Jamaican reactor conversion leaves Caribbean free of weapons-grade uranium

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said recently that Jamaica has finished converting the fuel in its research reactor to low enriched uranium.

The IAEA said the reactor's highly enriched uranium (HEU) has been transported to the U.S. The Caribbean region is now free of HEU.

Charles Grant, director general of the International Center for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS), announced the conversion of the Jamaica reactor at the annual Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactor meeting in Seoul, South Korea

“Our assistance with the conversion and enhancement of the reactor’s utilizations capacity is an important step in our development work in the Caribbean,” Luis Carlos Longoria Gandara, director of the IAEA’s Division for Latin America and the Caribbean, said. “Jamaica, but also the wider region, can benefit greatly from the peaceful use of nuclear technologies.”

The Jamaica reactor, located at the University of the West Indies, is capable of producing 20 kilowatts of power and has been in operation for over 30 years. Researchers associated with the reactor plan to study how nuclear science can inform and improve food security and safety, and air and water quality.

The Jamaican conversion is part of a worldwide effort, supported by the IAEA, to reduce civilian HEU use and preserve nations' research and power-generation efforts. HEU can be used to create nuclear weapons, so its use outside of military realms has caused concerns globally.

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International Atomic Energy Agency

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