International agency works to eliminate highly enriched uranium risks

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said yesterday it is working with the United States and Russia to help countries eliminate the risks of highly enriched uranium (HEU).

To illustrate its efforts, the IAEA said last September it provided containers for more than 10 kilograms of HEU that were flown from an air base in Kazakhstan to Russia, where it was diluted to a safe level and securely stored.

HEU can be used to create a nuclear device. It was widely used in the 1960s and 1970s, when many of the world's research reactors were built and the much-safer low enriched uranium (LEU) was not available.

Next year, LEU will be used to fuel the light water research reactor in Alatau, near Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan. The reactor is used for scientific research, isotope production for medicine, and testing material. It produces molybdenum-99, an important medical radioisotope used in 70 percent of nuclear medicine procedures worldwide.

Institute of Nuclear Physics acting General Director Petr Chakrov said he is confident the reactor will continue its work after the switch to LEU.

“We believe that the new core will have twice the capacity to produce various medical, as well as other, radioisotopes going forward," Chakrov said.

Organizations in this story

International Atomic Energy Agency 1 United Nations Plaza Room DC-1-1155 NY, NY - 10017

Get notified the next time we write about International Atomic Energy Agency!