The bipartisan Atlantic Council suggested yesterday that the United States puts its uranium enrichment and plutonium extraction plants under international control as a means of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
Moves like these would be tied to similar moves by the other nations possessing uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing facilities, the council said, to "decouple" uranium and plutonium factories from national nuclear power programs and make them nuclear fuel suppliers.
"The problem of proliferation (of nuclear weapons) is not a national problem for any one nation," said John E. Gray, chairman of the Alantic Council's nuclear fuels policy working group. "It is an international problem for all nations that can only be worked out by all nations together."
Declaring that "it looks like plutonium is here to stay," Gray said the Carter administration should abandon its opposition to reprocessing plutonium and to constructing a plutonium breeder reactor. Instead, the administration should join with Japan and most of the countries of Western Europe and tighten controls on the plutonium they produce.
"We believe it is inappropriate for any nation to tell the rest how the game should be played," Gray said, referring to President Carter's attempt to "set an example" on the plutonium issue. "No one country can call the shots anymore."
A two-volume report released by the Alantic Council called for a multinational program of enriching uranium and extracting plutonium in which inspectors would ensure that no single nation ever diverted nuclear material to weapons.
Gray conceded that managing the nuclear fuel cycle internationally would create serious problems. Among them: which country would take title to the radioactive wastes?
"Nobody wants to be the other guy's dustbin, that's clear," Gray said. "We're suggesting that solutions to that problem be used as a carrot to get all the nations of the world behind a solution to the proliferation problem."
Pressed about how to solve the nuclear waste question, Gray hinted strongly that the United States should offer itself as the repository for the world's nuclear garbage, suggesting that the territory, the technology and movtivation to handle it all are here.