Abolition 2000 – Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

Fissile Materials

The Fissile Materials working group was established to support initiatives to control, reduce and eventually eliminate stockpiles of plutonium and highly enriched uranium. These fissile materials are the key ingredients in nuclear weapons. Their control is critical to nuclear weapons disarmament, to halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and to ensuring that terrorists do not acquire nuclear weapons.

The working group supports, and cooperates with, the International Panel on Fissile Materials.

Contacts:

Zia Mian, Research Scientist in Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security and directs its Project on Peace and Security in South Asia. [email protected]

M. V. Ramana. Professional Specialist with a joint appointment in Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security and its Nuclear Futures Laboratory. [email protected]

Background:

As of January 2012, the global stockpile of highly enriched uranium (HEU) is estimated to be about 1440 tonnes. The global stockpile of separated plutonium is about 500 tonnes, roughly half produced for weapons and half produced in civilian nuclear power programs.

The International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) is an independent group of arms-control and nonproliferation experts from both nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states.

The mission of the IPFM is to analyze the technical basis for practical and achievable policy initiatives to secure, consolidate, and reduce stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and plutonium. These fissile materials are the key ingredients in nuclear weapons, and their control is critical to nuclear weapons disarmament, to halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and to ensuring that terrorists do not acquire nuclear weapons.

Both military and civilian stocks of fissile materials have to be addressed. The nuclear-weapon states still have enough fissile materials in their weapon stockpiles for tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. On the civilian side, enough plutonium has been separated to make a similarly large number of weapons. Highly enriched uranium is used in civilian reactor fuel in more than one hundred locations. The total amount used for this purpose is sufficient to make about one thousand Hiroshima-type bombs, a design well within the potential capabilities of terrorist groups.

IPFM research and reports are shared with international organizations, national governments and nongovernmental groups. It has full panel meetings twice a year at capitals around the world in addition to specialist workshops. These meetings and workshops are often in conjunction with international conferences at which IPFM panels and experts make presentations.

For more information, see the IPFM website here: http://www.fissilematerials.org/