WASHINGTON D.C - The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) announced today the removal of 36 kilograms (approximately 80 pounds) of highly enriched uranium (HEU) spent fuel from the Institute of Nuclear Physics (INP) in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The HEU was transported via two air shipments to a secure facility in Russia for permanent disposition. This complex operation was the culmination of a multi-year effort between the United States, Kazakhstan, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“The removal of this HEU is yet another example of how the international community continues to work together to prevent the threat of nuclear terrorism,” said DOE/NNSA Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington. “This cooperation reduces the chance that such material can fall into the hands of terrorists.”
In September 2014, approximately 10 kilograms (approximately 22 pounds) of HEU fresh fuel was returned to Russia from the INP. The HEU was shipped to a facility in Russia where it will be down-blended to low enriched uranium (LEU). Over the next several years, DOE/NNSA plans to work with Kazakhstan, Russia and the IAEA to return approximately 50 additional kilograms of HEU to Russia - thereby eliminating all HEU research reactor fuel from Kazakhstan.
The U.S., Kazakhstan and Russia share a long history of cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation issues. DOE/NNSA and INP also have cooperated to return more than 70 kilograms (150 pounds) of HEU spent fuel to Russia and to downblend more than 30 kilograms of HEU fresh fuel at the Ulba Metallurgical Facility in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan. DOE/NNSA and INP also are working together to convert INP's research reactor from the use of HEU to LEU fuel. Additional cooperation between the U.S. and Kazakhstan includes improving security for nuclear and radiological materials, constructing a Nuclear Security Training Center at INP that will serve Kazakhstan’s entire nuclear industry, developing nuclear security curriculum, providing radiation detection equipment at Kazakhstan ports of entry as well as associated training and support for sustainment of equipment, and cooperating on safeguards implementation and training for Kazakhstani officials on export controls.
A fact sheet on NNSA’s efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism is available here.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.
Media contact: NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371