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US to extend nuclear cooperation deal with Japan: official

Agreement allows use of plutonium in reactors, likely to be renewed without renegotiation

The Takahama nuclear power plant. The agreement with the U.S. has been the basis of Japan's nuclear policy for decades.

TOKYO -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette on Wednesday expressed his country's intention to extend the current nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan, which is due to expire next summer, without renegotiating it.

In an interview with The Nikkei and other media in Tokyo, Brouillette said there are no grounds for renegotiating the deal.

His remark indicates that the deal will not be overhauled, let alone terminated.

It was the first time for an U.S. senior government official to clearly state the country's official stance on the deal.

He said the U.S. has established a long relationship with Japan in terms of the peaceful use of nuclear power.

The deal will be automatically extended if neither party proposes negotiation for revision by six months before the deadline.

Because the Japanese government is demanding the extension, the deal is on track to be automatically extended now that the U.S. side has clarified its position.

The deal took effect in 1988 and will reach its 30-year time limit in July 2018.

It permits the peaceful use of plutonium, which can be used to produce nuclear weapons. This is the cornerstone of Japan's nuclear fuel recycling policy, which uses plutonium reprocessed from spent nuclear fuel produced at nuclear power plants.


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