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Civilian Uses of HEU

  • Unloading fuel from a research reactor, Chile Unloading fuel from a research reactor, Chile
    www.rertr.anl.gov
  • The MIR M-1, a pressure-tube test reactor, Dimitrovgrad The MIR M-1, a pressure-tube test reactor, Dimitrovgrad
    www.niaar.ru
  • The BARS-6 pulsed reactor, Obninsk The BARS-6 pulsed reactor, Obninsk
    www.ippe.obninsk.ru
  • The NRU Reactor at Chalk River, Canada, where MDS Nordion irradiates HEU targets to produce medical isotopes The NRU Reactor at Chalk River, Canada, where MDS Nordion irradiates HEU targets to produce medical isotopes
    neutron.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
  • Possible space probe, Project Prometheus Possible space probe, Project Prometheus
    www.nasaexplores.com
  • The Taymyr and Vaygach nuclear-powered icebreakers The Taymyr and Vaygach nuclear-powered icebreakers
    dikson21.narod.ru
  • Masurca Fast Critical Assembly, France Masurca Fast Critical Assembly, France
    Salvatores et al., "Advanced Fast Reactor Development Requirements: is there any need for HEU?" Cadarache/Argonne, April 2006
  • The CEFR reactor, now under construction in Beijing The CEFR reactor, now under construction in Beijing
    www.iaea.org

Highly enriched uranium (HEU) is uranium with the proportion of the U-235 isotope at or above 20%. There are currently three principal uses for civilian HEU: as research reactor fuel; as targets for the production of medical isotopes; and as fuel in icebreaker propulsion reactors. Additionally, HEU has been used in space propulsion reactors and in nuclear power reactors.

Although there is no international agreement banning the use of HEU in future research reactors, no new HEU-fueled civilian research reactors with a power level of more than 1 MW have been built in Western countries since the early 1980s, with the exception of Germany's FRM-II reactor. By contrast, seventeen new research reactors worldwide have been built using LEU fuels.

HEU Use in Research and Test Reactors

Research Reactors
Research reactors are small fission reactors designed to produce neutrons for a variety of purposes, including scientific research, training, and medical isotope production. Significantly less powerful than commercial power reactors, research reactors use smaller amounts of uranium for neutron production. While many research reactors initially used low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel (uranium with the proportion of the U-235 isotope under 20%), the LEU fuel technology used in the 1950s soon reached its limits. In order to improve the performance of the reactors with existing technology, and to enable more powerful reactors to be built, HEU fuel soon became the standard among the vast majority of research reactors.

Because HEU fuels have a much greater proportion of the fissile isotope uranium-235 and a much lower proportion of uranium-238 than LEU fuels, HEU fuels generate a higher neutron flux. [1] A number of research reactors historically used fuel with a very high enrichment level, approximately 90% U-235, while many now use fuel enriched to approximately 36%. The amount of fuel the reactors require also varies dramatically, from just 1 kg in Miniature Neutron Source Reactors (MNSR), to approximately 10 kg per year in many pool reactors, to more than 100 kg per year in some of the most powerful reactors. Some of these reactors also have stocks of fresh and spent fuel on site, which makes them potentially attractive targets for criminals or terrorists seeking access to weapons-useable nuclear material.

Since the late 1970s, programs to convert research reactors to LEU fuel have developed new fuels and reconfigured some reactors to minimize losses in neutron flux (and in some cases, this conversion has even increased the flux). [2] The United States, Russia, and a handful of other countries are working in cooperation to develop higher density LEU fuels that could substitute for HEU fuels in existing research reactors. Several types of replacement LEU fuels have been developed already. Uranium-silicide fuel developed in the 1980s has a uranium density sufficient to convert the vast majority of reactors. Uranium-molybdenum (U-Mo) fuels with very high uranium densities are currently under development and in testing, and could potentially replace the HEU fuel in the remaining reactors. [3] Once development of U-Mo fuel is complete, and it has been licensed and put into production, virtually all present and future civil research reactors can be converted to LEU. This new LEU fuel will offer "unprecedented performance" that exceeds what could historically be achieved with HEU. [4]

There are currently 247 research reactors in operation in 55 countries, including critical and subcritical assemblies, as well as pulsed reactors. [5] In 2007, 140 research reactors were using HEU fuel, highlighting the size of conversion challenges; by 2013, roughly 100 civilian facilities used HEU. [6] The largest concentrations of HEU- fuel reactors are found in the former Soviet Union, the United States, and the European Union. Since 2004, the Global Threat Reduction Initiative has helped convert to LEU fuel 66 reactors, and verified the shutdown of another 22 reactors. [7]

Low-Powered Research Reactors
In addition to research and test reactors, there are also critical assemblies, subcritical assemblies, and pulsed reactors that use fuels containing HEU. These types of reactors are much lower-powered than typical research and test reactors, and thus do not require the same type of cooling systems. This allows them to be reconfigured quickly with different fuel types, and makes possible a wide range of experimental work. Critical and subcritical assemblies, for example, are typically used for either basic physics experimentation or to model the properties of proposed reactor cores. [8] They often contain very large amounts of HEU, and in some cases they are used to mock-up the cores of large power reactors. Some experts, however, argue that critical assemblies using HEU are unnecessary, as the effects of neutron bursts can be assessed through computer simulations. [9]

Pulsed reactors, another type of specialized low-powered reactor, are used to produce short bursts of high power and intensive neutron flux. [10] The neutron flux produced from the pulse is of much higher density than could be achieved in a reactor operating at a continuous state. Pulsed reactors generally use large quantities of HEU fuel to achieve this high level of neutron flux, and could be difficult to convert from HEU to LEU fuel. However, these reactors are generally used for defense, not civilian, purposes and would thus not be covered by a civilian ban. [11] Some experts have suggested that these reactors, like critical assemblies, could be replaced with computer simulations. [12] Conversion to LEU of some reactors with pulsing capabilities, such as TRIGA reactors, is possible.

Low powered reactors pose unique proliferation challenges. Their low power means that they consume their fuel very slowly, so that they have what are termed "lifetime cores" in many cases. Existing facilities with these low power reactors thus have no natural window of opportunity for a transition to LEU fuel. The HEU core could be blended down into LEU, which could then be sold commercially or used as fuel in power plants, providing some financial incentive. However, the immediate financial cost of such a process is substantial, as the irradiated HEU fuel from reactor cores needs to be extracted, stored, and replaced with high-density LEU fuel, which is more expensive. Moreover, operators have an interest in keeping their facilities running on HEU, since radiation status has historically been linked to employee salaries. Compounding this problem, these reactors do not highly irradiate their fuel load. As a result, the HEU fuel in these low power reactors is potentially attractive to thieves because it is not highly radioactive. [13]

HEU Use for Radioisotope Production

HEU continues to play a major role in the production of radioactive isotopes for medical applications, both as fuel for reactors and as targets. HEU targets are irradiated in a reactor, producing the fission product molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), which has a 66 hour half-life and decays to 6-hour half-life technetium-99m, a gamma ray emitter frequently used in medical imaging. [14]

There are several major international Mo-99 processor companies that rely on HEU today: Covidien (Netherlands), IRE (Belgium), Nordion (Canada), and NTP (South Africa), although the latter has almost switched to full LEU production. Belgium, South Africa, and the Netherlands are partners in the Global Threat Reduction Initiative effort to switch to LEU targets by 2015; South Africa has already achieved large-scale production using LEU fuel and pilot-scale production with LEU targets. [15] Moreover, Canada's irradiator (NRU reactor) is also expected to cease HEU-based production in 2016. [16]

These initiatives, funded in part by the United States through the GTRI program, are expected to enable a gradual decrease in U.S. reliance on foreign HEU-based producers; an important fact given that the United States remains the biggest market for Mo-99. [17] Indeed, in 2013, the United States consumed roughly 50% of the world's supply of Mo-99. [18] See the U.S. HEU page for more details.

Some producers of medical isotopes have commenced production using LEU targets, rather than HEU targets. Small-scale LEU-based production has been achieved in Argentina, Australia, and Indonesia. [19] South Africa has also converted its SAFARI-1 research reactor to be able to produce Mo-99 using LEU targets on a large scale. [20] The IAEA has been a major supporter of these activities. For example, in 2010 the Agency launched an International Working Group to provide assistance for the HEU to LEU conversion of reactors used by Mo-99 producers. Research reactor coalitions have been created to pool regional efforts to produce non-HEU Mo-99. [21]

HEU Uses in Space: Power and Propulsion

Fission reactors have been used to power satellites in earth orbit. Weapons-grade HEU has been exclusively used for such reactors due to the extreme size constraints imposed by space launches. [22] The United States launched a single satellite powered by a fission reactor in 1965; it was the first of its kind. [23] Such reactors were used extensively during the Cold War by the USSR to power 33 Radar Ocean Reconnaissance Satellites (RORSATs); these reactors used weapons-grade HEU fuel. [24] A second-generation TOPAZ reactor was also built (using 96% enriched fuel) and two satellites using this reactor were deployed by the Soviet Union. [25] Interest in HEU-fuelled reactors for satellites appears to have waned; the last known launch of a space nuclear reactor was in 1988. [26]

It remains an open question whether the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) or other national space programs will decide to use HEU reactors for deep-space propulsion. In 2003, NASA launched Project Prometheus, a short-lived joint fission propulsion reactor development effort, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy. Such a program was viewed as necessary to power a manned mission to explore Mars, since it could cut months off of the time required for the voyage. [27] The project was officially terminated on 2 October 2005. [28] Nevertheless, U.S. Secretary of Energy Bodman stated in November 2005 that the Department of Energy would allocate approximately twenty tons of weapons-grade HEU to space and research reactors, indicating continued support for space reactor development. [29] Space reactor research continues to some extent today. For example, a multi-agency research team, including engineers from NASA, announced a successful concept demonstration of a nuclear power system for space travel in November 2012. [30] Russia also noted at one point that it intended to restart its space reactor program. [31] That said, a comprehensive review of space nuclear reactors (SNR) in 2013 by scholar R. Blake Messer concluded that "no SNR projects are currently being considered on a concrete timetable by the United States, EU, or Japan, nor is there evidence of such plans in Russia or China." [32]

A number of experts believe that HEU-powered systems have the potential to be a viable technology that could be operated safely and without major proliferation risks, since the fuel could be jettisoned in space. Some countries may be reluctant to agree to a ban on civilian HEU if they feel that it may be useful for future space applications. [33] As such, the potential for HEU in space applications remains an important issue.

HEU Use in Icebreaker Propulsion Reactors

Russia is the only country that employs nuclear propulsion for civilian vessels. It launched its first nuclear-powered icebreaker, the Lenin, in 1957. The OK-150 reactors that initially powered Lenin used low-enriched fuel (5%). [34] In order to increase the length of time the ships could operate without refueling, later icebreaker reactors used higher enrichment levels: the OK-900 reactor used 36-45% HEU; the OK-900A-which powers today's five Arktika-class icebreakers-uses 45-75% enriched fuel; [35] and the KLT-40 reactors used for the Taymyr and Vaygach icebreakers and the Sevmorput icebreaking freighter use 90% enriched fuel. [36] The amounts of uranium in the reactor cores are quite significant, with some ships carrying up to 200 kg of U-235. [37] Russia's current fleet is composed of five operational nuclear icebreakers (Rosia, Vaygach, Yamal, 50 let pobedy, and Taymyr), with the Sovetskiy Souz temporarily out of operation. The rest of Russia's fleet has been decommissioned or is in the process of being decommissioned. [38] The recent generation of icebreakers is propelled by KLT-40 and KLT-40M reactors. The prototype floating plant reactor, KLT-40S, has the same design as the KLT-40, but it uses LEU fuel. [39]

Russia is likely to use HEU fuel for its icebreaker fleet for at least another decade. [40] Russia hopes to build more icebreakers. Russian research institutes have proposed studying the use of LEU fuels in icebreaker reactors. In 2012, RosAtomFlot announced a tender for the world's largest icebreaker. The LK-60 vessel, ambitiously scheduled for delivery by the end of 2017, will be 173 meters long and 34 meters wide, substantially larger than the 50 Let Pobedy. The new vessel will likely utilize LEU in its two RITM-200 pressurized water reactors, developed by OKBM Afrikantov. [41]

HEU Use in Fast Reactors and Possible Future Nuclear Power Reactors

Fast breeder reactors are designed to produce more fissile material than they consume. The surplus fissile material is produced by surrounding the core of the reactor with a blanket of fertile U-238, which is transmuted to Pu-239. However, fast reactors do not have to operate as breeders. The same underlying fast reactor technology can be used to burn (or consume) plutonium and other actinides, such as americium and neptunium. Such reactors are known as fast burner reactors.

Some fast reactors use HEU in their seed fuel, which is loaded into the reactor core, although not all fast reactors are designed to use HEU. A MIT study concluded that only fast reactors with a high conversion ratio (above unity) would require either plutonium or HEU. [42] A number of countries, including China, France, Germany, India, Japan, and Russia have constructed or are currently developing fast reactors. [43] Most, if not all such future reactors, will rely on plutonium or U-233-based fuels. India, for example, plans to employ U-233 with a thorium blanket, while fast reactors in the European Union now use mixed oxide (MOX) plutonium fuel. If even a small fraction of these reactors were to be fueled with HEU, it could have significant policy implications. [The expanded use of MOX fuel, made from plutonium recovered during spent fuel reprocessing, is not without its own set of proliferation risks. Similarly, the implementation of thorium-based alternatives would commercialize U-233, which is also a fissile material of proliferation concern because it is weapons-useable]. [44]

Testing new core designs for future fast reactors using MOX fuel requires experiments in critical assemblies; this testing may entail the use of 30-35% enriched uranium along with plutonium to mock up some core designs (alternatively, the cores can be mocked up with plutonium alone). However, these tests can be undertaken in a single or a handful of existing critical assemblies, and will not require enrichment levels higher than 35% (current critical assemblies use up to 90% HEU, interspersed with natural or depleted uranium to mock up lower enrichment levels). [45]

One example of a fast reactor that currently uses HEU fuel is Russia's BN-600 reactor at Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). The 600 MW reactor requires three types of fuel for an inner core, an intermediate core, and an outer core. The enrichment level for these fuels varies between 17%, 20%, and 26% U-235. [46] The BN-600 reactor can also use a hybrid core with 75% uranium and 25% MOX fuel to dispose of some of Russia's plutonium. [47] According to the June 2005 IAEA report, the BN-600 annually consumes 6 tons of uranium fuel with U-235 assays, including 4 tons of HEU. [48] At Beloyarsk NPP, the Russians are also constructing the BN-800 reactor, which current documents indicate will use MOX fuel. [49] According to the plan established by the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement and its 2010 protocol, the BN-600 and BN-800 are to begin disposing of 34 metric tons of surplus Russian weapons-grade plutonium at a rate of 1.3 metric tons per year by 2018. [50]

The critical question for the future is whether the next generation of nuclear power reactors will require HEU. In the United States, where no new nuclear power reactors have been built for over twenty years, the Department of Energy has launched the Gen IV Nuclear Energy Systems International Forum, an initiative to explore new technological approaches to nuclear power generation. [51] The IAEA has also undertaken the Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO), which is likewise exploring new nuclear power technologies. [52] However, none of the reactors under consideration by these initiatives use HEU as fuel.

Fast Reactors, Past and Future

Several countries are considering the construction of fast reactors in the future. In February 2006, the United States, France, and Japan agreed to joint research and development of sodium-cooled fast reactors. The IAEA's International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) has also focused on fast reactors. Although past fast reactors have used HEU fuel, future plans focus on the use of plutonium-based fuels.

The first fast reactor ever constructed was Clementine at Omega Site (TA-2) at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. [53] This 25 kilowatt thermal mercury cooled experimental reactor was proposed and approved in 1945. Clementine reached criticality in late-1946, and began functioning at full power in March 1949. However, it ceased operations from March 1950 to September 1952 after a control rod malfunction. The reactor was dismantled entirely after a fuel rupture in December 1952. It was followed by the EBR-I (Experimental Breeder Reactor-1) at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) in Idaho Falls, Idaho, in the United States. It operated from 1951 to 1964, when it was replaced by the EBR-II, which was initially used to demonstrate a complete breeder-reactor power plant, and later used to test fuels and materials for larger liquid metal reactors. The world's first commercial fast reactor was also constructed in the United States, at the Enrico Fermi NPP near Detroit, Michigan. This 94MW reactor operated from 1963 to 1972. One other fast reactor has been built in the United States, the Fast Flux Test Facility at the Hanford Site in the state of Washington. The Fast Flux Test Facility is not a breeder, but it is a sodium-cooled fast reactor. It was placed on standby status in 1992, and the decision was later made to shut it down. [54]

The United Kingdom, France, Japan, Russia, Kazakhstan, India, Germany, and Italy have also operated fast reactors. The UK fast reactors were both located at Dounreay, Scotland. The first fast reactor, DFR, was an NaK-cooled reactor that operated from 1959 to 1977, while the second Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) was a larger, sodium-cooled reactor that operated from 1974 to 1994. Although Dounreay was able to reprocess plutonium economically, by the late 1980s the British government decided that, as uranium was no longer in short supply, fast reactors would not be needed for commercial electricity generation. Thus, funding for the research program at Dounreay was ended and the PFR shut down in 1994. [55]

France constructed the largest fast reactor completed to date, the 1,200 MW Superphénix at Creys-Malville, near the Swiss border. The Superphénix became operational in 1984, but has been closed since 1997, after a series of public protests against the reactor. The Superphénix was preceded by two other French reactors, the Rapsodie (1967-83) and the Phénix, a small-scale (233 MW) prototype fast reactor, located at Marcoule. Before being shut down in 2009, the Phénix operated on MOX fuel and was mainly used to study the transmutation of nuclear waste. [56] France, Germany, and the United Kingdom will continue to use the Masurca critical assembly, at Cadarache, to test new fast reactor core configurations; these tests are important to validate reactor performance and safety characteristics. At present, HEU is necessary for reactor core mock-ups. While uranium enrichment below 20% will not provide sufficient reactivity for such operations, only up to 35% enriched material is necessary. [57]

The Japanese MOX-fueled fast reactor Monju achieved criticality in April 1994, but has been shuttered since experiencing a sodium leak and coolant fire in December 2005, and a mechanical accident in August 2010. [58] It was further hit by a landslide in September 2013. [59] It has remained embroiled in controversy and grass-roots political contestation due to a cover-up attempt of the 2005 accidents, the suicide of the individual in charge of the internal investigation that resulted, the further suicide of the individual in charge of repairing the 2010 accident damage, a botched safety inspection, and a botched inspection of the emergency power generator in April 2013. [60]

The Soviet Union built a series of fast reactors, beginning with the BR-1 critical assembly in Obninsk in 1955 (fueled with plutonium metal), which was upgraded to 100kW and renamed BR-2 in 1956. The world's first reactor fueled with plutonium oxide fuel, the BR-5, was also built in Obninsk, attaining criticality in 1958. It was known as the BR-10 after a 1964 modification, and operated until December 2002 using 90% enriched uranium fuel. Another Russian institute, the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (SRIAR) in Dimitrovgrad, is home of the BOR-60 fast reactor, which attained criticality in 1968. The BOR-60, built primarily to provide a materials test bed, uses fuel with uranium enriched to 45-75% U235, though it is also capable of operating on a hybrid core using MOX fuel.

The first full-scale fast reactor built by the Soviets was the BN-350 in western Kazakhstan. Fueled by 20-25% HEU, it supplied both electricity and desalinated water to the city of Aktau from 1973 to 1999. The Soviets later built yet another fast reactor, the BN-600, at the Beloyarsk NPP, which has been in operation since 1980. It uses 17-26% enriched fuel. Finally, developmental and design work for the BN-800 fast reactor was completed, and construction started at Beloyarsk in 1986. However, in the 1990s, concerns about the safety of the reactor's design led to the suspension of construction until 2001. [61] A lack of funding led to additional delays following 2006. [62]

Russia is considering a number of fast reactor projects, including construction of a number of additional sodium-cooled BN units (BN-1200, BN-1600, BN-1800), and a lead-cooled unit (BREST-300). [63] Rosatom, Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, has stated that it plans to rely on fast reactors for power generation in the future. The lower House of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, is also supportive of this idea, and has recommended that the Russian government draft a national program for the development of fast neutron reactors. Rosenergoatom, Rosatom's power generating enterprise, projects the construction of up to 20 new liquid-metal-cooled fast reactors by 2020. [64] This plan is widely viewed as overly ambitious, however, given its insufficient funding and the slow pace of the BN-800 reactor's construction.

India's program includes both fast and thermal breeder reactors. Its first fast reactor, the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), attained criticality in 1985; accidents and long repair times left it operating for only 20% of its planned lifespan. India is building a second fast reactor, the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor, at Kalpakkam. The Indian fast reactor program has focused on the use of plutonium fuel, and not HEU. The main rationale that India has offered for its pursuit of fast reactors is that its territory contains little uranium that could be used as fuel for pressurized heavy-water reactors. However, some observers suspect that the country's Department of Atomic Energy will use the weapons-grade plutonium generated in fast reactors to build nuclear weapons. [65]

Germany's two fast reactors were both closed in 1991. The KompaktenatriumgekühlteReaktoranlage (KNK II) prototype fast reactor in Karlsruhe achieved criticality in 1977. Construction of the larger SNR-300 reactor at Kalkar was completed in 1985, but for political reasons the reactor was never operated, and has since been decommissioned. [66] Italy, also for political reasons, halted construction of its ProvaElementiCombustibile (PEC) test reactor in 1987. Its Tapiro fast reactor, which first achieved criticality in 1971, is still in operation, and uses HEU fuel.

In addition to the general research on fast reactors taking place within the framework of the Gen IV and INPRO programs, several countries have more concrete plans for fast reactor construction. China has built a Zero-Power Fast Critical Reactor in Chengdu, in cooperation with Russia, and has begun to operate a prototype fast reactor, the CEFR, in Beijing (Russia has already provided HEU fuel for the CEFR). The initial load was composed of almost 240 kg of HEU (64.4%), provided by Russia, but the use of MOX fuel is planned for future loadings. [67] The follow-up to the CEFR- the China Prototype Fast Reactor (CDFR) - slated for development in the 2020 timeframe, may use MOX fuel. [68] India plans to construct another fast reactor, and South Korea has developed a design for a modular fast reactor for export [The Korea Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor (KALIMER)]. Both of these reactors will use plutonium-based, rather than HEU-based, fuel. These cases reinforce the trend away from civilian use of highly enriched uranium.

Sources:
[1] Frank von Hippel "A Comprehensive Approach to Elimination of Highly-Enriched-Uranium from All Nuclear-Reactor Fuel Cycles," Science and Global Security, 12 (2004): pp. 137-164, 2004, p. 138.
[2] S.C. Mo, et al., "Modification of the RINSC LEU Core to Increase Fluxes for BNCT Study," Proc. 2000 International Meeting on Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors, Las Vegas, Nevada, October 1-6, 2000. www.rertr.anl.gov, RERTR Meeting Archive, 2000.
[3] Heracles Working Group, "The Development of Disperse UMO as a High Performance Research Reactor Fuel in Europe," paper presented at the European Research Reactor Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, April 21-25, 2013, www.euronuclear.org.
[4] Armando Travelli, Status and Progress of the RERTR Program in the Year 2002," presented to the 24th International Meeting on Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR 2002), San Carlos do Bariloche, Argentina, November 3-8, 2002, cited in Nuclear Threat Initiative, "Securing the Bomb 2005: Securing Nuclear Warheads and Materials, Converting Research Reactors," www.nti.org; "Highly enriched uranium in research reactors," prepared by the organizers of the June 2006 Oslo Symposium on Minimization of HEU in the Civilian Nuclear Sector, www.armscontrol.org; Alexander Glaser and Frank von Hippel, "Global Cleanout: Reducing the Threat of HEU-Fuelled Nuclear Terrorism," Arms Control Today, January/February 2006, www.armscontrol.org.
[5] Taiwan has its own reactor, but is not counted in the 54 country total presented above. International Atomic Energy Agency, "Research Reactors," January 23, 2014, http://nucleus.iaea.org.
[6] The International Panel on Fissile Materials, "Global Fissile Material Report 2007: Developing the Technical Basis for Policy Initiatives to Secure and Irreversibly Reduce Stocks of Nuclear Weapons and Fissile Materials," October 2007, p. 3, http://fissilematerials.org; The International Panel on Fissile Materials, "Global Fissile Material Report 2013: Increasing Transparency of Nuclear Warhead and Fissile Material Stocks as a Step toward Disarmament," October 22, 2013, p. 14, http://fissilematerials.org.
[7] National Nuclear Security Administration, "GTRI's Convert Program: Minimizing the Use of Highly Enriched Uranium," NNSA Fact Sheet, April 12, 2013, www.nnsa.energy.gov.
[8] Alexander Glaser and Frank von Hippel, "Global Cleanout: Reducing the Threat of HEU-Fuelled Nuclear Terrorism," Arms Control Today, January/February 2006, www.armscontrol.org.
[9] Alexander Glaser and Frank von Hippel, "Global Cleanout: Reducing the Threat of HEU-Fuelled Nuclear Terrorism," Arms Control Today, January/February 2006, www.armscontrol.org.
[10] Yet another type of reactor is the periodic-pulse reactor, which operates with frequently repeating pulses, and takes an intermediate position between pulse reactors and constant power reactors. The world's only periodic-pulse reactor is at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia.
[11] Robinson and Ferguson, "An Analysis of the Technical and Political Dimensions of Highly Enriched Uranium Use," Nuclear Threat Initiative, March 2006, pp. 30-35.
[12] Alexander Glaser and Frank von Hippel, "Global Cleanout: Reducing the Threat of HEU-Fuelled Nuclear Terrorism," Arms Control Today, January/February 2006, www.armscontrol.org.
[13] Paul Osborne, "Russia: Critical Assemblies and Pulsed Reactors," in Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing Out Highly Enriched Uranium, Alan J. Kuperman, ed., (New York: Routledge, 2013), 162-172.
[14] International Atomic Energy Agency, "Annex VII: Production and Supply of Molybdenum-99," Annex to the Nuclear Technology Review 2010, 2010, p. 150, www.iaea.org.
[15] G. Ball, "Status Update on the 99Mo HEU/LEU Conversion Project in South Africa," presentation given at the Mo-99 2013 Topical Meeting on Molybdenum-99 Technological Development conference, April 1-4, 2013, Chicago, U.S.A., p. 14, http://mo99.ne.anl.gov.
[16] Noted as "scheduled to cease in 2016," Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, "Research Reactors," July 24, 2013, http://nuclearsafety.gc.ca. Note that several of the HEU source irradiators indicated in the mo-99 supply chain for the U.S. diagram in the following have since been converted to use LEU instead, but see: Anya Loukianova, "What the Doctor Ordered: Eliminating Weapons-Grade Uranium From Medical Isotope Production," September 5, 2012, www.nti.org; Parrish Staples, "Progress Towards Eliminating Use of Highly Enriched Uranium in Medical Isotope Production and Research and Test Reactor Fuel and Repatriation of Excess HEU," presentation given at the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board Meeting, June 4, 2013, p. 13, http://dels.nas.edu.
[17] Parrish Staples, "Progress Towards Eliminating Use of Highly Enriched Uranium in Medical Isotope Production and Research and Test Reactor Fuel and Repatriation of Excess HEU," presentation given at the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board Meeting, June 4, 2013, p. 13, http://dels.nas.edu.
[18] Miles Pomper, "The 2012 Nuclear Security Summit and HEU Minimization," paper prepared for the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, January 2012.
[19] Jared Berenter, "Argentina: Medical Isotope Production," Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing Out Highly Enriched Uranium, ed. Alan J. Kuperman (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), p. 31; Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Nuclear Energy Agency, "The Supply of Medical Radioisotopes: An Economic Study of the Molybdenum-99 Supply Chain," NEA No. 6967, pp. 35, 65, www.oecd-nea.org; Chloe Colby, "South Africa: Reactor Fuel and Medical Isotope Production," Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing Out Highly Enriched Uranium, ed. Alan J. Kuperman (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), p. 42.
[20] James Harvey, "Alternative Production of Mo99," presentation given at the 2013 SNMMI Winter Meeting, New Orleans, United States, p. 3, www.snm.org.
[21] E. Bradley, K. Alldred, P. Adelfang, N. Ramamoorthy, and D. Ridikas, "IAEA Activities to Support the Transition of Molybdenum-99 Production Away from the Use of Highly Enriched Uranium," paper presented at the 2010 RERTR international meeting, Lisbon, Portugal, October 10-14, 2010, www.rertr.anl.gov; G. Ball, "Status Update on the 99Mo HEU/LEU Conversion Project in South Africa," presentation given at the Mo-99 2013 Topical Meeting on Molybdenum-99 Technological Development conference, April 1-4, 2013, Chicago, U.S.A., p. 14, http://mo99.ne.anl.gov.
[22] R. Blake Messer, "Space Reactors," Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing out Highly Enriched Uranium, ed. Alan J. Kuperman (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), p. 211-212, 216-217.
[23] R. Blake Messer, "Space Reactors," Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing out Highly Enriched Uranium, ed. Alan J. Kuperman (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), p. 211-213.
[24] R. Blake Messer, "Space Reactors," Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing out Highly Enriched Uranium, ed. Alan J. Kuperman (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), p. 213.
[25] R. Blake Messer, "Space Reactors," Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing out Highly Enriched Uranium, ed. Alan J. Kuperman (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), p. 213.
[26] R. Blake Messer, "Space Reactors," Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing out Highly Enriched Uranium, ed. Alan J. Kuperman (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), p. 211, 213-214.
[27] Committee on Science Opportunities, Launching Science: Science Opportunities Provided by NASA's Constellation System (Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2008), p. 18.
[28] National Aeronautic and Space Administration, "Prometheus Project Final Report," October 1, 2005, p. 4, http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov.
[29] Alexander Glaser and Frank von Hippel, "Global Cleanout: Reducing the Threat of HEU-Fuelled Nuclear Terrorism," Arms Control Today, January/February 2006, www.armscontrol.org.
[30] National Nuclear Security Administration, "Novel Power System Demonstrated for Space Travel," NNSA Blog, November 26, 2012, www.nnsa.energy.gov.
[31] "Nuclear 'a stepping stone' to space exploration," Word Nuclear News, July 27, 2012, www.world-nuclear-news.org.
[32] R. Blake Messer, "Space Reactors," Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing out Highly Enriched Uranium, ed. Alan J. Kuperman (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), p. 220.
[33] R. Blake Messer, "HEU in Space Nuclear Reactors: Policy History and Prospects," University of Texas, April 2011, www.heuphaseout.org.
[34] Nikolay Khlopkin, Boris Pologikh, Yuriy Sivintsev, and Vladimir Shmelev, "Preliminary Study of Sea Radioactive Contamination from Dumped Nuclear Reactors," Kurchatov Institute Report No. 31/1-1949-93, 1993, as cited in Ole Reistad, Morten Bremer Mærli, and Nils Bøhmer, "Russian Naval Nuclear Fuel and Reactors: Dangerous Unknowns," Nonproliferation Review, vol. 12, no. 1 (March 2005), pp. 174-176.
[35] Data on OK-900 and OK-900A from NikolayMelnikov, Vladimir Konukhin, VadimNaumov, Pavel Amosov, Sergey Gusak, Andrey Naumov, YuriyKatkov, Yuriy Smirnov, AleksandrOrlov, and YuriyRybin, "Dolgovremmennoyebezopasnoyekhraneniyeotrabotavshegoyadernogotoplivasudovykhyadernykhustanovok v Severo-ZapadnomregioneRossii," GornyyinstitutKolskogonauchnogotsentraRossiyskoyakademiinaukRossiya, p. 4.
[36] Ole Reistad, Morten Bremer Mærli, and Nils Bøhmer, "Russian Naval Nuclear Fuel and Reactors: Dangerous Unknowns," Nonproliferation Review, vol. 12, no. 1 (March 2005), pp. 181-183.
[37] NikolayMelnikov, Vladimir Konukhin, VadimNaumov, Pavel Amosov, Sergey Gusak, Andrey Naumov, YuriyKatkov, Yuriy Smirnov, AleksandrOrlov, and YuriyRybin, "Dolgovremmennoyebezopasnoyekhraneniyeotrabotavshegoyadernogotoplivasudovykhyadernykhustanovok v Severo-ZapadnomregioneRossii," GornyyinstitutKolskogonauchnogotsentraRossiyskoyakademiinaukRossiya, p. 4.
[38] Christine Egnatuk in Alan J. Kuperman, Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security - The Challenges of Phasing Out Highly Enriched Uranium (London: Routledge, 2013), p. 73.
[39] Christine Egnatuk in Alan J. Kuperman, Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security - The Challenges of Phasing Out Highly Enriched Uranium (London: Routledge, 2013), pp. 75.
[40] Christine Egnatuk in Alan J. Kuperman, Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security - The Challenges of Phasing Out Highly Enriched Uranium (London: Routledge, 2013), p. 79.
[41] "Russia plans largest icebreaker," World Nuclear News, July 4, 2012, www.world-nuclear-news.org; "Small Nuclear Reactors for Power and Icebreaking," World Nuclear News, October 7, 2011, www.world-nuclear-news.org.
[42] Massachusetts Institute of Technology Nuclear Fuel Cycle Study Advisory Committee, "The Future of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: an Interdisciplinary MIT Study," 2011, p. 12, retrieved at: http://mitei.mit.edu.
[43] IAEA Fast Reactor Database, www-frdb.iaea.org.
[44] A good discussion of the advantages and drawbacks of U-233 can be found in the following: James J. Ford, C. Richard Schuller, Controlling Threats to Nuclear Security: a Holistic Model (Washington: National Defense University, 1997), p. 111; Amory B. Lovins, "Thorium Cycles and Proliferation," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists vol. 35, no. 2, p. 17, February 1979.
[45] Massimo Salvatores, Amine Khalil, Gilles Bignan, Robert Hill, Robert Jacqmin, and Jean Tommasi, "Advanced Fast Reactor Development Requirements: is there any need for HEU?" Nuclear Engineering and Design, vol. 237, no. 8, April 2007: 814-822.
[46] Elemash, "BN-600 Nuclear Fuel," 2004, www.elemash.ru.
[47] The U.S.-Russian plutonium disposition program intends to burn 34 t of plutonium from dismantled warheads in commercial reactors. Russia tested the possibility of using MOX fuel fabricated from this plutonium in the BN-600. The tests with the MOX fuel were successful. However, the use of MOX fuel to burn plutonium from nuclear warheads depends on the prospects of the Pu disposition program and on the agreement between the United States and Russia to use the BN-600 for this program. So far, the United States has indicated a preference for using light-water reactors to burn MOX fuel under this program.
[48] Management of high enriched uranium for peaceful purposes: Status and trends, IAEA-TECDOC-1452, June 2005, p. 11.
[49] B. A. Vasilyev, D. L. Zverev, V. N. Yershov, S. G. Kalyakin, V. M. Poplavskiy, V. I. Rachkov, O. M. Sarayev, "Development of Fast Sodium Reactor Technology in Russia," presented at the International Conference on Fast Reactors and Related Fuel Cycles: Safe Technologies and Sustainable Scenarios, Paris, France, March 4-7, 2013, p. 5, www.iaea.org.
[50] V. Rybachenkov, "Disposition of Excess Weapon Grade Plutonium - Problem and Prospects" Center for Arms Control, Energy, and Environmental Studies, January 17, 2012, www.armscontrol.ru; Daniel Horner, "Russia, U.S. Sign Plutonium Disposition Pact," Arms Control Association, May 2010, www.armscontrol.org; World Nuclear Association, "Fast Neutron Reactors," March 15, 2013, www.world-nuclear.org; Atomenergoproekt, "BN-800 NPP," 2011, p. 3, www.spbaep.ru.
[51] Gen IV Nuclear Energy Systems, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy, Science, and Technology, http://gen-iv.ne.doe.gov.
[52] International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Power Technology Development Section, www.iaea.org.
[53] Thomas B. Cochran, Harold A. Feiveson, and Frank von Hippel, "Fast Reactor Development in the United States," in Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status (Research Report 8, International Panel on Fissile Materials, February 2010), 90.
[54] Thomas B. Cochran, Harold A. Feiveson, and Frank von Hippel, "Fast Reactor Development in the United States," in Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status (Research Report 8, International Panel on Fissile Materials, February 2010), 95, 98.
[55] Walt Patterson, "Fast Breeder Reactors in the United Kingdom," in Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status (Research Report 8, International Panel on Fissile Materials, February 2010), 73-88.
[56] Mycle Schneider, "Fast Breeder Reactors in France," in Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status (Research Report 8, International Panel on Fissile Materials, February 2010), 17-32.
[57] Massimo Salvatores, Amine Khalil, Gilles Bignan, Robert Hill, Robert Jacqmin, and Jean Tommasi, "Advanced Fast Reactor Development Requirements: is there any need for HEU?" Cadarache/Argonne, April 2006, pp. 9, 15, www.7ni.mfa.no.
[58] Jun Hongo, "Monju: Generating Only Misfortune," The Japan Times, May 15, 2013, www.japantimes.co.jp.
[59] "Landslide at MOX-fueled Japan Nuclear Plant- AP: Emergency Data Transmission from Monju Stops as Typhoon Hits- Kyodo: Can't Access Site Due to Mudslides, Reactor Temperatures Unknown," Energy News, September 16, 2013, http://enenews.com www.japantimes.co.jp.
[60] Jun Hongo, "Monju: Generating Only Misfortune," The Japan Times, May 15, 2013, www.japantimes.co.jp; "Black Smoke Detected from Monju Reactor During Test Operations," Japan Today, May 2, 2013, www.japantoday.com; "Landslide at MOX-fueled Japan Nuclear Plant- AP: Emergency Data Transmission from Monju Stops as Typhoon Hits- Kyodo: Can't Access Site Due to Mudslides, Reactor Temperatures Unknown," Energy News, September 16, 2013, http://enenews.com.
[61] "Fast Neutron Reactors," OAO OKBM Afrikantov, www.okbm.nnov.ru.
[62] "Large Fast Reactor Approved for Beloyarsk," World Nuclear News, June 27, 2012, www.world-nuclear-news.org.
[63] "Overview of SFR in Russia," presentation given at the Second Joint GIF-IAEA/INPRO Workshop on Safety Aspects of Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactors, November 30 - December 1, 2011, pp.7-8, www.iaea.org; V. M. Poplavsky, A. M. Tsybulya, Yu. E. Bagdasarov, B. A. Vasilyev, Yu. L. Kamanin, S. L. Osipov, N. G. Kuzavkov, V. N. Yershov, M. R. Ashirmetov, "Advanced Sodium Fast Reactor Power Unit Concept," presented at the International Conference on Fast Reactors and Related Fuel Cycles: Challenges and Opportunities, Kyoto, Japan, December 7-11, 2009, p. 2, www-pub.iaea.org; International Atomic Energy Agency, "Liquid Metal Cooled Reactors: Experience in Design and Operation," IAEA-TECDOC-1569, December 2007, p. 22. www-pub.iaea.org; V. S. Smirnov, "Safety Measures of a Power Unit with the BREST-OD-300 Reactor," presented at the International Conference on Fast Reactors and Related Fuel Cycles: Safe Technologies and Sustainable Scenarios, March 4-7, 2012, Paris, France, p.5, www.iaea.org.
[64] International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles, International Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Power Technology Development Section, www.iaea.org.
[65] M.V. Ramana, "India and Fast Breeder Reactors," in Fast Breeder Reactor Programs: History and Status (Research Report 8, International Panel on Fissile Materials, February 2010), 37-48.
[66] "Fast Reactors: Unsafe, Uneconomical, and Unable to Resolve the Problems of Nuclear Power," Public Citizen, www.fas.org.
[67] Hui Zhang, "Approaches to Strengthen China's Nuclear Security," Cambridge: Project on Managing the Atom, p. 2, http://belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu.
[68] "China's Nuclear Fuel Cycle," World Nuclear Organization, September 2013, www.world-nuclear.org.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

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The article is part of a collection examining civilian HEU reduction and elimination efforts. It details the principal uses for HEU in the civilian nuclear sector, and examines remaining challenges to reducing and eliminating the use of civil HEU.

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