US, Russia remove nuclear material from Czech Republic

The United States and Russia have cooperated to remove enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) to make two nuclear weapons from the Czech Republic, the White House said Friday, describing the effort as part of a larger initiative to prevent nuclear terrorism.

The 150 pounds (68 kilograms) of HEU “was securely transported to Russia, where it will be down-blended into low enriched uranium (LEU) for use in nuclear power reactors,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

“Unlike highly enriched uranium, low enriched uranium cannot be used to make a nuclear weapon,” Hayden added. The shipment makes the Czech Republic the 10th nation from which all HEU has been removed in the four years since US President Barack Obama called for international cooperation to secure nuclear materials across the globe, Hayden said.

“This achievement comes on the anniversary of President Obama’s remarks in Prague on April 5, 2009, where he stated that nuclear terrorism remains our greatest threat,” she said. Hayden said the removal of the nuclear material was the result of a joint, multiyear effort by the US National Nuclear Security Administration, the Czech Republic’s Nuclear Research Institute, Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency.