GTRI: Reducing Nuclear Threats

Fact Sheet
Apr 12, 2013

Mission

In 2004, NNSA established the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) in the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation to, as quickly as possible, identify, secure, remove and/or facilitate the disposition of high risk vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials around the world that pose a threat to the United States and the international community.

GTRI’s mission is to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological material located at civilian sites worldwide. GTRI achieves its mission via three initiatives which provide a comprehensive approach to preventing terrorists’ access to nuclear and radiological materials. These three initiatives are:

  1. Convert: Convert research reactors and isotope production facilities from the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) or verify their shutdown;
  2. Remove: Remove excess nuclear and radiological materials; and
  3. Protect: Protect high priority nuclear and radiological materials from theft.

Accomplishments

Since its inception, GTRI has accelerated its nuclear security efforts and made significant progress to reduce the risk posed by vulnerable civilian nuclear and radiological materials, which could be used by terrorists to make an improvised nuclear device or a radiological dispersal device (RDD), or "dirty bomb.”

GTRI has converted or verified the shutdown of 88 HEU research reactors and isotope production facilities; removed more than 3,575 kilograms of HEU and plutonium – enough for more than 140 nuclear bombs; secured more than 775 bombs worth of HEU and plutonium associated with the BN-350 reactor in Kazakhstan; secured more than 1,500 radiological sites around the world containing millions of curies – enough for tens of thousands of large dirty bombs; recovered more than 32,000 orphan and disused radiological sources in the United States; and recovered more than 750 Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators from Russia containing millions of curies of activity.

GTRI has greatly accelerated its efforts to reduce nuclear and radiological threats since President Obama’s pledge in Prague in April 2009 to secure all vulnerable nuclear material in four years.

Convert

Since President Obama’s Prague speech, GTRI has:

  • Successfully converted to LEU fuel or verified the shutdown of 24 HEU research reactors in 14 countries, including Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, and verified the cessation of the use of HEU targets for isotope production in Indonesia.
  • Accelerated the establishment of a reliable supply of the medical isotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) produced without HEU by establishing partnerships with South Africa, Belgium, and the Netherlands to convert Mo-99 production from HEU targets to LEU targets, and with four domestic commercial entities to produce Mo-99 in the United States with non-HEU technologies.

Remove

Since President Obama’s Prague speech, GTRI has greatly accelerated the removal of weapons-usable nuclear material, including:

  • Successfully removed more than 1,450 kilograms of HEU and plutonium (enough material for more than 55 nuclear weapons); and
  • Removed all weapons-usable nuclear material from 10 countries and areas, including: Romania (June 2009), Taiwan (September 2009), Libya (December 2009), Turkey (January 2010), Chile (March 2010), Serbia (December 2010), Mexico (March 2012), Ukraine (March 2012), Austria (December 2012), and Czech Republic (April 2013).

Protect

Since President Obama’s Prague speech, GTRI has:

  • Completed physical protection upgrades at more than 1,000 buildings with high-activity radiological sources; and
  • Removed more than 10,000 at-risk radiological sources.