NNSA Completes Conversion of the Budapest Research Reactor and Removal of All Fresh HEU in Hungary

Press Release
Sep 15, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), in cooperation with KFKI Atomic Energy Research Institute, successfully converted the Budapest Research Reactor (BRR) from the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel.   The BRR conversion followed the successful removal of 18 kilograms of Russian-origin HEU fresh fuel from the Budapest Research Reactor in cooperation with NNSA in July 2009.

"The successful conversion of the Budapest Research Reactor and the removal of 18 kilograms of HEU fresh fuel from the site represent a major step forward in NNSA's ongoing efforts to implement President Obama's unprecedented nuclear security agenda," said NNSA Administrator Thomas P. D'Agostino.  "These cooperative efforts continue to demonstrate NNSA's strong international commitment to minimize the use of highly enriched uranium and remove excess nuclear and radiological materials from civilian sites around the world.  We commend the Atomic Energy Research Institute in Hungary for its efforts to advance our common interest in securing nuclear materials worldwide and reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism."

In a speech in Prague earlier this year, President Obama outlined his commitment to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years, minimize the use of HEU in civilian applications, and build on efforts to detect and intercept nuclear materials in transit.  NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative is a critical element of efforts to achieve those objectives.

As part of NNSA's nonproliferation mission, GTRI provides support to convert research reactors worldwide, including the BRR. Conversion reduces the threat of proliferation by minimizing the use of HEU in civilian applications.

NNSA has now converted or verified the shutdown of 65 HEU research reactors.  The reactor conversions and fuel removals highlight the U.S. commitment to minimize civilian use of HEU.  With the conversion of the BRR, GTRI has now converted or verified the shutdown of 16 U.S.- and Russian-supplied research reactors in third countries since May 2004.  The BRR is the third HEU-fueled research reactor to be converted or shutdown by GTRI in 2009, following the shutdown of General Atomics' TRIGA reactor and Bulgaria's IRT-2000.

As part of the U.S.-Russian Presidential Joint Statement on Nuclear Cooperation signed in July, the U.S. and Russia reaffirmed their commitment to repatriate HEU materials located in third countries.  With this shipment, Hungary became the ninth country, along with Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Libya, Uzbekistan, Latvia, Germany, and Vietnam, from which GTRI has removed all Russian-origin HEU fresh fuel.

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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 United States and abroad.  Visit www.nnsa.doe.gov for more information.

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