US and Russia help Vietnam become uranium-free

US and Russia help Vietnam become uranium-free
Russia and the US have facilitated shipping 16 kilograms of highly enriched uranium out of Vietnam in an effort to secure hazardous fuel that could be deployed in nukes.

Image from coalitionagainstnukes.orgThe shipment from Dalat Nuclear Research Institute was sent to Russia, where the nuclear material will be downgraded to power reactors, the US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said at the IAEA conference in Vienna. The conference has declared Vietnam the 11th country to become uranium-free.

The amount of uranium removed from Vietnam by the US was more than half of what is needed to make a crude nuclear weapon, according to AP. The IAEA nations believe such material should be secured for the fear it could fall into the hands of terrorists.

According to Moniz the Vietnam accomplishment “will have removed nearly all highly enriched uranium from Southeast Asia.”

Moniz cautioned against possible proliferation of highly nuclear material in the world.

"Highly enriched uranium still exists in too many places where there are viable alternatives," he said.

The first uranium shipment from the city of Dalat took place six years ago. The latest delivery was second this month, Russian envoy Grigory Berdennikov told Reuters.

According to Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group (NSGEG) lobby group some 1,440 tons of highly enriched uranium and around 500 tons of plutonium are stockpiled globally. Refined uranium is needed to power nuclear reactors but in the wrong hands could be used to make a bomb.

After Vietnam War ended in 1975, the Dalat research center reactor was shut down and re-started in 1983 using Soviet nuclear fuel. An agreement between Russia and the United States has obliged the nuclear material to be returned to the country it came from.