Putin and Xi Strengthen Back-End Nuclear Cooperation

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Putin Xi Russia China (AP image #	19157692935170)
Aleksey Nikolskyi/Sputnik via AP

As Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Moscow this week, Russia and China inked a cooperation deal to collaborate on current and new projects "related to fast reactors," the “production of uranium-plutonium fuel”, and spent fuel management, Rosatom said in a Mar. 21 statement. The long-term deal was signed by Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev and China Atomic Energy Authority Chairman Zhang Kejian. The deal provides for the “development of the roadmap for its implementation by the end of 2024” and “cooperation over the decades ahead and establishment of the nuclear power engineering development vectors at the global level." Russian President Vladimir Putin touted the Russian export of four under-construction reactors — Tianwan-7 and -8 and Xudabu-3 and -4 — and promised that all four will "be completed as scheduled." But it's back-end cooperation, such as the first core of China's CFR-600 fast-neutron reactor that Rosatom subsidiary Tvel shipped to China in December, has raised eyebrows. The Pentagon asserts that China is accelerating the expansion of its nuclear weapons stockpiles, enabled in part by plutonium production from nominally civil back-end nuclear facilities.

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