"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
Russia Takes Back HEU from Romania

Stepping up efforts to secure materials usable in weapons of mass destruction, about 14 kg (31 lbs.) of weapons-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) reactor fuel was airlifted from Romania to Russia on Sept. 21. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the fuel removal cost $400,000 and was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under a cooperative U.S.-Russia-IAEA program called the Tripartite Initiative that facilitates the return of fresh and spent fuel from Russian-designed research reactors abroad. (See ACT, July/August 2002.) Russia has agreed to refabricate the fuel into low-enriched uranium (LEU).

The fresh fuel was flown from the Institute for Nuclear Research in Pitesti, Romania, to Russia’s Chemical Concentrates Plant in Novosibirsk. The fuel was originally procured for a Russian-designed two-megawatt research reactor near Romania’s capital, Bucharest. The reactor stopped operating in December 1997, and the fresh fuel was sent to Pitesti for storage. The fuel removal is part of a three-year project to convert the U.S.-designed Pitesti reactor to LEU. The United States contributed $4 million to the IAEA for the conversion.

There are currently some 80 research reactors around the world that still have weapons-usable HEU.