Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz Announces U.S. Commitment at International Conference on Nuclear Security
VIENNA -- In remarks to the delegates of an event hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz today announced in Austria that the United States is beginning consultations with the IAEA to monitor the dilution and packaging of up to six metric tons of surplus plutonium at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, South Carolina.
“We are embarking on an effort at the Savannah River Site to dilute and dispose of approximately six metric tons of surplus plutonium -- additional to the 34 metric tons of material we have committed to dispose under the U.S.-Russia Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement -- and are beginning consultations with the IAEA for the monitoring and verification of this process as yet another tangible commitment by the United States to ensure this material will not be used again in nuclear weapons,” Moniz said in his remarks to the IAEA conference.
In a Record of Decision published in the Federal Register in March 2016, Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) announced that the six metric tons of surplus plutonium at SRS would be dispositioned using the dilute and dispose approach. This approach involves blending the plutonium oxide with an adulterant, packaging the diluted materials in secure canisters, and preparing the canisters for permanent disposal in a geologic repository.
Independent monitoring and verification of this process by the IAEA underscore U.S. confidence in a strong IAEA inspection regime and demonstrate U.S. commitment to transparency under Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The disposition of this six metric tons of surplus plutonium -- in addition to the previous commitment to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium under the U.S.-Russia PMDA -- brings the total amount of surplus plutonium for which the United States has committed to verifiably eliminate to 40 metric tons.