Statement of Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative On the Removal of HEU Spent Fuel from Serbia
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced the removal of 13 kilograms (28 pounds) of Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) spent fuel and 2.5 metric tons of low-enriched uranium spent fuel from the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences in Serbia, a project that involved the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) as a key partner. Former Senator Sam Nunn, co-chairman of NTI, released the below statement in support of today’s announcement:
“I congratulate the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative, the Republic of Serbia, the Russian Federation, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the entire international team of sponsors and donors on the removal of all spent nuclear fuel from Serbia today. This is a significant achievement that will make the world safer and reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.
“In 2002, NTI committed up to $5 million to help seal a deal between the United States, Russia and Serbia to remove two and a half nuclear bombs worth of vulnerable fresh HEU fuel from the Vinca Institute. The Serbian government also needed assistance to address problems related to the 2.4 tons of highly radioactive spent reactor fuel at Vinca and to decommission the Vinca research reactor. The U.S. government asked NTI to fill this gap. We are proud that NTI has been an active, contributing partner to the Vinca spent fuel repatriation project every step of the way.
“This program is a prime example of the cooperation needed to secure and clean-out nuclear material worldwide. It is also an example of how governments, the private sector and international organizations can work together to find innovative and effective solutions to make each of us safer.
“We know that terrorists are seeking nuclear weapons and materials and that there is highly enriched uranium in dozens of countries around the world. Wherever there is vulnerable nuclear material, global security is at risk, so we must dramatically accelerate our efforts to clean out this material and to ensure that there are no weak links in nuclear security anywhere in the world. “We are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe to secure nuclear materials around the world to the highest standards. In this case, cooperation won.”