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NNSA GTRI Program Recognized for Accomplishments in Reducing Global Risks of Weapons of Mass Destruction

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Assistant Deputy Administrator for Global Threat Reduction, Andrew Bieniawski, was honored with the Charles B. Curtis Award from the Nuclear Threat Initiative on Oct. 4th. The award recognizes the work done by NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) and Bieniawski to reduce the global risks from weapons of mass destruction. The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) recognized ten extraordinary leaders in the field of threat reduction in honor of NTI’s tenth anniversary.

GTRI’s mission is to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials at civilian sites worldwide, working in direct support of President Obama’s goal to prevent the acquisition and use of those dangerous materials in weapons of mass destruction and other forms of terrorism. GTRI works to convert, remove and protect sensitive materials.

“The Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Charles B. Curtis Award acknowledges the extraordinary success of the GTRI team over the years in improving global nuclear security,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “Under Andrew’s leadership, the GTRI team has made tremendous strides to reduce the amount of vulnerable nuclear material around the globe and has played a key role in implementing President Obama’s nuclear security agenda.”

Recent successes of GTRI include:

•    Removal of 50 kilograms (111 pounds) of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fresh fuel from three sites in Ukraine, through a joint effort with Ukrainian partners in December 2010.

•    Completion of a large-scale campaign to provide secure long-term storage for more than 10 metric tons of HEU and three metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium in Kazakhstan – enough material to make 775 nuclear weapons. Over the course of 12 shipments, the nuclear material was transported from the BN-350 reactor in Aktau to a new secure storage facility in eastern Kazakhstan.

•    Removal of the final HEU from Chile, making it the fifth country to remove all of its HEU since President Obama called for an international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. The operation in Chile was successfully completed despite a massive earthquake on Feb. 27, 2009, and numerous aftershocks that occurred while the GTRI team was in the country.

In addition to safely removing nuclear and radiological material and transporting it to secure facilities, GTRI works to convert research reactors to operate using Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) to further reduce global dependence on HEU. GTRI has converted 22 reactors to operate on LEU since 2004 and shut down twelve HEU reactors without conversion.

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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 in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the 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.