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Senior NNSA Nonproliferation Official Highlights Importance of HEU Minimization at International Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. –National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Principal Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Ken Baker today delivered the keynote address during the opening session of the 32nd annual International Meeting on Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR) in Lisbon, Portugal.

Ken Baker delivers the keynote speech at RERTR 2010Baker highlighted NNSA’s efforts to work with its international partners to minimize the use of highly enriched uranium and its role in President Obama’s nuclear security agenda.

RERTR brings together nuclear security experts from more than 25 countries to discuss ways to minimize the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) through the conversion of research reactors and medical isotope production facilities to low enriched uranium (LEU) without losing the capability to complete necessary research and produce critical medical isotopes. The following are excerpts from Baker’s remarks as prepared for delivery. A full transcript is posted here:

  • ON THE PRESIDENT’S NUCLEAR SECURITY AGENDA: “The threat of terrorist organizations or individuals acquiring nuclear material for use in an improvised nuclear device is very real. Numerous presidents of the United States and world leaders have declared this to be the top threat to our collective security. The reason that we are all here at this conference, and do the work we do, is to prevent this threat from becoming reality.”
  • ON NNSA’S WORK TO REDUCE THE GLOBAL THREAT POSED BY HEU: “The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) has partnered with dozens of countries worldwide, many of whom are represented at this conference, to convert research reactors to operate with LEU fuel while maintaining their ability to complete their vital mission objectives”
  • ON COOPERATION WITH THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION: “This year, NNSA and Rosatom will finalize the legal framework that will allow us to begin studies to determine the feasibility of converting six research reactors inside Russia to operate with LEU fuel. In addition, NNSA and Rosatom have made great strides this year in working with international partners to return Russian-origin HEU fresh and spent fuel to Russia. To date, NNSA and Rosatom have cooperated to repatriate over 1,300 kilograms of Russian-origin HEU, enough material for 50 nuclear weapons. Currently we are in the midst of our most intensive campaign of shipments ever.”

Learn more about NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative here.

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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.