China’s push to develop fuel for a new generation of nuclear power reactors will produce large amounts of materials that could be diverted to making nuclear weapons, non-proliferation experts said on Thursday. China is developing advanced fast reactors and reprocessing facilities as it seeks to reduce dependency on coal, which emits emissions harmful to human health and that worsen climate change. But reprocessing also produces plutonium that could be used to make nuclear weapons. There is no evidence that China intents to divert its potential plutonium stockpile to weapons use, but concern has grown as Beijing is expected to boost its number of nuclear warheads over the next decade from the low 200s now.
Reuters 25th March 2021 read more »
China starts construction of a second 200 MT/year reprocessing plant. Commercial bidding and purchase documents and other accounts suggest China is likely to start construction of a second spent fuel reprocessing plant of the same capacity and at the same site as its first such plant, the CNNC Gansu Nuclear Technology Industrial Park in Jinta, Gansu province. Since 2015, China has been constructing a civilian “demonstration” reprocessing plant for spent light-water reactor fuel, with a capacity of 200 tons per year (tons of Heavy Metal, tHM/year). The construction activities and equipment purchases suggest that this first plant (Project I) could complete its civil engineering stage and begin equipment installment in late 2020. Project 1 is expected to be operational in 2025. The start of work on the second reprocessing plant (Project II) in late 2020 or early 2021 suggests that it could be commissioned before 2030.
IPFM 21st March 2021 read more »
China’s Civil Nuclear Sector: Plowshares to Swords?
NPEC 24th March 2021 read more »