25 September 1997


(Ground-breaking accord signed) (540)

(The following fact sheet was released September 23, 1997 by the White
House Office of the Vice President following the ninth meeting of the
U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation,
also known as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission)

U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological



Vice President Al Gore notes the signature of the U.S.-Russian
Plutonium Production Reactor agreement. The major provisions of this
ground-breaking accord are described below.

Major Provisions:

-- Russia and the U.S. will not restart any of their Plutonium
production reactors that have already been shut down. (In the U.S.,
all 14 such reactors were shut down by 1989; in Russia, 10 of 13 have
been shut down.)

-- Russia will convert by the year 2000, with U.S. assistance, its
three operating reactors so that they cease all production of
weapon-grade Plutonium. Reactor modifications will also reduce the
residual quantity of non-weapon-grade Plutonium each reactor produces
to a tiny fraction of the amount of Plutonium previously produced.

-- The converted reactors will be shut down at the end of their normal
lifetimes, consistent with prudent safety considerations.

-- Plutonium produced henceforth until reactor conversion, and any
uranium recovered from the spent fuel of the converted reactors, will
not be used in nuclear weapons.

-- Fresh fuel for the converted reactors will incorporate uranium
derived from dismantled nuclear weapons, helping to reduce that
stockpile as well.

-- A Joint Implementation and Compliance Commission will oversee
implementation of the agreement's provisions, resolve any issues that
may arise, and consider additional measures to promote the objectives
of the agreement.

Monitoring Regime:

-- For shutdown reactors, U.S. and Russian monitors will install and
periodically check seals or other monitoring equipment to provide
assurance that the reactors could not be restarted without detection.

-- For converted reactors, U.S. monitors will measure random samples
of fresh fuel to determine that the fuel is the intended type, and
they will install monitoring devices in the fuel discharge areas to
ensure that fuel is discharged only when scheduled. By ensuring that
the agreed fuel type and discharge schedule are used, they can ensure
that the converted reactors are no longer producing weapon-grade

-- Russia will also declare annually the total mass of high-enriched
uranium derived from dismantled nuclear weapons that was used to make
fresh fuel for the converted reactors, and the ultimate destination
and intended use of any uranium they may recover from the spent fuel.

-- For Plutonium produced prior to reactor conversion, i.e.,
weapon-grade Plutonium, U.S. monitors will periodically check tags and
seals on containers in storage and measure randomly selected
containers to ensure that the material inside is indeed weapon-grade
and newly produced. The Plutonium subject to such monitoring will
include all such material that is reprocessed in 1997 or thereafter
(which will include Plutonium produced since the beginning of 1995).
The agreement specifies that the total amount of such Plutonium is
estimated to be between 4.5 and 9 metric tons.