US and Kazakhstan agree on removal of highly enriched uranium

3rd April 2015


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Semiautonomous US government agency the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) plans to work with Kazakhstan, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to return about 50 kg of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to Russia, thereby removing all HEU research reactor fuel from Kazakhstan.

The DOE/NNSA on Jan 7, 2015, announced that 36 kg of HEU spent fuel had been removed from the Institute of Nuclear Physics (INP), in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The HEU was transported by means of two air shipments to a secure facility in Russia for permanent disposal.

This complex operation was the culmination of a multiyear effort between the US, Kazakhstan, Russia and the IAEA, with the countries sharing a long history of cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation issues.

DOE/NNSA deputy administrator Anne Harrington states that the removal of this HEU is yet another example of how the international community continues to work together to prevent the threat of nuclear terrorism.

“This cooperation reduces the [possibility]that such material can fall into the hands of terrorists.”

Meanwhile, in September, about 10 kg of HEU fresh fuel was returned to Russia from the INP. The HEU was shipped to a facility in Russia where it will be downblended to low-enriched uranium (LEU).

The DOE/NNSA and the INP have also cooperated to return more than 70 kg of HEU spent fuel to Russia and to downblend more than 30 kg of HEU fresh fuel at the Ulba metallurgical facility, in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan.

Further, the DOE/NNSA and the INP are also working together to convert the INP’s research reactor from using HEU fuel to running on LEU fuel.

Additional cooperation between the US and Kazakhstan includes improving security for nuclear and radiological materials, constructing a nuclear security training centre at the INP that will serve Kazakhstan’s entire nuclear industry, developing nuclear security curricula, providing radiation detection equipment at Kazakhstan ports of entry as well as associated training and support for the sustainment of equipment, and cooperating on the implementation of safeguarding and training for Kazakhstani officials on export controls.

Edited by Leandi Kolver
Creamer Media Deputy Editor



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