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IAEA Inspections At Tennessee Nuclear Plant To End December 27, 2006

Posted by notapundit in US News.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP)–International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of surplus weapons-grade uranium in the Tennessee Y-12 nuclear plant’s vaults will be curtailed over the next three years, the National Nuclear Security Administration told The Knoxville News Sentinel newspaper.

Begun in a voluntary post-Cold War spirit of openness and conducted for more than a decade, IAEA inspectors have been paying monthly visits to make sure none of the material, separated from the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal in the 1990s, had been removed.

9.1 metric tons of the highly enriched material will instead be used as fuel in U.S. nuclear submarines or diluted for nuclear power reactors around the world.

NNSA, a semi-independent organization within the U.S. Department of Energy that oversees the government’s nuclear weapons program, announced in November plans to convert 17.4 metric tons of highly enriched uranium stored at Y-12 into 290 metric tons of low-enriched uranium.

The material will be made available to countries that qualify as part of the Reliable Fuel Supply program, supporting peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

NNSA spokesman Steve Wyatt said two of the 17.4 metric tons for the program will come from Y-12’s 9.1 metric ton international safeguards cache. The rest will be made into fuel for nuclear submarines.

Ralph Hutchison of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, which opposes nuclear weapons, said that while the international inspections had become a “hollow symbol,” he wasn’t happy to see them end.


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