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US ships last Romanian uranium to secure site

US ships last Romanian uranium to secure site

The last bomb-grade uranium has been shipped out of Romania as part of a U.S.-Russian nuclear nonproliferation program, the U.S. Energy Department reported Tuesday.
Officials at the department's National Nuclear Security Administration said 118 pounds of highly enriched uranium were taken from two research reactors in Romania and flown to Russia for secure storage.
Russia had provided the uranium years ago. The NNSA, working with Romanian officials, moved all the highly enriched uranium, or HEU, of U.S.-origin out of Romania in 2008.
The effort in Romania is part of a broader program to return all the HEU that had been provided to various countries by either the former Soviet Union or by the United States for civilian nuclear research back to the originating countries where the material can be kept in more secure locations.
A crude nuclear bomb can be made from as little as 33 pounds of highly enriched uranium. Nuclear nonproliferation watchdog groups say lax security is a problem at many of the research reactors around the world where HEU continues to be located.
In the recent shipments, 52 pounds of HEU were taken from a research reactor in Magurele, Romania, and another 66 pounds were removed from a reactor in Pitesti, Romania. The uranium was shipped in special containers to two separate secure sites in Russia, the U.S. officials said.
"With these shipments, all HEU has been successfully removed from Romania," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino in a statement released Tuesday. The shipments were completed this week, but the announced was not more specific on the timetable.
President Barack Obama outlined this year a U.S. commitment to speed up the movement of vulnerable nuclear material from research reactors around the world.
With the Romanian shipments, a total 1,896 pounds of Russian-origin HEU has been returned to Russia, from 11 countries, the NNSA said.
Watchdog groups say there remain large amounts of uranium suitable for bomb-making at research reactors in numerous countries.
While the pace of removing HEU from research reactors has stepped up, there still exists "weak security at many of the roughly 130 research reactors worldwide still using HEU fuel," said a 2008 report by Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.


Updated : 2021-07-25 15:52 GMT+08:00