U.S. and Russia Cooperate to Eliminate Dangerous Nuclear Material

Press Release
Apr 24, 2008
10 Metric Tons of Russian HEU Successfully Downblended

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following a meeting in Cairo with Russian officials to discuss continued progress on nuclear nonproliferation and security initiatives, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that the U.S. and Russia have eliminated 10 metric tons (22,000 pounds) of Russian weapons-usable nuclear material.  This material, equivalent to 400 nuclear weapons, was successfully converted by downblending highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) under a joint U.S.-Russian program.

Converting excess HEU from Russian facilities eliminates a proliferation risk while making additional material available for Russian power and research reactor fuel. These activities also support efforts to consolidate storage of nuclear material in Russia into fewer buildings and sites.  

 "This important milestone highlights progress in U.S.-Russian nonproliferation cooperation," said NNSA's Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation William Tobey.  "Our efforts to convert this material have successfully reduced the supply of dangerous nuclear material, while our consolidation efforts have decreased the cost of securing the material."

The joint U.S.-Russia Material Consolidation and Conversion (MCC) program helps reduce the proliferation risk associated with nuclear material inside Russia.  Under the MCC effort, NNSA teams have worked with their Russian counterparts at Luch, a Russian nuclear institute in Podolsk, and the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors in Dmitrovgrad over the past nine years to reach this milestone. 

The MCC program converts excess Russian HEU that is not from weapons and complements NNSA's work to eliminate Russia's excess weapons-origin HEU.  Earlier this year, NNSA and Rosatom marked the 15th anniversary of the signing of the HEU Purchase Agreement, which converts weapons-origin HEU to LEU that is then sold to U.S. utilities for power production.  

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. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce 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.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371