There are differences in national approaches in respect of once-through vs. a reprocessing and recycling policy. These approaches are linked with national policy on the management of natural resources, view on the relative radiological risk, domestic energy resources, security of supply and the relative economics, see for example, Bertel and Wilmer (2003).

From a sustainable energy perspective, recycling offers the option of better utilisation of resource and reduced radioactive waste. A MOX fuel cycle offers plutonium burning and reduction of radiotoxicity of spent fuel. In terms of public risk, an NEA study (OECD/NEA, 2000) concluded that the differences in public exposures between the fuel cycles were not significant.

The position adopted on the second and third issues depends on the country’s requirement for autonomy.

The economics depend on the expected prices of uranium and fuel cycle costs and specific national conditions. The current position favours the once-through option, even with a significant growth in nuclear energy production.

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