This is a great article on the French nuclear industry and why it is so much better then our antiquated, stuck in the 70s, system. I think this is the part that I still don't understand.
But it is in the area of nuclear waste treatment that Paris and Washington disagree most strongly. The French have been recycling nuclear waste for some 25 years, a process the United States strongly opposes because it requires separating uranium from plutonium, which in theory could then be diverted to the production of nuclear weapons. The French argue that recycling waste material is the best way to deal with the waste problem and to ensure the long-term availability of uranium. "In France, we have confidence in the efficiency of the safety measures and in being able to control nuclear proliferation," Carré says.
There wouldn't even be a Yucca Mountain problem if Obama would simply get rid of the Carter era ban on recycling nuclear waste. I just don't understand this talk about nuclear bombs since we won't be using the plutonium to build them in the first place. It is like not recycling steel because it *might* be used to make tanks.
What I think should be done is the IAEA should get together with nuclear powered nations and create a world-wide nuclear waste disposal system. I think it should involve feeder reactors or some other way of using the the waste to create more energy. Call them waste reprocessing reactors and hook them into the grid as well.
This will actually do some good unlike the Kyoto Protocol that penalizes industrialized nations from engaging in industrialization. Then there should be some kind of plutonium monitoring system that insures that the plutonium is used in other reactors or stored somewhere and not used to make bombs.