Romania has become the latest nation to be stripped of highly enriched uranium, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration announced today (see GSN, Oct. 7, 2008).
The semiautonomous Energy Department agency assisted in repatriation of the Russian-origin material. Fifty-two pounds of spent nuclear fuel from a research reactor at Magurele was flown to a secure site near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, while another 66 pounds of fresh material from a reactor at Pitesti was flown to a secure site near Dimitrovgrad.
All U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium had been taken out of the European nation by last year.
"With these shipments, all HEU has been successfully removed from Romania,” NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino said in a press release. “This represents a major step forward in NNSA’s ongoing efforts to implement President [Barack] Obama’s unprecedented nuclear security agenda by securing vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide and reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism."
The agency had not previously moved spent highly enriched uranium by air, the release states.
"The successful use of an airplane to return spent fuel to Russia opens new opportunities to accelerate our schedule of spent fuel shipments," according to D'Agostino.
Other nations that no longer possess highly enriched uranium are Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Denmark, Greece, Latvia, the Philippines, Portugal, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Thailand.
Nearly 1,900 pounds of Russian-origin highly enriched uranium fuel have been repatriated from 11 nations under the NNSA Global Threat Reduction Initiative. The program seeks to secure or eliminate nuclear and radiological materials around the world that could be vulnerable to diversion for acts of terrorism.
Obama in April said he would press to safeguard all vulnerable nuclear stocks within four years (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration release, June 30).