Ships To Carry Japan Plutonium To U.s. Arrive In Kobe

Ships to carry Japan plutonium to U.S. arrive in KobeA U.S. civic group said Friday two ships have arrived in Kobe to transport the plutonium which Japan agreed in 2014 to return to the United States.
The British-flagged ships will pick up the cargo in Tokaimura and transport it over a 52-day voyage to South Carolina, where the U.S. government-run Savannah River Site nuclear facility is located, according to Savannah River Site Watch.

The Pacific Heron and the Pacific Egret, now anchored in Kobe, Japan, will transport 331 kilograms of plutonium, including weapons-grade plutonium, from the Fast Critical Assembly run by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Tokaimura, northeast of Tokyo.

This will be the largest shipment of plutonium by sea since 1993 when the Japanese Akatsuki Maru carried 1 ton of the material from France to Japan, according to Tom Clements, head of the civic group monitoring nuclear issues.

It is believed the amount of plutonium is enough to make 50 nuclear bombs.

The United States provided the plutonium, including some that originated in Britain and France, to Japan for research purposes during the Cold War era.

In March 2014, at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed with U.S. President Barack Obama to return the plutonium, and to also send highly enriched uranium kept at the FCA.

Once it arrives in the United States, the plutonium will be disposed of, according to the bilateral agreement.

Obama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to seek a world free of nuclear weapons, will host the next round of the biennial Nuclear Security Summit on March 31 and April 1 in Washington.