• Kyodo

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The International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of nuclear proliferation emanating from the Tokai nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, saying the plutonium shortfall detected at the plant matches an agency estimate.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry said Tuesday that government scientists have found that the amount of plutonium extracted at the Ibaraki Prefecture plant between 1977 and last September was 206 kg short of the amount initially projected.

In a statement released Tuesday, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said this shortfall largely matches a projection obtained from the results of inspections conducted by the IAEA, adding that the agency is confident no nuclear material from the plant has ended up in unauthorized hands.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog has long bemoaned the inaccuracy of measurements conducted at nuclear fuel reprocessing plants, and has cited discrepancies at the Tokai plant between the calculated amount of plutonium in spent nuclear fuel prior to reprocessing and the actual amount extracted.

The agency has conducted inspections at the plant since it began operating in 1977.

With a view to enhancing nonproliferation measures, the agency has been reviewing the methods of evaluating plutonium and improving measuring equipment in Japan and other countries that have nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities.

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