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IAEA Welcomes US New Global Threat Reduction Initiative

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei (left), U.S. Secretary Spencer Abraham (center) and U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Brill at the press conference following the announcement of the GTRI initiative 26 May in Vienna, Austria. (Photo credit: D. Calma/IAEA)

The IAEA has welcomed the US announcement of a new comprehensive global initiative to address the issue of nuclear security around the world and reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism.

The Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) was announced by United States Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham 26 May at a meeting with IAEA senior officials at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna. The initiative aims to minimize as quickly as possible the amount of nuclear material available that could be used for nuclear weapons. It will also seek to put into place mechanisms to ensure that nuclear and radiological materials and related equipment -- wherever they may be in the world -- are not used for malicious purposes.

"We will do this by the securing, removing, relocating or disposing of these materials and equipment-whatever the most appropriate circumstance may be-as quickly and expeditiously as possible", Secretary Abraham said.

At a press conference, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said security issues have become a global priority in the past several years, with nuclear weapons related know-how spreading extensively. He said this makes the control of nuclear material that could be used for nuclear weapons extremely critical, and welcomed the proposal on the part of Secretary Abraham and the United States.

"The proposal is a continuation and extension of initiatives that the IAEA, the USA and others have been working on for many years, and with renewed intensity in the past couple of years, to address nuclear security around the world", Dr. ElBaradei said.

Under the GTRI initiative, the US would work with the IAEA and other partners to:

  • Repatriate all Russian-origin fresh high enriched uranium fuel (in cooperation with Russia and th eother countries concerned) by the end of next year, and accelerate and complete the repatriation of all Russian-origin spent fuel by 2010.
  • Take all steps necessary to accelerate and complete the repatriation of all U.S.-origin research reactor spent fuel under existing US program from locations around the world.
  • Work to convert the cores of civilian research reactors that use high enriched uranium to use low enriched uranium fuel, throughout the world.
  • Work to identify other nuclear and radiological materials and related equipment that are not yet covered by existing threat reduction efforts, and rapidly address the most vulnerable facilities first, to ensure that there are no gaps that would enable a terrorist to acquire these materials for malevolent purposes.

The US will establish a single organization within the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration to focus exclusively on these efforts. It plans to dedicate more than $450 million to them.

International and global cooperation will be an integral part of the GTRI initiative. At his announcement, Secretary Abrahams also proposed that the IAEA and international community join in holding a Global Threat Reduction Initiative Partners' Conference.

This conference would examine how to address material collection and security in places where a broader international effort is required. It would also focus on material collection and security of other proliferation-attractive materials, such as those located at conversion facilities, reprocessing plants, and industrial sites, as well as the funding of such work.

Last update: 27 Jul 2017

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