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The plutonium agreement recently signed by President Bush protects the interests of South Carolina and provides for progress on a program to limit stockpiles of plutonium in Russia and the United States.

The heightened threat of terrorism makes the program to turn weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear fuel more important than ever....

Governor Jim Hodges led the effort to stop the plutonium last year, but unfortunately refused to acknowledge victory when federal officials relented and agreed to prospective penalties as well as a plan for the removal of plutonium, if not used within a specific period....

The Savannah River Site has long served for the production of nuclear material as well as for its immobilization. The Department of Energy has demonstrated the capacity to transport nuclear material safely, and SRS has the expertise needed to undertake the conversion to mixed oxide fuel that can be used in commercial reactors....

South Carolina rightly objected to the Doe's initial plans. The safeguards that were initially lacking have been formalized in the Defense bill.

The state's congressmen and its chief executive should remain watchful as plans for the fuel conversion progress.

The (Charleston) Post and Courie