At the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, the United States, Mexico and Canada announced the successful removal of HEU from Mexico and conversion of the TrigaII Research Reactor to LEU. The HEU removal and reactor conversion were completed with international cooperation from Canada, Mexico and the United States and was supported by the IAEA. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) led the US government team in executing this mission as part of its nuclear nonproliferation mission. NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative is responsible for reactor conversions and fuel removals.
The mission to remove HEU from Mexico, convert the research reactor and provide LEU for start up operations was announced at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit and directly supports the President’s objective to secure vulnerable nuclear material worldwide and reduce the global commerce for HEU.
- The first shipment of LEU took place in December, 2011. The LEU provided by the US enabled the full conversion of the Triga II Research Reactor at the National Institute for Nuclear Research from highly enriched uranium (HEU) to LEU.
- The HEU removal and upgrades to the Triga II Research Reactor were made possible with more than $5 million in funding from Canada. These upgrades, along with the LEU shipments, will allow Mexico to expand its capability to produce a variety of medical isotopes for domestic use.
- Converting reactors from the use of HEU to LEU fuel and removing the remaining HEU prevents nuclear proliferation by permanently reducing the amount of HEU used in civilian applications worldwide.
In February and March 2012, NNSA and the Government of Mexico completed the final fuel exchanges through a series of shipments. These shipments delivered additional LEU to Mexico and transported the final amounts of HEU to the U.S. for downblending for use in nuclear power plant fuel.