Russia's use and stockpiles of highly enriched uranium pose significant nuclear risks

phys.org | 9/13/2017 | Staff
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Russia currently holds the world's largest stockpile of highly enriched uranium, a nuclear weapon-usable material, posing significant nuclear security risks, according to a recent report issued by the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), a group based at Princeton University and made up of nuclear experts from 16 countries.

The report, "The Use of Highly Enriched Uranium as Fuel in Russia," provides unprecedented details of the military and civilian use of highly enriched uranium in Russia—the only country to produce highly enriched uranium as an export.

Russia - Stockpile - Uranium - Tons - Russia

Russia's stockpile of highly enriched uranium is estimated to be about 680 tons, and as of 2017, Russia is estimated to use about 8.5 tons of highly enriched uranium annually, a large fraction of which is weapon-grade material. Likewise, Russia currently operates more highly enriched uranium facilities than the rest of the world combined, creating substantial nuclear security risks.

"There has been a great deal of progress in reducing the number of locations where highly enriched uranium can be found outside of Russia. As a result, Russia has become an increasingly important part of the remaining problem," said Frank N. von Hippel, founding co-chair of IPFM and senior research physicist and professor of public and international affairs, emeritus, at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson of Public and International Affairs.

Report - Pavel - Podvig - Researcher - Princeton

The report was edited by Pavel Podvig, a researcher at Princeton's Program on Science and Global Security, with contributions by six other leading Russian experts.

In addition to its stockpiles, Russia also has a large number of highly enriched uranium facilities—58 nuclear reactors and assemblies—meaning that substantial amounts of highly enriched uranium are moving through the fuel cycle. Highly enriched uranium poses special concerns, the researchers wrote, as it can be used relatively easily in simple nuclear explosive devices by states with limited nuclear weapon expertise or even by non-state actors....
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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