Joint Statement on the Exchange of Highly Enriched Uranium Needed for Supply of European Research Reactors and Isotope Production Facilities
Meeting in Washington, DC in the United States of America, on the margins of the fourth Nuclear Security Summit, the Department of Energy / National Nuclear Security Administration of the United States of America (DOE/NNSA) and the Euratom Supply Agency (ESA), supported by the European Commission, hereinafter "the Participants", in consultation with the Member States of the European Atomic Energy Community ("Euratom") concerned, reaffirm their endeavors to working together to minimize the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) for civilian purposes, where technically and economically feasible.
The Participants note that HEU currently remains important for a variety of peaceful scientific applications and for the production of critical medical isotopes, while at the same time HEU constitutes a significant security risk in the hands of unauthorized actors. Hence, the Participants encourage conversion of European research reactors and isotope production industries to non-HEU-based fuel and targets, where technically and economically feasible. At the same time they acknowledge that, in some facilities, HEU is still indispensable during the transition period to conduct peaceful scientific research or to produce medical radioisotopes used for radiopharmaceutical products.
In light of the 2012 Belgium-France-Netherlands-United States Joint Statement “Minimization of HEU and the Reliable Supply of Medical Radioisotopes,” the Participants, fully sharing the objective of the progressive overall minimization of the use of HEU in civil applications, acknowledged that a significant amount of excess and unirradiated HEU exists in Europe as a result of past activities. Hence, they signed, in December 2014, a "Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration of the United States of America and the Euratom Supply Agency concerning the exchange of highly enriched uranium needed for supply of European research reactors and isotope production facilities" outlining the principles of an “exchange” going forward, in order to achieve a better overall balance of HEU quantities related to such civilian use in Europe.
The Participants, in cooperation with the Euratom Member States concerned, committed that, in exchange for HEU supplied from the United States to research reactors and isotope production facilities in Euratom Member States, Euratom Member States would transfer unirradiated, excess HEU to the United States for peaceful uses, including for downblending and fabrication into low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, or would recycle and down-blend excess HEU to LEU in Euratom Member State facilities. Transfers would be conducted subject to applicable domestic laws of the respective participants. The quantities of this excess material are to be overall greater than the total quantity of HEU that eligible facilities in Euratom Member States expect to receive from the United States in the future for civilian activities.
The Participants salute the progress achieved jointly by all the countries involved in this effort. Indeed, sufficient quantities of excess HEU have been identified and proposed for the exchange to meet this goal.
The United Kingdom, France, and other European partners have taken important steps to identify excess HEU that they plan to ship to the United States over the next two years – one of the largest such efforts of its type. This exchange is intended to help ensure that even after additional exports of HEU are sent from the United States to Europe for the production of medical isotopes and other societal benefits, net HEU reduction will be achieved.
The Participants share a common view on the logistical and economic challenges that will still have to be met. They trust that, in cooperation with the Euratom Member States concerned, this exchange, as an element of the HEU minimization policy, will advance the goal of global nuclear security.