Switzerland sends last batch of weapons-grade plutonium to U.S.

Through a concerted international effort involving several federal agencies, the Swiss and U.S. governments recently transported 20 kg of separated plutonium, the nation's only remaining supply of it, to the U.S., furthering international nonproliferation efforts to limit stores of weapons-grade plutonium.

Prior to its relocation, the plutonium had been stored for several decades at the Paul Sherrer Institute under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. It was originally intended for research and development purposes to advance nuclear plant fuel technology and belonged to the Swiss Confederation. Transporting the plutonium required the development of several technologies and procedures, such asnew gloveboxes for plutonium packaging, stabilization and processes.

“We applaud Switzerland’s role as a global leader in nonproliferation,” National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington said. “Through this cooperative effort, Switzerland has eliminated all the separated plutonium from its country, which supports international goals of consolidating and minimizing inventories of nuclear material. These efforts are an example of the important nonproliferation mission of NNSA and an accomplishment for risk reduction that will be highlighted at the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. later this month.”

The transporting of the plutonium involved the U.S. Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation (DNN), which is within the NNSA, an Energy Department unit; the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research; and the Swiss Federal Office of Energy.


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