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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Visiting U.S. Official Talks of Spent Nuclear Fuel

The United States plans to work with Russia to boost international security by transporting spent atomic fuel from Soviet-designed research reactors to a reprocessing plant in Russia, the U.S. nuclear safety chief said Tuesday.

The two countries have been involved in a program to return highly enriched uranium from such reactors to reduce the chances of the material being obtained by terrorists, who would need about 12 kilograms of the material to build a crude nuclear device. The uranium fuel has been provided over the years for use in civilian nuclear research.

In all, Russia has agreed to retrieve fresh highly enriched uranium it shipped to civilian research facilities in a total of 17 countries; eight such transfers have been conducted so far, including from Libya, Serbia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

Linton Brooks, chief of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, said the United States and Russia would soon start taking out spent fuel as well.

Brooks, who was on a two-day visit to Moscow, met with the new head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, and with officials from the nuclear safety monitoring agency to discuss U.S. programs to boost nuclear safety in Russia.

He said that the program was still hampered by the Russians' refusal to grant access to foreigners at some sites, but that Moscow had shown willingness to upgrade security itself in those places.