The United States took a step that makes construction of a MOX facility in Russia extremely unlikely. The House Armed Services Committee approved an agreement that would allow the United States to begin construction of its own MOX fabrication facility at the Savannah River Site without waiting for Russia.

Russia has been less than enthusiastic about its MOX facility, but indicated that it would go ahead if the United States foots the bill. The U.S. was hoping that Russia will eventually come with its share of the money and for a while it looked like the only issue that holds the project back is that of liability. But when the liability issue was resolved, Russia balked at the deal anyway. In February 2006 it informed the DoE that it won't pay its share of the facility cost (which would be more than half of the $2 billion required) unless it is allowed to use the fuel fabricated there in breeder reactors. That was not exactly something that DoE was ready to endorse. Meanwhile, the pressure to go ahead with the U.S. part of the deal was mounting - South Carolina was not going to get stuck with 34 tonnes of plutonium on its territory. The easiest thing to do was to remove the link between the U.S. and Russian projects.

If the measure is approved (it is now part of the Defense Authorization bill, which is still to pass Congress), it will remove the last real incentive to push for construction of the MOX plant in Russia. Which almost certainly means that the plant will never be built.

Overall, this is probably a positive development. I said it before and will say it again - the whole project makes very little sense today and is essentially a subsidy to the nuclear industry (and the French one, for that matter). The money would have been much better spent on securing the plutonium. However, it is not clear if they will get there.