Moniz: Enhanced security key for expanding nuclear globally

U.S. Department of Energy DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA nuclear enhanced security Y-12 US-Russia

In a prepared statement for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s International Conference on Nuclear Security this week in Vienna, Austria, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said improving the security of nuclear materials was essential for expanding nuclear energy around the world.

Moniz linked climate change with nuclear security, indicating how improving one would improve the other and vice-versa. He described climate change as a “threat multiplier,” creating destabilizing circumstances and breeding grounds for terrorists. “Nuclear energy is a key part of addressing climate change,” Moniz said, “and ensuring nuclear security is integral to the expansion of carbon-free nuclear generation.”

Giving a nod to the Y-12 debacle in the United States, in which anti-nuclear protestors were able to infiltrate a highly sensitive facility containing highly enriched uranium, Moniz identified US-Russian cooperation as essential for enhancing nuclear security.

The New START Treaty, he said, has been vital for reducing stockpiles of nuclear warheads, which are now at the lowest level since the 1950s. Obama has announced his intention to look now beyond the New START goalposts and seek further reductions. Similarly, programs to convert highly enriched uranium from Russian nuclear weapons into fuel for US nuclear reactors have down-blended 120k kilograms of fissile material. US-Russian cooperation has also led, he said, to the removal of 1,340 kg of highly-enriched uranium and 35 kg of plutonium from vulnerable sites around the world. “Working shoulder-to-shoulder with the international community,” Moniz said,” we have improved the security and physical protection of facilities storing nuclear and radiological materials, enhanced the secure transport of such materials, and strengthened the worldwide capacity to combat the illicit trafficking of these materials.”

“The threat of nuclear terrorism is real and serious,” said Moniz, “and it will endure for the foreseeable future.  Strengthening global nuclear security everywhere is one of the most important ways to reduce this threat.”

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