Research Reactor Section
IAEA Support of Research Reactor HEU to LEU Fuel Conversion
At the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, the United States, Mexico and Canada announced the successful removal of all remaining highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Mexico and conversion of the TRIGA Mark III research reactor to low enriched uranium (LEU). The HEU removal and reactor conversion were completed with international cooperation from Canada, Mexico and the United States and was supported by the IAEA via US Extra-budgetary funding from the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The first shipment of LEU took place in December, 2011, and enabled the full conversion of the TRIGA III reactor at the National Institute for Nuclear Research from HEU to LEU. In February and March 2012, the final fuel exchanges were completed to deliver additional LEU to Mexico and transport the final HEU to the US for downblending for use in nuclear power plant fuel.
Facility upgrades to the TRIGA III research reactor are being implemented via the IAEA. Implementation (procurement) began during 2012. These upgrades, along with the LEU shipments, will allow Mexico to expand its capability to produce a variety of medical isotopes for domestic use.