NNSA and Japan agree to convert Japan’s last research reactor using highly enriched uranium

Jill Hruby, NNSA Administrator

NNSA News:

WASHINGTON — Building on years of close nonproliferation cooperation, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, of Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) announced a new commitment to convert the Kindai University Teaching and Research Reactor (UTR-KINKI) from Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) to Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) and return all HEU to the United States.

Following the withdrawal of all HEU from the Kyoto University Critical Assembly, announced in August, UTR-KINKI is the last HEU-powered research reactor in Japan, underscoring the importance of this new commitment for both countries. In May, President Biden and Prime Minister Kishida announced that NNSA and MEXT had removed more than 30 kilograms of HEU from three Japanese research reactors.

“This new agreement to convert UTR-KINKI – Japan’s last HEU-powered research reactor – and to retire its HEU is the latest achievement in a remarkable year of U.S.-Japan non-proliferation milestones,” said NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby during a virtual signing ceremony. “We value our close bilateral relationship with Japan and look forward to announcing the fulfillment of this latest commitment in the years to come.”

After the reactor is converted to LEU fuel, the HEU will be safely transported to the United States for blending with LEU and/or disposal.

NNSA’s Office of Materials Management and Minimization works with partner nations and institutions around the world to eliminate the need, presence, or production of military-grade nuclear materials. To date, the office has converted or verified the shutdown of 108 research reactors and medical isotope production facilities and removed or confirmed the disposal of nearly 7,275 kilograms of weapons-grade nuclear material, enough for about 325 nuclear weapons.

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