WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that it has signed contracts with Vietnam to begin to convert a research reactor from highly enriched uranium to low enriched uranium and to secure nuclear and radiological materials. The announcement carries out a commitment made by both countries during President Bush's October 2006 trip to Vietnam. It also supports the Bratislava Joint Statement on Nuclear Security Cooperation issued by Presidents Bush and Putin in February 2005.
NNSA signed a contract with the Vietnamese Atomic Energy Commission to supply the low enriched fuel needed to convert the Russian-supplied Dalat research reactor in Vietnam. NNSA will also work closely with Vietnam, under a contract with the International Atomic Energy Agency, to return the fresh, highly enriched fuel back to Russia for safe and secure disposal.
"We commend the government of Vietnam and applaud their leadership in taking this significant step to protect nuclear material," said Thomas D'Agostino, NNSA's acting administrator.
In addition to the contract signed today, NNSA and Vietnam recently signed contracts to enhance the physical security at the Dalat reactor and other radiological facilities in Vietnam.
The NNSA funded projects will be administered through its Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), whose mission is to identify, recover and secure high-risk vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials around the world as quickly as possible.
In addition to the work in Vietnam, GTRI has a prioritized and accelerated schedule of shipments to return eligible Russian-origin highly enriched uranium. GTRI has already safely returned more than 495 kilograms of this material from Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Libya, Uzbekistan, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, and Germany.
GTRI also has an accelerated schedule to convert U.S. and Russian-supplied research reactors located in other countries to the use of low enriched uranium, which cannot easily be used to make a nuclear weapon. Forty-six research reactors worldwide have been converted so far under GTRI.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous 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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