"As part of the World War II effort to develop the atomic bomb, reprocessing technology was developed to chemically separate and recover fissionable plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel. In the early stage of commercial nuclear power, reprocessing was thought essential to supplying nuclear fuel. Federally sponsored breeder reactor development included research into advanced reprocessing technology. Several commercial interests in reprocessing foundered due to economic, technical, and regulatory issues. President Carter terminated federal support for reprocessing in an attempt to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons material. Reprocessing for nuclear weapons production ceased shortly after the Cold War ended. The Department of Energy now proposes a new generation of 'proliferation-resistant' reactor and reprocessing technology."
CRS Report for Congress, RS22542