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NRDC: Nuclear Summit Should Address Highly Enriched Uranium Security Risks
Threat Stands Out Among Vulnerable Nuclear Material

WASHINGTON (April 9, 2010) – When President Obama hosts his counterparts from 46 other countries here for the Nuclear Security Summit April 12-13, the leaders should agree to take strong steps to safeguard highly enriched uranium, according to nuclear experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

This material is difficult to detect and relatively easy to use by terrorists seeking to build a crude nuclear weapon with potentially devastating effects, according to Thomas Cochran, senior staff scientist and former director of the nuclear program at NRDC.

The following is a statement from Thomas Cochran at NRDC:

“There is no higher homeland security priority than to keep terrorists from getting their hands on nuclear weapons material. Safeguarding or eliminating worldwide stocks of highly enriched uranium is essential.

“Hard to detect and easy to smuggle, highly enriched uranium is used in scores of research and medical reactors in dozens of countries. A crude but potentially devastating nuclear device can be made with as much of this material as would fit in a six-pack of soda cans.

“We urge President Obama to seek a global ban on the commercial use of highly enriched uranium. Until then, securing and reducing the global stocks of this material should be a top priority for world leaders – and for this summit.

“It is important, also, to safeguard plutonium, which can also be used to make nuclear weapons. Because plutonium is harder to conceal and requires more sophisticated engineering to use as weapons material, however, we believe the higher priority should be given to securing and reducing the global stocks of highly enriched uranium.”

Cochran will speak about the need to reduce the risks posed by highly enriched uranium on Monday, April, 12, at a separate conference of NGOs in Washington. The conference, entitled “Next Generation Security: Meeting the Global Challenge” is sponsored by the Fissile Materials Working Group, a coalition of more than 40 experts in nuclear security and nonproliferation. For more details, contact Sean Harder at 563 264-6880, sharder@stanleyfoundation.org, or visit http://fmwg.presstools.org/node/35105

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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