Top Secret: Chile removes uranium stockpile reduces safety threat
UNCENSORED NEWS | April 8, 2010 at 03:42 amby
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"We are happy to see it go,"
Fernando Lopez of the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission told The Associated Press, which exclusively witnessed the secret transfer of the material from reactors near Santiago to the United States.
The U.S. has already helped convert or verified the shutdown of 67 reactors in 32 countries from HEU to low-enriched uranium, or LEU, which is much harder to weaponize. It also has secured HEU supplies in more than 750 vulnerable buildings and removed 2,691 kilograms of weapons-grade nuclear material for safer storage. To help keep his promise, Obama has proposed a 68 percent increase in the Global Threat Reduction Initiative's budget to $559 million for fiscal year 2011, not only to recover more HEU but also to prevent smuggling of nuclear material by strengthening export and border controls and port security. Next year's $2.7 billion budget for nuclear nonproliferation work begins to do this for plutonium as well, committing $300 million for a plant at Savannah River to convert 34,000 kilograms of plutonium recovered from warheads to fuel for nuclear power.
With U.S. President Barack Obama shifting his nuclear nonproliferation strategy to rogue states and terrorists, Chile has become an example of how small countries can play a big part in making the world safer. Vast amounts of highly enriched uranium, or HEU, is being stored in relatively insecure locations around the world. Just 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of it - the size of a grapefruit - could create a mushroom cloud of radioactivity and devastate an entire city if detonated. At a nonproliferation summit Monday in Washington, Obama will encourage leaders from 47 countries to work with the U.S. to secure and remove HEU from reactors, as Chile finally did last month. "We are happy to see it go," Fernando Lopez of the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission told The Associated Press, which exclusively witnessed the secret transfer of the material from reactors near Santiago to the United States. "Countries normally don't want to be loaded with waste from other countries," Lopez acknowledged. "To put it in a safe place is valuable for everybody."
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