NEW REACTORS COULD BE USED FOR BOMB-MAKING
WASHINGTON A new generation of nuclear power facilities that China is developing could produce large amounts of plutonium that could be used to make nuclear weapons, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command warned lawmakers this week.
China is developing fast breeder reactors and reprocessing facilities as it seeks to reduce dependence on coal, a top source of carbon emissions. But the plants also produce plutonium that could be used to make nuclear weapons. The first fast breeder reactor is projected to come on line in 2023.
“With a fast breeder reactor, you now have a very large source of weapons grade plutonium available to you, that will change the upper bounds of what China could choose to do if they wanted to, in terms of further expansion of their nuclear capabilities,” Navy Admiral Charles Richard, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, pictured, told the Senate Committee on Armed Services on Tuesday. STRATCOM oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal.
China's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.