In early July, U.S. forces transferred 550 metric tons of yellowcake, the compound made from mined natural uranium ore, from the Iraqi nuclear site of Tuwaitha to a port in Montreal. If the material were processed for military purposes, it would be sufficient for as many as 50 nuclear weapons. The Canadian corporation Cameco purchased the nuclear material.
In a July 7 briefing, Department of State spokesperson Sean McCormack said the operation was conducted according to applicable International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations. Citing "security concerns," McCormack noted that the transfer was done secretly. An unnamed senior U.S. official told the Associated Press in July that the transferal took nearly three months, beginning in April. (Continue)
U.S. threat reduction programs in Russia registered three significant successes in April. First, the Department of Defense announced April 9 that its Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program had helped Russia completely dismantle and destroy its stockpile of SS-24 ICBMs. Later the same month, the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that the U.S.-Russian Material Consolidation and Conversion (MCC) program had downblended 10 metric tons of Russian highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium in its nine years of existence. Finally, with U.S. funding and support from the NNSA, Russia completed the shutdown of a reactor that produces weapons-grade plutonium in Seversk. (Continue)
After Congress bumped up the budgets for a number of nonproliferation programs for countries in the former Soviet Union in its 2008 appropriations bills, the Bush administration has requested less money in a number of cases for fiscal year 2009. (Continue)
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last December offers stinging criticism of the Department of Energy’s management of its Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP). The criticism and the fact that some of these facilities are sources of technology and expertise for Russia’s construction of an Iranian nuclear power plant at Bushehr has led some lawmakers to question whether the program indirectly provides aid to Iran’s nuclear program. (Continue)
In the final months of 2007, Congress approved and President George W. Bush signed fiscal year 2008 appropriations bills substantially increasing spending above the president’s original budget request for nonproliferation activities in the Departments of Defense, Energy, and State. Congress also approved a fiscal year 2008 defense authorization bill that seeks to expand Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs administered by the Defense Department to countries outside of the former Soviet Union. Bush vetoed that measure, citing unrelated provisions, and the CTR provisions are expected to remain intact in any final bill. (Continue)