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Japan approves new guideline on plutonium use, pledges to reduce stockpile

Japan’s nuclear policy-setting panel on Tuesday approved a revised guideline on plutonium use, putting a cap on its stockpile and pledging to eventually reduce it, AP said. The Japan Atomic Energy Commission guideline calls for some government oversight to minimize plutonium separation and for utilities to cooperate. It doesn’t give a timeline or say how reduction is possible until a reprocessing plant starts operations in three years. The country has 47 tons of plutonium, and the stockpile largely comes from the failed Monju plutonium reactor. This forces Japan to resort to burning plutonium less efficiently in conventional reactors. Despite security concerns and Washington’s pressure, the stockpile isn’t decreasing as reactors resume work slowly amid setbacks from the 2011 Fukushima disaster.