NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. Courtesy/NNSA
Cooperative Program Removes Highly Enriched Uranium from Uzbekistan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced the successful removal of 72.8 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) spent fuel from the Institute of Nuclear Physics (INP) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Today’s announcement marks the 50th shipment under NNSA’s cooperative program with Russia to return Russian-origin HEU.
Since the program began 10 years ago, NNSA and its Russian counterparts have closely cooperated to successfully repatriate to Russia more than 1,900 kilograms of Russian-origin HEU, enough material for more than 75 nuclear weapons, and completely removed all Russian-origin HEU from six countries.
This project is part of NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI).
The HEU in the shipment announced today was securely transported by air to a specialized facility in Russia.
This complex operation was the culmination of a multi-year effort between the NNSA, Uzbekistan, numerous Russian partners including the nuclear regulator and the Russian Federation’s Nuclear Energy State Corporation (ROSATOM), and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“We’re working to make the world safer every day, and the 50th shipment of HEU under our Russian-origin fuel return program is a major step in achieving President Obama’s goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material in four years,” NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino said. “In the wrong hands this material could be used to make a nuclear weapon. This shipment and our ongoing partnership with Russia demonstrate the positive effect our efforts have on the global effort to secure, consolidate and minimize the use of highly enriched uranium across the globe.”
NNSA’s GTRI and Uzbekistan’s INP share a long history of cooperation on nuclear and radiological security issues.
This is the seventh shipment of HEU from INP since 2006 and marks the complete clean-out of all HEU from the facility.
GTRI also worked with INP to convert its research reactor from HEU to low enriched uranium (LEU) use, and to secure radiological sources that could be used for a dirty bomb.
GTRI’s mission is to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological material located at civilian sites worldwide.
GTRI achieves its mission by converting research reactors and isotope production facilities from the use of HEU to LEU; removing excess nuclear and radiological materials; and by protecting high priority nuclear and radiological materials from theft.
Together these efforts provide a comprehensive approach to preventing terrorists’ access to nuclear and radiological materials.
A fact sheet on NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative is available online here.
A fact sheet on NNSA’s efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism is available here.