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Administrator D'Agostino's Remarks on NNSA's Role in Implementing President Obama's Nuclear Security Agenda

June 18, 2010

I am very pleased to be here in Prague to highlight the critical role my organization – the National Nuclear Security Administration – plays in implementing the historic nuclear security agenda President Obama outlined last year.

As you recall, last April the President came to Hradčany Square to give his first foreign policy speech, during his first overseas trip as President.

He used that speech to rally the global community to stand together to tackle what he called "the most immediate and extreme threat to global security" -- the danger of a terrorist acquiring nuclear weapons. This is a threat to us all – whether we live in Washington, DC or here in Prague.

One year later, President Obama came back and signed the New START Treaty, under which the United States and Russia agreed to reduce their arsenal of deployed strategic weapons by 30 percent.

The nuclear security agenda outlined by President Obama here in Prague is a core part of NNSA’s national and international security mission. We take our commitment to promoting nuclear security around the world very seriously and are grateful to the more than 100 countries that have partnered with us to improve global security.

Through our Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Program, NNSA leverages the equipment and expertise developed by our laboratories and production sites over the last 60 years to detect, secure and dispose of surplus weapons-usable nuclear and radiological materials.

Since the President laid out his agenda, we at NNSA have accelerated and expanded many of our nuclear nonproliferation programs.

Our FY2011 Budget Request includes close to $2.7 billion for Nuclear Nonproliferation programs -- an increase of 25.7 percent over FY2010.

Since the President’s speech in April 2009, NNSA has removed or disposed of 613 kilograms of nuclear weapons-usable highly enriched uranium fuel and plutonium (enough for over 24 nuclear weapons) from 12 countries.

• This included the complete removal of all weapons-usable HEU from 5 countries.

In order to minimize the use of HEU in civilian nuclear programs, NNSA and its international partners have shut down or convert 9 research reactors that were using HEU in 2009.

In order to prevent terrorists from acquiring materials that could be used in a so-called “dirty bomb,” NNSA recovered approximately 4,000 radiological sources containing more than 50,000 decayed curies in 2009.

As part of our global campaign to strengthen international capabilities to prevent nuclear smuggling, NNSA upgraded physical security at more than 185 vulnerable buildings around the world that contained high-priority nuclear and radioactive material.

We provided radiation monitoring equipment at nine major container seaports and 106 international border crossings.

Over the years, the Czech Republic has been one of our strongest partners.

Together we have removed 19.5 kg of fresh HEU and 80 kg of HEU in spent nuclear fuel from the Rez and VR-1 Vrabec research reactors. The fuel, which originated in Russia, was returned there to be downblended or placed in long term secure storage.

We have worked together to converted one Czech research reactor from HEU to LEU, with a second reactor to be converted in September 2010.

We have also worked to improve physical security of nuclear materials at the Rez Research Reactor.

And, since 2009, we have worked together to enhance the Czech Republic’s national system of export controls aimed at preventing WMD proliferation.

I am pleased to report to you today, that his cooperation is continuing, indeed expanding.

We continue to ship Russian origin HEU back to Russia. Our last fuel shipment from the Czech Republic will be in 2013.

NNSA and the Czech Republic recently agreed to launch a new, expanded cooperation on radiological protection in April 2010 and will soon begin implementing that agreement.

And, as I mentioned a moment ago, a second HEU-fueled research reactor will be converted in September 2010.

Finally, I would like to talk to you about the intersection between nuclear energy and nuclear security. In his Prague speech, President Obama emphasized the need to strengthen the international safeguards system. This is a task that will grow more important as more countries turn to nuclear energy to address growing energy needs.

Through our Next Generation Safeguards Initiative we are working to develop new techniques and technologies to modernize those international safeguards and make them more effective in preventing countries from diverting nuclear materials and technologies to military purposes.

Companies like Westinghouse are familiar with this challenge have considerable experience working on international safeguards and will play a role in this effort.

So, it is a real pleasure to be here in Prague to discuss these and other nuclear security issues with you. I look forward to your questions.