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Uranium shipment signals end of US-Russian nuclear deal

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posted on Nov, 14 2013 @ 02:10 PM

(Reuters) - A 20-year-old deal that has powered American homes while reducing the risk of Russian nuclear material falling into the wrong hands approached its end on Thursday when the final shipment of uranium left St Petersburg for Baltimore.

Under the 1993 HEU Purchase Agreement, Russia downblended 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from nuclear weapons into low-enriched uranium and sent it to the United States, where it was made into fuel for nuclear power plants.

Over much of the life of the deal, it was used to generate roughly half of all commercial nuclear energy produced in the United States, or nearly 10 percent of all U.S. electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Department.


Well, that's 500 tonnes less weapons grade uranium in play. I suppose I would be a little more excited if it didn't also mean there is now 500 tonnes of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel to store "forever". According to the story this is not quite half the stockpile Russia had at the breakup of the USSR. When you think of what probably would have been the outlet for this material if it hadn't been 'downblended' into nuclear fuel, I think the whole human race should give Russia (and the US corporate recipients) a great big thumbs up!

And, while it isn't in the same league of reduction, the story also states that over the same time frame the US has downblended about 140 tonnes. Keep it up guys, lets get rid of the rest!

The international market for fissables has apparently been pretty flat recently, I wonder if Russia will continue to downblend fuel and make it available on the common market now? This could be bad news for the world's other producers.

posted on Nov, 14 2013 @ 03:16 PM
Some additional information...

According to this report from the FAS,

USEC fulfills about half its enrichment supply contracts with Russian HEU that has been blended down into LEU, which totaled 858 metric tons in 2010.52

USEC is the United States Enrichment Corp. Responsible for providing fuel to the US power plants.

So half of the US fuel supply just disappeared. Good news for anyone seeking employment in the uranium enrichment field! This isn't really a surprise to anyone, it has been known to be coming from the start, so I'm sure plans have been put in place to handle the change....

Oh wait, this is the US corporate culture here. The plan probably consists of "well, lets just double the monthly quotas of our current employees! Problem solved!"

What? Me? Why I've never been cynical a day in my life!

posted on Nov, 17 2013 @ 02:55 PM
reply to post by Montana

Kazakhstan. 'Nuff said.

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