National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA Removes All Highly Enriched Uranium from Ghana

August 29, 2017

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA), in cooperation with Ghana, China, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), repatriated approximately one kilogram of Chinese-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Ghana’s GHARR-1 Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission’s National Nuclear Research Institute in Accra, Ghana August 28.

This shipment removes the last known HEU from Ghana, making it the 32nd country plus Taiwan to become HEU-free. To date, DOE/NNSA has removed or confirmed the disposition of more than 6,275 kilograms of HEU and plutonium worldwide to reduce the global proliferation threat.

“Ghana demonstrated an exemplary commitment to helping reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism by eliminating the need to use highly enriched uranium,” said Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz (Ret.), DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator. “We appreciate the strong support from the international community for this important nonproliferation project.”

The joint operation to remove the Chinese-origin HEU spent fuel was conducted as part of DOE/NNSA’s HEU minimization efforts. NNSA technical experts and IAEA safeguards inspectors monitored the process of loading the fuel into a transfer cask, which was transported safely and securely to China.

This removal follows the conversion of the GHARR-1 MNSR from HEU to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel in July 2017. China and the United States will continue to work through the IAEA to support the conversion of the remaining MNSRs and the return of their spent fuel to China. The next such conversion is planned for Nigeria in 2018.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear explosive testing; works to reduce the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit nnsa.energy.gov for more information.