Final line under US-Russia HEU deal

28 May 2015

President Barack Obama has drawn a line under the completed Megatons to Megawatts program by terminating a state of national emergency.  

A state of national emergency was declared by the USA in 2000 to help to ensure that payments to Russia under the 1993 agreement to downblend surplus military high-enriched uranium could not be derailed by unrelated legal actions. The initial order declaring the national emergency was succeeded by a second order in June 2012.

In a letter to the US Congress, Obama said that with the completion of the program, the order was no longer needed. "With the successful conversion of 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium extracted from Russian nuclear weapons into low enriched uranium, the transfer to the United States of that low enriched uranium for use as fuel in commercial nuclear reactors, and the completion of all payments to the Russian Federation, there is no further need for the protective blocking imposed by Executive Order 13617. For this reason I have determined that it is necessary to terminate the national emergency … and revoke that order," he told Congress.

Also known as the HEU Agreement, the program was implemented through a 1994 contract between the US Enrichment Corporation and Techsnabexport (Tenex), a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom, which acted as executive agents for the US and Russian governments. Under the scheme, Russian HEU was bought by the USA for use as fuel in civil nuclear reactors, with the USA transferring to Russia a similar quantity of natural uranium to that used to downblend the HEU.

The US National Nuclear Security Administration took over American responsibilities such as verification for the downblending in 2000 following the privatization of the US Enrichment Corporation (USEC), which remained the executive agent for the duration of the commercial contract. The program was completed at the end of 2013, when the final shipment of low-enriched uranium to the USA was completed.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News