Greenpeace says US sold nuclear secrets to Japan

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The Independent Online
New York - The United States has been providing secret nuclear technology to Japan in violation of a US law designed to halt the spread of materials to make nuclear weapons, Greenpeace, the environmental group, alleged yesterday, writes Peter Pringle.

The transfer of technology was made mostly during the Reagan and Bush administration, the group said. It alleged that the Reagan administration had misled Congressmen over an agreement to help Japan build a plant to extract plutonium fuel from its nuclear power reactors. Construction of the plant is due to begin this month.

The allegations come at a sensitive time for the Clinton administration, which is trying to prevent North Korea's nuclear programme from producing bomb-grade material. The US Department of Energy, which controls all nuclear materials, did not deny the Greenpeace claims. The department said: 'We take their concerns seriously and will be thoroughly reviewing the Greenpeace report.'

The transfer of Sensitive Nuclear Technology (SNT) was made, Greenpeace said, to help Japan build a reprocessing plant at the Tokai nuclear power complex. The extracted plutonium is sufficiently potent to be used in bombs, which is why thus far the five countries with declared nuclear weapons have restricted transfer of the reprocessing technology. Greenpeace says documents show several shipments to Japan of advanced plutonium reprocessing information and technology.

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