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Press Release

Nuclear and Radiological Material Removed from Japan, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark
Jul 3, 2008

Highly enriched uranium and plutonium returned under NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nearly 40 pounds of U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) in "spent" nuclear fuel and nine U.S.-origin plutonium-239 sealed sources were successfully returned to the United States from Japan, Germany, Sweden and Denmark to U.S. nuclear facilities by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  The spent fuel was transported by ship and rail, under secret and secure conditions.  The sealed sources were transported to a different location by truck.

"NNSA works with countries around the world to secure civilian nuclear and radiological material, including highly enriched uranium and plutonium sources.  On the same week as the 40th anniversary of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, this cooperative effort with our partner countries to oversee this complex shipment of material to the U.S. demonstrates the international commitment to nonproliferation and global threat reduction," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino.

This is the 42nd shipment from 28 countries of U.S.-origin fuel safely and successfully returned to the U.S.  The NNSA Global Threat Reduction Initiative's (GTRI) mission is to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials located at civilian sites worldwide.  Through GTRI, the United States has worked in close cooperation with individual research reactors and the governments of Japan, Germany, Sweden and Denmark to return this material, which was shipped to the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site.

This shipment is in accordance with a prioritized, accelerated schedule developed in fulfillment of the February 2005 Bush-Putin Bratislava Joint Statement on Nuclear Security Cooperation, which specifically called for the United States and Russia to work jointly to return HEU fuel from U.S. and Russian-designed research reactors in other countries.  In addition, the shipment supports the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism launched by Presidents Bush and Putin in 2006 to expand international partnerships addressing the global threat of nuclear terrorism.  Japan, Germany, Sweden and Denmark are key partners in the initiative and their participation in NNSA's program to remove the fuel demonstrates their strong commitment to the initiative's goals.

In support of this accelerated schedule, GTRI removed more than 80 kilograms of U.S.-origin HEU fuel in fiscal year 2007 alone.  Since its inception, the U.S.-origin fuel removal program has returned over 1,160 kilograms (2,500 pounds) of HEU fuel – enough for over 45 nuclear weapons – and over 8,300 fuel assemblies.  The program has removed all U.S.-origin HEU fuel from the following 13 countries – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Philippines, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Thailand.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized 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