WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman and Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) Director Sergey Kiriyenko today met to highlight U.S.-Russian efforts to keep nuclear weapons and weapons material out of the hands of terrorists. Secretary Bodman and Director Kiriyenko discussed progress made and next steps to shutdown Russia plutonium reactors this year, dispose of 68 metric tons of plutonium, and advance cooperation to expand the use of civilian nuclear energy through the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. Secretary Bodman also highlighted the importance of working together to meet the 2008 deadline for completing nuclear weapons site security upgrades under the Bratislava Initiative.
"Joint efforts to safeguard materials and safely shutdown legacy sites are a key area of U.S.-Russian cooperation and are essential to keep nuclear weapons safe and secure," Secretary Bodman said. "As we increase cooperation to expand the use of civilian nuclear energy worldwide through the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, we must also work to complete the important nuclear security missions outlined by Presidents Bush and Putin."
Secretary Bodman highlighted further progress made through the Bratislava Initiative following the completion of upgrades at more than 85 percent of Russian nuclear warhead, material and missile storage sites of concern by the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in November. At the meeting, Secretary Bodman and Director Kiriyenko agreed to take steps to ensure security enhancements will be maintained far into the future. Secretary Bodman also highlighted the work underway at the balance of Russian sites that will be completed by the end of this year.
Director Kiriyenko informed Secretary Bodman that the operation of two weapons-grade plutonium production reactors in Seversk, Siberia are now operating at half power, significantly reducing its plutonium production. NNSA helped start up a boiler and steam turbine generator at the partially completed Seversk fossil fuel plant in December. This allowed the reactors, which not only produced plutonium during the Cold War, but also powered the town, to operate under an alternating mode, enabling one reactor to shutdown while the other is running.
The two plutonium reactors are ahead of schedule for complete shutdown and are planned to cease operation before the December 2008 deadline.
Secretary Bodman and Director Kiriyenko also discussed the joint statement signed in November outlining Russia's plan to dispose of 34 metric tons of Russian plutonium that relies on Russian fast reactors. The joint statement details efforts to dispose of at least 68 metric tons, or about 8,500 nuclear weapons-worth, of plutonium. The United States is moving forward with its plan to dispose of at least 34 metric tons of U.S. plutonium at the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at DOE's Savannah River Site.
Today's meeting follows significant progress made between the countries to advance nuclear nonproliferation. Since 2005, NNSA has facilitated the return of more than 480 kilograms of Russian-origin fresh and spent highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to Russia from seven countries under the Global Threat Reduction Initiative under the Bratislava Initiative. Last year alone, six HEU research reactors were converted from the use of HEU to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel.
Secretary Bodman also highlighted the significance of 2008 as the 10th anniversary of nuclear security cooperation under the NNSA's Second Line of Defense program. This program installs radiation detection equipment at key transit and border crossings, airports and major seaports to deter, detect and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials. In 2006, the United States and Russia agreed to share costs to equip all of Russia's border crossings with radiation detection equipment by the end of 2011, six years ahead of schedule, building on the 117 crossings already equipped.
The United States and Russia are two of the original members of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, along with China, France and Japan. The 20 GNEP partner nations share the common vision for the expansion of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes worldwide in a safe and secure manner. GNEP, a voluntary partnership, aims to accelerate development and deployment of advanced fuel cycle technologies to encourage clean development and prosperity worldwide, improve the environment, and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation. GNEP, first announced by President Bush in February 2006, includes countries with a wide range of experience related to nuclear power, including: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Ghana, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Senegal, Slovenia, and Ukraine.
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.
To learn additional information on NNSA's nonproliferation efforts including its Global Threat Reduction Initiative, Second Line of Defense program and the U.S.-Russia Joint Statement on Plutonium Disposition, visit the NNSA homepage.
Read more about the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.
Megan Barnett, (202) 586-4940