NNSA Announces Highly Enriched Uranium Removed from Turkey

Press Release
Jan 12, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration today announced the removal of the final 5.4 kilograms (11.9 pounds) of U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) spent nuclear fuel from Turkey.  The material – the last significant amount of HEU in Turkey – was removed and returned to the United States for storage at a secure nuclear facility, making Turkey the fourth country to be cleaned out of nearly all HEU since President Obama outlined his commitment to securing all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. 

"This shipment of HEU from Turkey represents a major step forward in NNSA's ongoing efforts to implement President Obama's unprecedented nuclear security agenda to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino.  "This cooperative effort with the Turkish government underscores our mutual commitment to nonproliferation and nuclear security."

For this operation, NNSA worked in close cooperation with the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority and the Çekmece Nuclear Research and Training Center to return the material.  It was packaged into an internationally licensed transportation cask. The cask was then secured in a shipping container and transported in an armed convoy from the reactor site to a nearby port for transport by ship to the United States.  Secure shipping containers with spent US origin HEU from Turkey being loaded onto ships for shipment back to the US.

In a speech in Prague last year, President Obama called for an international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years.  In addition to reducing and protecting vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials located at civilian sites, NNSA works to prevent nuclear smuggling by improving security at sites around the world, installing radiation monitors at ports and border crossings, and working with partner nations to strengthen international export control regimes.

The shipment is part of NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI).  With the completion of this shipment, GTRI has removed all significant amounts of HEU from 17 countries.  This results in permanent threat reduction because it eliminates weapons usable nuclear material at civilian sites.  Each kilogram of HEU that is removed reduces the risk of a terrorist bomb.  With the successful completion of this shipment, NNSA has now returned approximately 1,240 kilograms (2,728 pounds) of U.S.-origin HEU fuel.  In addition, GTRI has removed more than 915 kilograms (2,013 pounds) of Russian-origin HEU and more than 187 kilograms (411.4 pounds) of gap material. 

A fact sheet on NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative is available online here.  A fact sheet on NNSA's efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism is available online 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. Visit http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/ for more information.

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