Plutonium power

Despite widespread international criticism, Japan has decided to go ahead with shipment of 30 tonnes of reprocessed plutonium from France and Britain over the next two decades to enhance its nuclear energy production. Even before the first cargo of 1.7 tonnes could set out from Cherbourg in France for Yokohama, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Chile, South Africa and Nauru asked Japan to keep off their territorial waters and to reveal the ship's route, security and emergency arrangements.

The freighter is likely to circle the Cape of Good Hope and then go through the Indian Ocean, Tasman Sea and the Philippine Sea. Japan's assurance that it had taken all safety measures for eventualities such as hijacking, collision and sinking, and to avoid territorial waters, has not assuaged international fears. "They say all of the risks have been taken care of," said Bernard Dowiyogo, President of Nauru. "It's really up to whether you believe them or not. So far, we don't."

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