Highly enriched uranium removed from Uzbekistan

The HEU container is loaded onto a truck in Uzbekistan.
The HEU container is loaded onto a truck in Uzbekistan. | Courtesy of the NNSA

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced the successful removal of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Uzbekistan on Tuesday. 

The removal process was a collaborative effort between the NNSA and the Russian Federation's Federal Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety and the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corp. This shipment consisted of five kilograms of nuclear material and was the eighth shipment of this kind to be sent back to Russian authorities. 

“This final HEU removal from Uzbekistan under our collaboration with Russia to repatriate Russian-origin fuel marks another step toward the goal of minimizing or eliminating HEU from civil applications,” NNSA Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington said. “This shipment and our ongoing partnership with Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency advance global efforts to secure, consolidate and minimize the use of highly enriched uranium so it does not fall into the hands of terrorists.”   

The uranium had been used in Uzbekistan's Foton Research Reactor. The NNSA states that Uzbekistan is the 11th country to have gotten rid of HEU that was Russian in origin. Following the removal of this material the International Atomic Energy Agency will begin work with Uzbekistan authorities to begin decommissioning operation of the research reactor.

The NNSA notes that this was the first shipment of liquid HEU to be shipped via aircraft that required additional levels of containment and planning.

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