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Presented at the Media Briefing IAEA General Conference - NNSA's Nonproliferation Efforts

September 21, 2006

Presented at the Media Briefing IAEA General Conference - NNSA's Nonproliferation Efforts
Presented by William Tobey, Deputy Administrator, NNSA - September 21, 2006

Presented at the Media Briefing IAEA General Conference - NNSA's Nonproliferation EffortsPresented by William Tobey, Deputy Administrator, NNSA

I’m Will Tobey, the Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Our job is to detect and prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Together with more than 70 countries, we work to secure and dispose of dangerous nuclear and radiological materials.

In a speech to the General Conference, Secretary Bodman highlighted the important work we do to prevent nuclear terrorism. I am here today to provide additional details about this work and take your questions.

Something particularly important we have been engaged in is the Bratislava Initiative. Established in February 2005 by Presidents Bush and Putin, this initiative ensures high-level direction for our nuclear security partnership.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we have intensified our efforts to keep nuclear material and nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists and other networks and states that sponsor them.

The NNSA has accelerated implementation of a four-pronged strategy to deny them materials, technology and the expertise needed to develop nuclear weapons. The first is:

1. Account for and secure nuclear material in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

  • To date, NNSA has secured over 80 percent of the sites where materials are stored, and is working now to secure the balance of these sites to which we have access. We have made significant progress jointly with the Russian Ministry of Defense in upgrading the security of nuclear weapon storage sites. We are convinced that such upgrades will be completed by December 2008, in accordance with decisions made by the U.S. and Russian Presidents in Bratislava – two years ahead of schedule.
  • Over 95 percent of the warhead and nuclear fuels sites are completed and we will finish securing Russian Navy warhead and nuclear fuel sites this year. And, by the end of 2008, we expect to secure the remaining 12th Main Directorate and Strategic Rocket Forces warhead sites.

2. Detect and prevent the movement or trafficking of weapons-usable technologies and useable nuclear materials.

  • Our Second Line of Defense and Megaports programs install radiation detection equipment at key sea ports, airports and land border crossings – improving our ability to detect the movement of dangerous materials. We are also training border enforcement organizations worldwide to interdict illicit WMD technology transfers.
  • We’ve installed radiation detection equipment at more than 80 rail, vehicle and sea port-border crossings. We are installing equipment at ten additional ports and plan to sign agreements at five additional megaports this fiscal year.

3. Eliminate excess weapons-usable material.

  • The “Megatons to Megawatts” program has led to the down-blending of more than 270 metric tons of Russian highly enriched uranium from dismantled weapons into non-weapons grade material for use in commercial power reactors. By 2013, 500 metric tons of Russia’s highly enriched uranium will be converted. Down-blended material now accounts for 10 percent of U.S. electricity production. In effect, one out of ten American light bulbs is powered by material once contained in Soviet weapons.
  • We are working with Russia to eliminate 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium in each country, enough for 17,000 nuclear weapons, through our plutonium disposition programs.
  • And we have agreed to shut down Russia’s three remaining plutonium production reactors, and to assist in providing fossil fuel plants as replacement energy sources.

4. Eliminate or consolidate vulnerable weapons-useable nuclear and radiological materials.

The fourth area is the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, which was launched nearly two and half years ago here in Vienna to identify, secure, remove and/or facilitate the disposition of high-risk vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials that could be used in improvised nuclear devices or so-called “dirty bombs.”

Since May 2004, GTRI has worked with the IAEA and our international partner countries to remove more than nine nuclear bombs worth of highly enriched uranium and secured more than 400 radiological sites around the world containing over 6 million curies, enough for approximately 6,000 dirty bombs.
Also under GTRI:

  • We will convert three additional research reactors over the next several months from highly-enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to low enriched uranium fuel, bringing to 46 the total number of research reactors converted to date.
  • We have accelerated our efforts to repatriate Russian HEU nuclear fuel from Russian-supplied research reactors located around the world for safe storage and disposition. To date, we have completed 14 shipments of HEU fresh and spent nuclear fuel under this program.

An additional priority of ours is to secure technological expertise through cooperation and alternate infrastructure development.

NNSA’s Global Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program engages former nuclear, chemical and biological weapons experts in Russia and elsewhere. By redirecting these scientists into peaceful, commercially viable research, we reduce the financial incentives for working with proliferators, thus reducing the likelihood a terrorist organization will be able to recruit them.

I hope this has given you a good picture of what the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration is doing worldwide to make our world a safer place.

2006 IAEA General Conference