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US, Russian Federation Sign Joint Statement on Reactor Conversion

June 26, 2012 - 12:00pm

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This release is cross-posted from NNSA.energy.gov

MOSCOW – The U.S. and Russian Federation jointly announced today that the first stage of work defined in the Implementing Agreement between the Russian State Corporation for Atomic Energy (Rosatom) and the Department of Energy (DOE) Regarding Cooperation in Concluding Feasibility Studies of the Conversion of Russian Research Reactors of Dec. 7, 2010, has been completed. The announcement comes at the close of the most recent session of the Working Group on Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security under the U.S.-Russia bilateral Presidential Commission, co-chaired by Daniel Poneman, Deputy Secretary of Energy, and Sergey Kiriyenko, Director General of Rosatom.

Work has been completed on feasibility studies for the conversion of several Russian research reactors. These studies focused on four Russian reactors (Argus reactor, IRT - MEPhI, OR reactor and IR-8) and confirm that it is technically possible to convert the reactors to use low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. Feasibility studies for conversion of two additional reactors are expected to be completed this summer as part of the Russian-American Working Group established under the Implementing Agreement.

“The conversion of Russian research reactors from highly-enriched uranium to lightly-enriched uranium directly supports the president's goal to reduce the dangers of nuclear material terrorism and weapons proliferation," said Deputy Secretary of Energy, Daniel Poneman. “We look forward to continuing cooperation with the Russian Federation on this important project as part of fulfilling commitments made at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea.”

The full conversion of one reactor, and potentially a second, is expected to be completed in 2014. In addition to reactor conversion, nine out of 27 research reactors using highly enriched fuel in the Russian Federation have been shut down. In the U.S., 20 out of 27 reactors have either been converted to use LEU fuel or shut down. The U.S. will continue to make efforts to convert the remaining research reactors as promptly as possible.

The DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration leads U.S. Government efforts to convert domestic and international civilian research reactors and isotope production facilities from the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to non-weapons usable LEU fuel. These efforts result in permanent threat reduction because the use of HEU in the civilian fuel cycle is minimized or eliminated. Reducing global reliance on HEU in civilian applications supports the president’s nuclear security agenda.

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