Final U.S.-Origin HEU Shipment from Australia Completed

Press Release
May 21, 2009

Final U.S.-Origin HEU Shipment from Australia Completed

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that it has successfully removed 14.5 kilograms (32 lbs) of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in "spent" nuclear fuel from Australia.  The HEU spent fuel was transported by truck, rail, and ship under secure conditions with the cooperation of Australia and several international organizations and will now be secured at the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site.  With the completion of this shipment, NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) has successfully removed more than 100 kilograms (220 lbs) of U.S.-origin HEU fuel from Australia since 1998.

"The NNSA worked closely with Australia to oversee this important shipment of highly enriched uranium spent nuclear fuel," said NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Ken Baker. "The removal of this U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium from Australia is another major milestone in NNSA's cooperative effort to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation and demonstrates the strong international commitment to nonproliferation."

To complete this shipment, NNSA worked in close cooperation with the Government of Australia and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization to return this material, which was transported to the United States by ship.  This is the 47th shipment of U.S.-origin fuel safely returned to the United States. 
 
The U.S. and Australia are long-time partners on nonproliferation policy.  Last September, the two nations announced the 10-year extension of an arrangement for cooperation on international nuclear safeguards. Australia and the United States continue to work together under the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative to recommend policies to strengthen the international nonproliferation regime, develop more efficient and effective safeguards technologies to prevent nuclear proliferation, and help to establish safeguards infrastructure in aspiring nuclear states.

Since its inception, the U.S.-origin fuel removal program has returned more than 1,215 kilograms (2679 lbs) of U.S.-origin HEU fuel — the equivalent of approximately 48 nuclear weapons — to the United States from 27 countries.  The program has removed all eligible U.S.-origin HEU fuel from the following 17 countries – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Thailand. 

 A fact sheet on the GTRI is available.

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.

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