The Japanese government has given approval for the Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (the successor company to the disbanded PNC) to work with two Russian institutes to produce MOX fuel from Russian nuclear weapons. The programme is scheduled to take 5 years and the Japanese government will appropriate ¥250 million [$2.2 million] for each of the next two years to fund the work.

The Russian institutes are the Atomic Reactors Scientific Research Institute in Dimitrovgrad and the Obninskoye Physical – Technical Institute in Obninsk. Under the plan, MOX material will be produced in Dimitrovgrad and MOX assemblies will first be tried in the BN-600 reactor, the 600 MWe fast reactor at Beloyarsk, which is currently operating with enriched uranium oxide fuel. The Obninsk institute will perform the core calculations and carry out the site tests.

Although Japanese utilities are only just getting ready to use MOX fuel in LWRs, the PNC has had considerable experience in manufacturing and using MOX fuel. It has been making fuel for its Joyo fast research reactor for many years and also made the first core for the Monju fast breeder reactor. In addition it has manufactured and used several hundred MOX assemblies in the Fugen Advanced Test Reactor, a heavy water moderated, light water cooled, boiling water reactor.