Report Chapter - Nonproliferation Policy Education Center

China’s Uranium Enrichment and Plutonium Recycling 2020-2040: Current Practices and Projected Capacities

| March 2021

This chapter appeared in the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center's China's Civil Nuclear Sector: Plowshares to Swords?, edited by Henry D. Sokolski. 

Since 2010, China has significantly expanded its indigenous enrichment capacity to meet the expected rapid increase of enrichment requirements. Meanwhile, China has expanded its plutonium reprocessing and recycling capabilities for “saving uranium.” The purpose of this report is to provide a better understanding of the development of China’s uranium enrichment and plutonium recycling programs.

In part one, this report discusses the development status of China’s uranium enrichment industry. Given China does not officially release information on its enrichment capacity, the report estimates China’s current enrichment capacity based on satellite imagery, Chinese publications, and discussions with Chinese experts. Furthermore, the report makes projections of China’s enrichment expansion over the next two decades.

In part two, this report reviews the development of China’s reprocessing and fast reactors programs also referencing the latest reports and imagery. The report also projects cases for stocks of reactor-grade plutonium over next two decades. Finally, it estimates weapons-grade plutonium produced in the blankets of fast reactors.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Hui Zhang, "China’s uranium enrichment and plutonium recycling 2020-2040: current practices and projected capacities," in Henry D. Sokolski,ed., China's Civil Nuclear Sector: Plowshares to Swords? Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, Occasional Paper 2102, March 2021.