World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Nuclear Bomb Grade Fuel Removed From Uzbekistan

Nuclear Bomb Grade Fuel Removed From Uzbekistan In Un-Monitored Operation

New York, Apr 20 2006 11:00AM

Spent nuclear fuel containing enough uranium to produce two and a half nuclear bombs has been returned to Russia from Uzbekistan in a secret mission completed yesterday under monitoring by the United Nations atomic watchdog agency as part of its efforts to stop the diversion of such material to terrorist or other ends.

“There was particular concern about the Uzbek spent fuel given its significant quantity and that it was no longer ‘self protecting’,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Crosscutting Co-ordinator for Research Reactors, Pablo Adelfang, said.

“This means that the fuel has lost its high radioactivity. In other words, it would no longer injure anyone who handled it and would not deter potential thieves,” he added of the operation, a joint undertaking of the IAEA, the United States, Uzbekistan, Russia and Kazakhstan as part of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). GTRI seeks to identify, secure and recover high-risk vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials around the world. It is the first time that fuel used in a nuclear research reactor – called spent - has been repatriated to Russia from a former Soviet state, although 11 kilos of fresh highly enriched uranium was sent back from the same reactor in 2004.

The 63 kilograms of spent highly enriched uranium (HEU) was transported to Mayak in Russia in four separate shipments under the secret operation, which was six years in the planning. IAEA safeguards inspectors monitored and verified the packing of the fuel for transport over the course of 16 days.

“The shipment is an important step to reduce stockpiles of high-risk, vulnerable nuclear materials,” Mr. Adelfang said. “Russia, the US, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan should be applauded for their successful cooperation. It will contribute to the security of both Uzbekistan and the international community.”

In Russia, the fuel will be processed so that it can not be used for atomic bombs. Russia originally supplied the fuel for use in the 10 megawatt research reactor. Located at the Institute of Nuclear Physics of Uzbekistan, 30 kilometres from Tashkent, the capital, the reactor is currently used for research and to produce isotopes for medical purposes.

The IAEA is now helping to convert the reactor to run on fuel that can not be used to make a nuclear weapon. The Agency is also developing lessons learned from this shipment to provide a basis for guidelines for future spent fuel shipments.

Over the past three years the IAEA has supported similar operations in other countries including Libya, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria, Latvia and the Czech Republic to transfer HEU reactor fuel back to its country of origin.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news