose-nuke threat is that Gore seems to have mobilized the
industrialized nations to fund the development of the Russian nuclear
True, there has not been a catastrophic nuke incident. Either we’ve
been lucky or the threat was overstated. But, overstated or not, the
loose-nuke threat is as bad, now, as it ever was. For better or worse,
our nuke infrastructure is now subject to IAEA safeguards. So, we are
going to have the Iraqis and the Iranians and the North Koreans camped
out in the Texas Panhandle for the next 20 years, meddling in our nuke
Has anybody told Dubya about this?