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NNSA, Rosatom Officials Meet to Discuss Plutonium Disposition

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Officials from the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) yesterday concluded two days of consultations on U.S. and Russian efforts to dispose of surplus weapon-grade plutonium.  

Led by Rosatom Deputy Director General Ivan Kamenskikh, the Russian delegation met with senior Department of Energy (DOE) and NNSA officials in Washington, and toured the facilities NNSA is building at DOE’s Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C.  This was the first time Russian officials have visited NNSA’s Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility.

“The United States and Russia, as the two countries with the largest nuclear arsenals, have a unique responsibility to demonstrate leadership and commitment in downsizing these arsenals,” said NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Kenneth Baker.  “Our cooperation to dispose of surplus weapon-grade plutonium will result in permanent threat reduction and advance the cooperative goals of the nuclear security agenda outlined by Presidents Obama and Medvedev.”

The visit concluded with meetings yesterday in Washington between the delegation from Rosatom and NNSA Administrator Tom D'Agostino, and Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Kenneth Baker.

The Russian delegation also toured the Waste Solidification Building, as well as the Process Assembly Facility under construction at the same site. These facilities, when completed, will support NNSA’s program that converts surplus weapon-grade plutonium into MOX fuel for use in commercial nuclear reactors and results in the plutonium no longer being readily usable for nuclear weapons.

This week’s visit builds on the progress achieved at the April 2010 Nuclear Security Summit, where Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov signed a protocol amending the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA). Under the terms of the PMDA, each country is committed to disposing of no less than 34 metric tons of excess weapon-grade plutonium – combined enough for 17,000 nuclear weapons.  The United States has already identified additional surplus weapons grade plutonium that will be disposed of at the MOX facilities.

A fact sheet on NNSA’s plutonium disposition program is available online.

Photos of the visit to SRS are also available online.

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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.