The last of Hungary's highly enriched uranium has left the country by aircraft, ending a years-long multilateral effort to free the nation of the bomb-usable nuclear substance, the U.S. Energy Department said on Monday.
Three flights conducted since September transported the remaining 108.5 pounds of material to Russia, where it is slated for conversion into nuclear-power-plant fuel unsuited for use in weapons. The quantity of uranium removed from Hungary in recent weeks is sufficient to fuel nine nuclear bombs, the department said in a press release.
The uranium-removal project -- conducted jointly by Hungary, Russia, the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency -- previously pulled 418.9 pounds of highly enriched uranium from Hungary in three transfers completed in 2008, 2009 and 2012.
President Obama in April 2009 set a four-year deadline for locking down all vulnerable atomic substances, but that effort remains incomplete.
"The removal of Hungary’s remaining HEU inventory shows the overwhelming response of the international community to President Obama’s call to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials," U.S. Energy Secretary of Ernest Moniz stated in released comments.
"We know that in the wrong hands, just small amounts of these materials could be used to create a weapon of mass destruction," Moniz added. "This operation in Hungary and our ongoing partnerships with countries around the world help to ensure that terrorists never obtain a nuclear weapon."