This article will cover the government’s side of the program to buy uranium that was downblended from being highly enriched for weapons to low enriched for power plants. It was called Megatons to Megawatts. There was some good that came out of the program, but that good may not have been for the United States. Most of what is available on the program all say the same thing and it all sounds like propaganda. There are very few people who actually spoke out against it.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation was left with around 1,500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU). Most of this was in nuclear weapons. On October 24, 1991, A physicist who worked public policy by the name of Thomas Neff proposed a way to end this. In a New York Times op-ed piece, he said that the United States should buy the HEU and turn it into low enriched uranium (LEU). By August 28, 1992, the Bush administration had worked out a deal and President Bush announced it on the 31st. President Clinton then signed that agreement in 1993.
The agreement, which was modified a few times, had the U.S. buy 500 metric tons of HEU, have the Russians convert it to LEU, and send 8 pounds of natural uranium to replace 1 pound of the enriched. The agent for this was the newly created United States Enrichment Corporation. The Russian side was handled by the Rosatom division Tenex. Rosatom is the Russian agency that controls all things atomic. The program was to last twenty years.
The Russians received $8 billion in cash and an amount of natural uranium worth $4 billion. The LEU that was bought supplied half of the fuel necessary to run the nuclear power plants in the US. That was ten percent of American power. No tax dollars went into this program, according to the government. Because the Russians received so much natural, unenriched uranium, they ended up selling that to three companies owned by companies in western countries.
Another benefit of this program is that almost 20,000 Soviet era nuclear weapons were dismantled.
That is the propaganda. That is the information found in most every story. Next article will cover the truth behind this.
- Centrus Part 6: The current CEO, Daniel Poneman
- Centrus Part 5: The dirty shutdown of the Paducah plant
- Centrus Part 4: The massive clean up in Paducah
- Centrus Part 3: The lawsuits for Paducah enrichment site
- Centrus Part 2: The Paducah, Kentucky enrichment site history
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