Seoul, South Korea: U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today joined Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, Mrs. Joelle Milquet, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Uri Rosenthal from the Netherlands, and Dr Bernard. Bigot, head of French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) from France, in announcing their common understanding to help minimize the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the production of medical isotopes.
The new Four-party Joint Statement endorsed by Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United States -- provides a framework for cooperation on minimizing for the future the use of HEU in the production of the medical isotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) while still ensuring a reliable supply of this lifesaving radioisotope. Mo-99 is used to produce a medical isotope that is used in more than 100,000 medical procedures every day. This crucial medial isotope is currently produced at aging facilities primarily using HEU. The announcement was made during the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea where world leaders are meeting this week to renew commitments to global nuclear security.
"The effort we are announcing today is important for two reasons: it will help make our citizens safer and it will provide continued access to an important radioisotope that is helping to diagnose heart disease, study organs, and more," said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "I want to again thank my colleagues for their cooperation on this issue, and I look forward to continuing our important work together."
"Our countries share a common goal to assure security: the minimization of HEU in the world, while ensuring that the worldwide supply of radio-isotopes will be met at all times for the benefit of every patient in need. The conversion to LEU targets is also a social, economic and technical challenge. A challenge that given our mutual long history and extensive experience in the nuclear domain, as well as our European know how in the production of radio-isotopes, we are all convinced will be successfully met in a smart and responsible way" said Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, Mrs Joëlle Milquet.
“The issue of minimising the production of highly enriched uranium has been on the political agenda for a long time. We are determined to contribute to that global political goal. At the same time, we have to take public health into consideration since uranium is used to make nuclear pharmaceuticals. These products are essential for patients worldwide, for instance for diagnosis and treatment.” said Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal.
"We have here a perfect example demonstrating that a global partnership over continents allows, for the benefit of all stakeholders, to fulfill concurrently several mandatory objectives such as the implementation of LEU technologies, the smart and responsible management of HEU stockpiles and, above all, the securing of radioisotope production in Europe for the benefit of European and US medical community and patients" declared Dr Bigot, head of the French CEA.
The four-party joint statement outlines a framework for Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United States to collaborate in efforts promote in HEU minimization while assuring a reliable supply of medical isotopes for cancer and heart disease patients.