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Environment

DOE intends to speed return of nuclear material

May 31, 2004 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 82, ISSUE 22

The U.S. will spend some $450 million over the next decade to speed up an international program to gather and control nuclear materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons or dirty bombs. Much of the program’s focus will be on collaboration between the U.S. and Russia to secure hundreds of tons of highly enriched uranium held in the two countries. However, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, speaking to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, also noted that some 600 nuclear research reactors around the world are near the end of their useful lives or have been shut down and that this nuclear material is not well controlled. Much of the material was provided by the U.S. and Russia to nations through various R&D and other programs to support nuclear development over the past 50 years. A recent U.S. government report found that the U.S. has lost control of 14,000 kg of highly enriched uranium and identified 33 nations that hold it, 12 of which, the report said, are unlikely to return it (C&EN, Feb. 23, page 17).

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