Obsolete nuclear warhead contain fissionable materials: plutonium and highly enriched uranium. These are long-lived and dangerous substances. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties (START I was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1991) do not provide guidance on the safe storage or disposal of these materials. An acceptable method must make diversion of such materials difficult or impossible, make it difficult or impossible to return these materials to a form suitable for weapons, be affordable, and meet at least minimum safety and environmental standards.
In 1993 it was estimated that about 135 tonnes of plutonium will come from dismantling of USA nuclear weapons in the following 20 years. The USA also plans to buy back plutonium from Soviet weapons and had proposed a ban on new production for weapons use.