Multilateral Initiative Frees Hungary of Bomb-Grade Uranium

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Nov. 5, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

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.”

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