WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) recently concluded a successful fiscal year of U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel returns by returning over 20 pounds of U.S.-origin "spent" nuclear fuel to the United States from Germany. This spent fuel shipment, transported by ship and rail under secret and secure conditions, was the fourth U.S.-origin HEU spent fuel shipment completed by NNSA during the past year.
The four shipments returned a total of almost 115 pounds (52 kg.) of HEU spent fuel, and eliminated all U.S-origin HEU eligible for return from four additional countries – Argentina, Portugal, Romania, and Germany.
"The complete removal of all eligible U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium from Argentina, Portugal, Romania, and Germany is another major milestone in NNSA's cooperative effort to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation and demonstrates the U.S. government's strong international commitment to nonproliferation," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino.
This mission was completed as part of NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), which works to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials located at civilian sites worldwide. Through GTRI, the United States works in close cooperation with individual research reactors and foreign governments to return weapons-grade nuclear material to Department of Energy and NNSA sites in the United States.
These shipments support the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, which expands international partnerships addressing the global threat of nuclear terrorism. The countries with which GTRI worked to complete these shipments are key partners in the initiative and their participation in NNSA's program to remove the fuel demonstrates their strong commitment to the initiative's goals.
Since its inception in the 1990s, the U.S.-origin fuel removal program, now part of GTRI, has returned 45 shipments of U.S.-origin fuel from 27 countries, for a total of over 1,190 kilograms (2,600 pounds) of HEU fuel – enough for over 45 nuclear weapons – and more than 8,500 fuel assemblies.
The program has removed all eligible U.S.-origin HEU fuel from the following 16 countries – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Thailand.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized 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 U.S. and abroad.
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