Reducing global radiological risk, moving alternative technologies forward

May 15, 2024, 9:28AMNuclear NewsKristin Hirsch

Kristin Hirsch

Radioactive materials are used in medical, research, and commercial facilities to treat cancer, irradiate blood, sterilize food and equipment, and build economies worldwide. In the wrong hands, however, even a small amount of radioactive material can do a great deal of harm. A radiological dispersal device (RDD), otherwise known as a “dirty bomb,” is believed to be an attractive weapon for terrorist groups due to its scale of impact—panic, physical contamination, costly remediation, and denial of access to facilities and locations.

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration Office of Radiological Security (ORS) enhances global security by preventing high-activity radioactive materials from being used in acts of terrorism. ORS implements its mission through three strategies: protecting radioactive sources used for vital medical, research, and commercial purposes by securing facilities that utilize radioactive isotopes; removing and disposing of disused sources; and encouraging the adoption and development of nonradioisotopic alternative technologies such as X-ray and electron beam irradiators.

Nonproliferation proponents call on Biden to oppose SHINE's proposed recycling plant

April 8, 2024, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions

A group of 29 nonproliferation supporters sent a letter to President Biden asking that he withhold federal support for a proposed pilot plant for recycling spent nuclear fuel to be built by the Wisconsin-based fusion tech company SHINE Technologies. The experts further asked that Biden “discourage” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from licensing the plant, claiming it would extract enough weapons-grade plutonium to build 100 atomic bombs a year.

From South Korea to Belgium: Testing a high-density research reactor fuel

March 28, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Irradiation of test fuel at SCK-CEN's BR2 reactor in Belgium. (Photos: KAERI)

The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute has developed a high-density uranium silicide fuel designed to replace high-enriched uranium in research reactors. Recent irradiation tests appear to be successful, KAERI reports, which means the fuel could be commercialized to continue a key global nuclear nonproliferation effort—converting research reactors to run on low-enriched uranium fuel.

Investments for peace

December 8, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear NewsKathryn Huff

Kathryn Huff

President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his “Atoms for Peace” speech to the United Nations General Assembly in December 1953. In this historic address, he invoked the existential threat of nuclear weapons proliferation and the potential horror of nuclear war to muster the diplomatic energy of the United Nations toward establishing peaceful uses for the atom. The speech launched domestic and international initiatives, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, that would underpin decades of robust, peaceful nuclear power commercialization and expansion.

This month, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of that speech, we celebrate Eisenhower’s prescience in suggesting that “experts would be mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medicine, and other peaceful activities” and “to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world.” Mobilizing American experts, of course, would mean refocusing the work of the national laboratories toward peaceful uses of the atom and repurposing the vast weapons complex investments of the 1940s toward more peaceful ends.

U.K., South Korea form new clean energy partnership

November 28, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
U.K. energy security secretary Claire Coutinho and South Korean minister for trade, industry, and energy Moon Kyu Bang, following the signing of the U.K.-ROK Clean Energy Partnership. (Photo: @ClaireCoutinho/X)

The United Kingdom has announced a new partnership with South Korea to accelerate the clean energy transition by strengthening cooperation on low-carbon technologies, domestic climate policies, and civil nuclear energy.

Signed November 22 in London by British energy security and net zero secretary Claire Coutinho and South Korean minister for trade, industry, and energy Moon Kyu Bang, the partnership promotes U.K.-South Korean business collaboration, addressing barriers to trade and encouraging mutual development of the two nations’ energy sectors.

U.S., Philippines ink civil nuclear pact

November 20, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Lotilla (seated, at left) and Blinken (seated, at right) sign the 123 Agreement in San Francisco. Looking on (left to right) are Ann Ganzer, principal deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. State Department; Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Philippine president; and Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. State Department. (Photo: @SecBlinken/X)

The United States and the Philippines last week signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement—known in policy wonk jargon as a 123 Agreement.

House approves FY 2024 energy funding bill

November 1, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

With a new speaker finally seated, the GOP-led House of Representatives recently passed the fiscal year 2024 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 4394) in a near–party line vote of 210–199. A lone Republican—Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado—opposed the measure, as did all voting Democrats.

U.S. supports Ghanaian nuclear program with $1.75 million

September 25, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation Ann Ganzer (right) with Nii Kwashie Allotey of the Ghanaian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (center). (Photo: U.S. Embassy in Ghana )

The U.S. Embassy in Ghana last week announced $1.75 million to support establishing the West African nation as a small modular reactor regional training hub and center of excellence for the sub-Saharan African region.

The project is backed by the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) capacity-building program, in which Ghana has participated since 2022.

Kerry announces more U.S.-backed nuclear plans for Europe

September 11, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear News


During a side event held at last week’s Three Seas Initiative Summit in Bucharest, Romania, special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry announced U.S. actions to further the role of new nuclear technologies in accelerating the clean energy transition in Europe.

These actions, according to a September 7 media note from the U.S. State Department, expand on Romania’s leadership role in deploying the first small modular reactor in Europe and in converting a former Romanian coal plant to an SMR facility.

Building on his rollout of the Project Phoenix initiative at last year’s COP27 climate change conference in Egypt, Kerry said that proposals from the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia have been selected to participate in the project and will receive support for coal-to-SMR feasibility studies.

Focus on China for new U.S. nuclear export controls

August 14, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has expanded the scope of its nuclear-related export controls on China and Macao (a special administrative region in southeastern China) by establishing additional nuclear nonproliferation controls and license requirements for items that could “contribute to nuclear activities of concern.” The BIS stated that the action, effective August 11, was taken in response to China’s military modernization and nuclear force expansion.

NNSA officials visit country of Georgia in support of nuclear safeguards

July 19, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
NNSA administrator Jill Hruby surveys the Administrative Boundary Line at South Ossetia. Russia occupies Georgian territory on the other side of the line. (Photo: NNSA)

National Nuclear Security Administration administrator Jill Hruby and deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation Corey Hinderstein visited the country of Georgia in southeastern Europe last month to discuss the NNSA’s bilateral partnerships, seek areas of cooperation, and get a closer look at how nuclear security is implemented at active border crossings in the region.

Nuclear energy a focus of new U.S.-U.K. pact

June 12, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
President Biden and Prime Minister Sunak chatted in the Oval Office last week during meetings to announce the Atlantic Declaration for a Twenty-First Century U.S.-U.K. Economic Partnership. (Source: Twitter/Rishi Sunak)

At a joint press conference in the White House East Room last week, President Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak—in Washington for two days of discussions with the president, members of Congress, and business leaders—debuted a new bilateral agreement dubbed the Atlantic Declaration for a Twenty-First Century U.S.-U.K. Economic Partnership.

U.K., South Korea issue joint declaration on nuclear cooperation

April 11, 2023, 9:40AMNuclear News

As part of the run-up to the G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy, and Environment in Japan on April 15–16, U.K. energy security secretary Grant Shapps met in Seoul yesterday with South Korean trade, industry, and energy minister Chang-yang Lee to discuss closer collaboration on clean energy development and energy security.

NNSA establishes Advisory Committee for Nuclear Security

April 11, 2023, 7:04AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has announced the establishment of the Advisory Committee for Nuclear Security (ACNS). Formerly known as the Defense Programs Advisory Committee, the newly formed ACNS is enlisting experts with knowledge of NNSA missions to provide independent advice and recommendations to the agency’s leadership.

NNSA announces progress in Mo-99 production using LEU

April 4, 2023, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

After more than a decade of global efforts led by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, all four major medical producers of the radioisotope molybdenum-99 for the U.S. market are now using low-enriched uranium (LEU) in their production processes instead of high-enriched uranium (HEU), the latter of which presents risks of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Bill to foster civil nuclear export strategy debuts

March 17, 2023, 9:29AMNuclear News
The U.S. Capitol building.

Further building on their already secure reputations as nuclear energy supporters, Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Jim Risch (R., Idaho) yesterday reintroduced the International Nuclear Energy Act (INEA). (The lawmakers are also cosponsors of two recently debuted nuclear-themed bills: February’s Nuclear Fuel Security Act and last week’s Reduce Russian Uranium Imports Act.)

DOE awards $38 million to advance used fuel recycling

October 26, 2022, 6:38AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy is providing $38 million in funding for a dozen projects aimed at developing technologies to advance spent nuclear fuel reprocessing, reduce the volume of high-level waste requiring permanent disposal, and provide domestic advanced reactor fuel stocks. The projects are being led by universities, private companies, and national laboratories.

NNSA officials visit Kazakhstan, discuss continued nuclear security

October 17, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News



The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration reported last week that NNSA administrator Jill Hruby and principal deputy administrator Frank Rose completed a trip to Kazakhstan on October 5 to meet with the country’s government officials. The trip served as a chance for Hruby and Rose to thank the officials for the nonproliferation and nuclear security partnership that exists between the United States and Kazakhstan. According to the NNSA, notable achievements under the partnership include Project Sapphire (see more below), the conversion of three research reactors, and efforts to counter nuclear smuggling.

New U.S.-Japan agreement on HEU-to-LEU conversion

September 29, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
NNSA administrator Jill Hruby (left) holds up the signed MOU on HEU conversion during the agency’s virtual meeting with Japan’s MEXT. (Credit: NNSA)

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT). The MOU describes their commitment to convert the Kindai University Teaching and Research Reactor (UTR-KINKI) from high-enriched uranium fuel to low-enriched uranium fuel. The nuclear nonproliferation–related agreement also calls for the secure transport of all the HEU to the United States for either downblending to LEU or disposition.