US, Belgium, France and the Netherlands announce pact to reduce use of HEU for isotope production

27 March 2012

The United States, Belgium, France and the Netherlands are to cooperate to help minimize the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) for the production of medical isotopes.

A new four-party joint statement, announced during the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in South Korea, provides a framework for cooperating on the future use of HEU in the production of molybdenum-99.

As part of the agreement the United States will provide by the end of 2012 a sufficient amount of LEU, approximately 100 kg, for the Republic of Korea to manufacture approximately 100kg of atomized uranium molybdenum (U-Mo) powder within the year 2013 using the centrifugal atomizing technology developed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute.

The Republic of Korea will provide this U-Mo powder to the French fabricator AREVA CERCA for its use in the manufacture of high-density U-Mo fuel lead test assemblies.

France and Belgium will load this U-Mo fuel into their high performance research reactors once an appropriate form of high-density U-Mo dispersion type of fuel has been qualified.

Following the loading of U-Mo fuel, experts will assess the performance of the fuel and other technical aspects of this project, including the function and efficiency of the U-Mo fuel and if the result proves satisfactory, we intend to further cooperate in sharing adequate information and providing necessary assistance to countries seeking to convert reactors from HEU fuel to LEU fuel.

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