20-year program to buy Russian uranium ends
A 20-year program to convert highly enriched uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons into fuel for U.S. power plants ended on Thursday, with the final shipment loaded onto a vessel in St. Petersburg's port.
The Energy Department described the program, commonly known as Megatons to Megawatts, as one of the most successful nuclear nonproliferation partnerships ever undertaken.
The agreement, signed in 1993 shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and always scheduled to end in 2013, gave Russia the financial incentive to dismantle thousands of nuclear weapons. The initial aim was to help keep the vast stockpiles of weapons-grade uranium out of the hands of terrorists and to make sure Russia's nuclear workers got paid at a time when the country was nearly bankrupt.
Under the program, 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium — the equivalent of about 20,000 nuclear warheads — was converted into fuel for nuclear reactors. During the past 15 years, the fuel has generated 10 percent of U.S. electricity, or nearly half of all commercial nuclear energy.
“For two decades, one in 10 light bulbs in America has been powered by nuclear material from Russian nuclear warheads,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement.
While monitored by the U.S. and Russian governments, the contract has been carried out by two commercial companies: the United States Enrichment Corp. and Techsnabexport.
Rick Shannon, president of Atlantic Ro-Ro Carriers, the company in charge of shipping for the program, said he expects the United States will continue to purchase low-enriched uranium derived from Russian nuclear stockpiles.
“Shipments of this type are critical to continue,” he said.
Russia is estimated to have hundreds of tons of highly enriched uranium, far more than is needed to maintain its nuclear arsenal. The New START arms-reduction treaty limits the number of deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 for each country.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Cafeteria worker tried to stop Washington school shooter
- Philadelphia Mafia figure returned to prison for meeting friend
- Test confirms remains are missing Virginia student’s
- 1686 shipwreck ‘like dinosaur’ being rebuilt for museum
- New York, New Jersey order 21-day quarantine of all in contact with Ebola virus
- Seattle area school homecoming ‘prince’ guns down classmates
- 2 California deputies slain, suspect captured
- Election picture looks less predictable with Ebola, ISIS on the table
- Congress examines NSA official’s part-time job
- Justice Department revamps cyber teams
- North Korea releases Ohio man detained for 6 months