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Canada and the United States Cooperate to Shut Down One of the Last Weapons-Grade Plutonium Production Reactors in Russia

March 30, 2005 - 11:08am

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew and United States Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman today announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to assist with the permanent closure of one of the final operating weapons-grade plutonium production reactors in Russia.

Under the MOU, Canada will contribute $9 million Canadian (U.S. $7 million) to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Elimination of Weapons-Grade Plutonium Production (EWGPP) program. The Canadian contribution to this initiative is part of its $1 billion pledge under the G8-led Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

The goal of the EWGPP program is to permanently shut down three Russian nuclear reactors and replace them with fossil energy plants. These reactors, which provide necessary heat and electricity to two regions in Siberia, also generate a significant amount of plutonium that could be used to make nuclear weapons. The Russian government has agreed to permanently shut down the reactors once replacement energy is provided.

“This agreement is key to halting the production of nuclear weapons materials,” said Minister Pettigrew. “We are pleased to be able to cooperate with our U.S. partners on this important security initiative.”

“Ending the production of weapons-grade plutonium is a non-proliferation priority for the United States and the international community,” said Secretary Bodman. “The signing of this MOU with our Canadian partners is another key step toward meeting this priority.”

The Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction is a critical initiative for preventing terrorism relating to weapons of mass destruction. Canada is currently contributing to projects in all four of its priority areas: dismantlement of nuclear submarines; destruction of chemical weapons; re-employment of former weapons scientists; and disposition of fissile materials. The United States pledges approximately US$1 billion annually for activities under the Global Partnership.

Media contacts:
Mike Waldron, 202/586-4940
Sébastien Théberge, 613/995-1851
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

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