HEU Minimization

Minimizing the Use of HEU in Civil Applications

Challenge

The world’s most dangerous materials remain scattered across 24 countries and in dozens of facilities, some poorly secured

Action

To minimize – and ultimately eliminate – the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in civilian and naval applications

Results

NTI published of two groundbreaking reports on HEU minimization and the establishment of regional HEU-free zones

Highly enriched uranium (HEU), a core component of a nuclear weapon, has also been used for decades to power research reactors, produce medical isotopes and fuel naval submarines. Today, with a few exceptions, technical developments have made it possible to replace HEU with LEU in nearly all current uses and have rendered future new civil uses of HEU obsolete.

NTI supports the phased elimination of civil uses for HEU and is working to build an international consensus on the importance of reducing dependence on HEU for peaceful activities.  In particular, NTI has supported and expanded programs in the United States to convert research reactors using HEU to low-enriched uranium (LEU) and to remove HEU from as many sites and countries as possible.

A series of current and past NTI activities have sought to achieve these goals:

  • In 2002, NTI worked with international partners to transfer, secure, and eliminate through blend down more than 100 pounds of weapons-usable material from the Vinca civilian research reactor in Serbia. 
  • NTI also collaborated on a project from 2001-2005 to remove 2,900 kilograms of HEU from the Aktau site in Kazakhstan. 
  • In 2010, NTI published a report on the technology used for HEU blend‐down in Russia, which describes the technological issues that must be confronted to increase the rate of HEU blend-down and discusses the options for resolving these technological challenges.
  • In 2015, NTI and the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) issued a “Roadmap to Minimize and Eliminate HEU” in civilian nuclear applications.
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Latest Activity

Atomic Pulse

Poland HEU Removal: Behind the Scenes

Andrew Bieniawski with a behind-the-scenes look at 10 years of remarkable nuclear security cooperation among the U.S., Poland, the IAEA, and Russia.
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Replacing Highly Enriched Uranium in Naval Reactors

James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 1400 K Street NW, Suite 1225, Washington, DC, 20005
The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) are hosting a discussion on the released a report, Replacing Highly Enriched Uranium in Naval Reactors.
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Medical Isotopes: Balancing Supply and Security

A new CNS issue brief by Anya Loukianova discusses U.S. and international efforts to balance the trade-offs between ensuring medical isotope supply and reducing HEU in medical isotope production
NTI News

Changing the Conversation on HEU

NTI's Corey Hinderstein and Andrew Newman co-authored with Ole Reistad of the Norwegian Institute of Energy Technology an article in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists calling for a change in the conversation on highly enriched uranium (HEU) from minimization to elimination.
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High Level Policy Views on HEU Minimization

This was the last of six panel discussions that took place at the 2nd International Symposium on HEU Minimization in Vienna, which was co-hosted by Austria, Norway and NTI, in cooperation with the IAEA.
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Summary of the 2nd International Symposium on HEU Minimization

The 2nd International Symposium on Highly Enriched Uranium Minimization, co-hosted by the Governments of Austria and Norway and NTI, in cooperation with the IAEA, took place in Vienna January 23-25, 2012. The proceedings show that, while there may remain differences on pace and priority, there is a robust and growing consensus on the principle. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders to seize the moment, broaden the consensus and make commitments irreversible.
Event

2nd International Symposium on HEU Minimization

Vienna, Austria
Co-hosted by Austria, Norway and the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the 2nd International Symposium on HEU Minimization built on the results of the first Symposium in Oslo in 2006. The Vienna Symposium revisited the issue of highly enriched uranium (HEU) minimization, reviewed the progress made and scope of efforts to date, remaining challenges and possible new measures to address them.

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