The NAS is calling for a move slow approach on the Bush administration’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) Program, which among other things, calls for civilian nuclear power to move wholesale into a Plutonium economy, with the US reprocessing spent fuel, and reactors to burn the extracted Plutonium.
Their arguments are not about the potential safety and terrorism issues of a Plutonium economy, but rather that this program is insufficiently mature, and that funds should go toward getting new, more conventional, commercial plants online in the US, so they are not anti-nuke by inclination.
To quote the NAS press release, “The research and development component of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), a program that aims to reprocess spent nuclear fuel which could then be shared with partner countries, should not go forward at its current pace, says a new report from the National Research Council. DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, of which GNEP is a part, should instead assign the highest priority to facilitating the startup of new commercial nuclear power plants, a program that is currently falling behind schedule due to funding gaps.”
What is going on here is that be is doing everything in its power to make sure that nuclear power plants are a fact on the ground before they leave office out of ideological fervor, not a realistic assessment of the technology.