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U.S. to watch Japan's decision on nuclear reprocessing: U.S. energy official.

TOKYO, March 30 Kyodo

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu suggested Friday Washington will closely watch Japan's decision on whether to continue its policy of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel after the Fukushima nuclear accident.

''What Japan decides is a Japanese decision but (Japan) is also part of the world community,'' Chu said at a press conference in Tokyo.

The United States has been refraining from reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, citing cost problems and the possibility of plutonium generated during the process being diverted to military use.

Chu said the United States has been cooperating with other countries to develop reprocessing technologies that are ''safer'' and ''more economically viable'' than current ones, and will keep doing so while also paying heed to prevent nuclear proliferation.

A subcommittee of the Japanese Cabinet Office's Atomic Energy Commission presented earlier this week three proposals with regard to the nation's nuclear fuel reprocessing policy.

The first one is to keep pursuing efforts to put the fast-breeder reactor into practical use, the second idea is to abandon the development of the fast-breeder reactor as well as the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and the last is a compromise between two that would involve continuing to develop the reactor and reprocess fuel and decide by 2030 whether to pursue the technology beyond that point.

The subcommittee plans to submit the outcome of its discussion on the three proposals as early as May to a government taskforce formed to draw up a new energy policy for Japan in the wake of the tsunami-triggered nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

As to the possibility that the United States will agree to let Japan continue recycling spent fuel beyond 2018, when a nuclear agreement between the two countries is due to be revised, Chu declined to comment, saying that related discussions have yet to begin and that ''2018 is a long way off.''
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Publication:Japan Energy Scan
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Apr 2, 2012
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