On further thought, my position is that reducing plutonium stocks is urgent and dictates starting mixed-oxide fuel at the earliest possible time.
Plutonium or enriched uranium is essential to make a nuclear bomb. Having either on a shelf somewhere is a terrorist’s dream, and terror will be a continuing threat. Enriched uranium easily can be blended down with ordinary uranium, but the many tons of plutonium will last until we render it useless as a bomb component.
MOX is a mix of the oxides of uranium and plutonium that can be used as a fuel for commercial power plants. It takes its plutonium out of harm’s way. The most important role in making it was in just getting rid of an essential component of a nuke, but getting some money for the product is a plus.
The cost of making MOX was wildly underestimated, many billions being spent. Those costs cannot be recovered. They are “sunk,” so we can and should write it all off. That huge cost serves to rule out building a second MOX plant. A second one? Well, MOX was sized always to be short of handling less than half the plutonium, and falls further and further short as we scale back the number of deployed nukes, releasing more and more tons of plutonium.
We must not waste the work already done in building the MOX facilities.
We need to finish its construction and start making MOX. We also need to decide the next method we shall choose to work off all the tons of plutonium we will have to dispose of.
It would be madness not to use the facilities, now nearly completed, to do this vitally important task. That mission is still essential.