Canada Returns a Warhead’s Worth of Bomb-Grade Uranium to U.S.


Global Security Newswire Staff
March 25, 2014, 9:11 a.m.

Canada on Monday re­vealed it had re­turned to the United States enough highly en­riched urani­um to fuel one war­head, the Ot­t­awa Cit­izen re­ports.

The an­nounce­ment  covered about 100 pounds of weapon-grade urani­um con­tained in thou­sands of “tar­gets” that were ori­gin­ally ex­por­ted from the United States and held at the Chalk River nuc­le­ar com­plex. The ma­ter­i­als were in­ten­ded to have been ir­ra­di­ated at site re­act­ors and con­ver­ted in­to med­ic­al-iso­topes, but that nev­er happened due to prob­lems with the re­act­or tech­no­logy.

Ot­t­awa’s de­clar­a­tion was made at the 2014 Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Sum­mit in The Hag­ue, Neth­er­lands. The third sum­mit of its kind, this year’s two-day con­fer­ence in­cluded par­ti­cip­a­tion by 53 coun­tries. A num­ber of na­tions used the event to high­light pro­gress they made since the last sum­mit in 2012 in se­cur­ing vul­ner­able stock­piles of nuc­le­ar and ra­dio­act­ive ma­ter­i­als.

The Ca­na­dian an­nounce­ment did not in­clude many spe­cif­ics, but it is be­lieved that the HEU tar­gets were sent back to the Y-12 Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Com­plex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per.

Mean­while, U.S. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry ap­plauded Pakistan on Monday for its ef­forts to im­prove na­tion­al nuc­le­ar se­cur­ity, ac­cord­ing to the State De­part­ment.

Fol­low­ing a meet­ing on the side­lines of the sum­mit with Pakistani Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif, Kerry said the United States had “great con­fid­ence in Pakistan’s nuc­le­ar se­cur­ity. They’ve really done an enorm­ous amount of work,” ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial tran­script.

A 2014 ex­pert ana­lys­is con­cluded that Pakistan in re­cent years had made more head­way than any oth­er nuc­le­ar-armed na­tion in im­prov­ing pro­tec­tion of its atom­ic ma­ter­i­als. At the same time, the South Asi­an state con­tin­ued to rank to­ward the bot­tom of 25 na­tions as­sessed on their nuc­le­ar-se­cur­ity prac­tices.

In re­marks at the sum­mit, Sharif said his coun­try’s nuc­le­ar se­cur­ity was based on five pil­lars: a strong reg­u­lat­ory frame­work; a co­hes­ive in­tel­li­gence ap­par­at­us; good com­mand-and-con­trol by the Na­tion­al Com­mand Au­thor­ity; an ex­tens­ive set of rules for the sale abroad of sens­it­ive ma­ter­i­als and tech­no­logy; and vig­or­ous col­lab­or­a­tion with in­ter­na­tion­al part­ners, ac­cord­ing to a Daily Times art­icle.

Sharif re­af­firmed Is­lamabad’s de­sire to be gran­ted mem­ber­ship in all in­ter­na­tion­al ex­port-con­trol groups, par­tic­u­larly the Nuc­le­ar Sup­pli­ers Group.

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