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Monthly IAEA Checks of Y-12 Plant Could End by 2009

The International Atomic Energy Agency by 2009 may stop making monthly checks of 10 tons of weapon-grade uranium at the Y-12 plant in Tennessee if plans go through to blend down the material so it could not be used in nuclear arms, the Associated Press reported yesterday (see GSN, Dec. 20, 2004).

The U.N. agency has been inspecting the vault containing the uranium since the Clinton administration declared the material surplus in 1993 and pledged it would not be used for weapons.

Plans call for the uranium to be blended down for use in nuclear reactors. Work is to begin this year and be completed by 2009, Y-12 spokesman Steven Wyatt told the Knoxville News Sentinel. IAEA officials would verify the work was finished and then end inspections at the vault, according to AP.

Additional weapons materials at the nuclear weapons plant are not expected to be placed under IAEA watch.

“At this point, there are no plans to place additional U.S. (highly enriched uranium) in storage safeguards,” Wyatt said (Associated Press, March 20).

NTI Analysis