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U.S., Russia Sign Agreement on Recovery of Russian-Origin HEU From Research Reactors

The United States and Russia signed an agreement today to recover Russian-origin fresh and spent highly enriched uranium fuel from research reactors around the world, according to the Associated Press (see GSN, May 26).

“Together, the United States and the Russian Federation are working to reduce the global threat posed by unsecured nuclear and radiological materials,” U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said after signing the agreement, which is part of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative Abraham announced yesterday (Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press, May 27).

Under the agreement, the United States pledges to help fund the recovery effort. Russia will supply experts and equipment to retrieve material from 20 reactors in 17 countries and return it to secure storage sites within Russia, said Federal Atomic Energy Agency spokesman Nikolai Shingarev. The initial stage of the effort will focus on removing materials from 13 reactors, with those in Belarus, Poland, Romania, Ukraine and Uzbekistan to be given high priority, according to Shingarev.

While no official cost estimates for the project have been given, nuclear experts reportedly said that it would probably cost $80 million over two years (Simon Saradzhyan, Moscow Times, May 27).

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