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U.S Russia Romania IAEA Agree on Non-proliferation

U.S., Russia, Romania, IAEA Cooperate on Non-proliferation

Soviet-supplied uranium returned from Romania to Russia

Fourteen kilograms of fresh highly enriched uranium from Romania have been returned to Russia under the U.S.-funded Research Reactor Fuel Return (RRRFR) Initiative, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced September 22.

The uranium was originally supplied by the former Soviet Union for the now-closed 2 MW research reactor near Bucharest and will be down-blended for nuclear power plant fuel.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said the non-proliferation program "reinforces President Bush's commitment to work with our partners in the region and take practical steps to improve the physical protection and accounting of nuclear materials and prevent illicit nuclear trafficking."

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were present as the uranium was loaded into canisters for shipment.

Following is the DOE press release:

(begin text)

Department of Energy
Washington, D.C.
www.energy.gov

September 22, 2003

THE UNITED STATES, RUSSIAN FEDERATION, ROMANIA AND THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY COOPERATE ON NONPROLIFERATION

Fresh HEU nuclear fuel shipped back to Russian Federation

Washington, D.C. -- Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced today that on Sunday, September 21, 14 kilograms of fresh Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) were returned from Romania to the Russian Federation under the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-funded Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return (RRRFR) Initiative. The HEU was airlifted from Bucharest, Romania to Russia where it will be down-blended and used for nuclear power plant fuel fabrication.

The highly enriched nuclear fuel assemblies were originally supplied to Romania by the former Soviet Union for the Russian-designed 2 MW research reactor, located close to the Romanian capital, Bucharest.

The reactor was shutdown in December 1997, and is being decommissioned. The fresh nuclear fuel was loaded in 8 fresh fuel transportation canisters provided by the Russian Federation.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards inspectors and U.S. DOE technical experts monitored the process of loading the fuel in the canisters. An IL-76 Russian cargo plane was used to complete the air shipment of the HEU fuel from Romania.

"The RRRFR program exemplifies the strength of the U.S. and the Russian Federation partnership to reduce the threat of terrorism and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction," Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham said. "It reinforces President Bush's commitment to work with our partners in the region and take practical steps to improve the physical protection and accounting of nuclear materials and prevent illicit nuclear trafficking."

The shipment of fresh research reactor fuel from Romania to Russia was part of a U.S.-led cooperative international effort to reduce, and if possible eliminate, the use in and storage of highly enriched uranium in civil nuclear activities.

In 1996, DOE established the Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel Acceptance Program, under which the United States accepts specified types of spent and unused fresh fuel containing U.S.-supplied uranium for management and disposition in the United States, on condition that operators agree to convert their reactors to low-enriched uranium as soon as practicable. This project with Romania represents the first step of a similar program that DOE has created jointly with Russia and the IAEA to return Russian-supplied HEU research reactor fuel for long-term management and disposition. The IAEA has played an instrumental role in arranging the shipment from Romania.

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