Romania sends highly enriched uranium to Siberia

Publish date: October 10, 2003

Stepping up efforts to secure materials usable in weapons of mass destruction, about 14kg of weapons-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) reactor fuel was airlifted from Romania to Russia on September 21.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the fuel removal cost $400,000 and was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under a cooperative U.S.-Russia-IAEA program called the Tripartite Initiative that facilitates the return of fresh and spent fuel from Russian-designed research reactors abroad. Russia has agreed to degrade the fuel into low-enriched uranium (LEU) useless for weapons use. The fresh fuel was flown from the Institute for Nuclear Research in Pitesti, Romania, to Russia’s Chemical Concentrates Plant in Novosibirsk. IAEA, Russian, Romanian and US officials supervised the transport. The fuel was originally procured for a Russian-designed two-megawatt research reactor near Romania’s capital, Bucharest. The reactor stopped operating in December 1997, and the fresh fuel was sent to Pitesti for storage. The fuel removal is part of a three-year project to convert the U.S.-designed Pitesti reactor to LEU. The United States contributed $4 million to the IAEA for the conversion.