chapter  2
13 Pages

The economic value of plutonium and highly enriched uranium

WithWilliam J. Weida

Value is normally established through a market mechanism in which a buyer and seller negotiate a price viewed as fair by each. Ideally, the negotiated price of the good should reflect all the costs incurred in its production. Viewed from an economic perspective, the value of plutonium or highly enriched uranium is simply the amount of economic return the use of either material would generate in an open market. With no market to determine prices, one is forced to resort to a second-level analysis in the case of plutonium; namely, whether plutonium is an asset or a liability. Since surplus plutonium has no legitimate use other than reactor fuel, it is clear why even the French have decided to give plutonium a zero value in their accounts and Germany and Britain have already zeroed out any economic value for plutonium.