The White House declared today that it has gotten a handle on the nuclear threat — in Belgium.
President Obama is in the Netherlands for the Nuclear Security Summit, an event that Obama began in Washington in 2010.
In a fact sheet from the summit, the administration lauded Belgium for “working with the United States since 2006 to minimize highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium inventories in Belgium through the return of a significant amount of HEU and plutonium to the United States.”
The two countries said all the targeted material had been removed and sent to the United States through three shipments.
“At the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, Belgium and the United States pledged to work together to remove this material prior to the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit. The material supported research and development activities in Belgium and was located at two sites – the SCK-CEN facilities in Mol and the European Joint Research Center Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM) in Geel. Prior to removal, the material was securely stored under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards,” the White House said.
“…This material will be stored at secure facilities in the United States until it is disposed of or downblended to Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) and utilized for civilian purposes. The United States and Belgium plan to continue to work together to eliminate additional stocks of special nuclear material to make sure they never fall into the hands of terrorists, and are prepared to help other countries do the same.”
Twelve countries signed a statement “marking the elimination of highly enriched uranium from within their borders,” said the White House, “in a growing global trend away from highly enriched uranium in civilian uses.”
Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, Hungary, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam said, “We express our appreciation to the Russian Federation, the United States of America and the International Atomic Energy Agency for their assistance in converting research reactors from HEU fuel to LEU fuel and in related HEU removal efforts. This material, once removed, shall be appropriately secured until ultimately disposed of or downblended to LEU and utilized for civilian purposes.”