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U.S., Russia Secure Latvian Uranium

Through a joint effort between the United States, Russia, Latvia and the International Atomic Energy Agency, three kilograms of highly enriched uranium that could be used in a nuclear device was returned from Russia to Latvia, according to an Energy Department press release issued yesterday (see GSN, May 5).

The weapon-usable uranium had been supplied to Latvia by the Soviet Union for use in a research reactor in Salispals, near Riga. The reactor was shut down seven years ago, and security over its fuel was improved with the help of the Energy Department.

The effort was part of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative, which has returned 57 kilograms of highly enriched uranium to Russia from former Eastern-bloc countries and 47 kilograms from Serbia.

“The recovery, return and eventual elimination of highly enriched uranium is an important component of the administration's Global Threat Reduction Initiative campaign to reduce the threat posed by dangerous nuclear and radiological material worldwide,” said agency chief Linton Brooks. “We applaud the strong leadership of Latvia for taking measures to secure this material and working cooperatively with the United States, Russia and the IAEA to successfully return it to Russia” (Energy Department release, May 25).

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