Advocates, such as Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., use the word "recycling" to describe an advanced form of reprocessing that, instead of separating plutonium that can be used in bombs from spent fuel, would produce a mixed-oxide fuel too radioactive for terrorists to handle, calling it "proliferation-resistant."
Such fuel could be used in special reactors that exist in France but not in the United States, the newspaper said.
Edwin Lyman, a scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit think tank that studies environmental and security issues, said he had doubts about the plan.
"We think they are putting a fig leaf on it by calling it proliferation-resistant and saying that it's not really reprocessing, so concerns about proliferation risks won't be valid," he said. "But if we develop something that we call proliferation-resistant and it really isn't, then other countries are going to claim rights to this technology. If it's really proliferation-resistant, would we let Iran have it?"
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