The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration announced that it has removed 50 kg of fresh HEU fuel from Ukraine. By transferring the fuel, Ukraine is fulfilling its commitment to remove all HEU that it made at the Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010. Russia also pledged to assist Ukraine in removing HEU from its territory by 2012. The program is led and financed by the United States through the Global Threat Reduction Initiative.
Fresh HEU fuel removed from Ukraine
The shipment included fresh HEU fuel from two research facilities - the VVR-M research reactor at the Nuclear Research Institute in Kiev and the
IR-600 subcritical assembly at the National University of Nuclear Industry and Energy in Sevastopol - and from the Kharkiv Institute for Physics and Technology. NNSA reports that "prior to removing the HEU, NNSA completed two air shipments of low enriched uranium (LEU) to replace the HEU located at the Kiev Institute for Nuclear Research and the Kharkiv Institute for Physics and Technology." It is not immediately clear if one of these shipments was the one that delivered LEU fuel for the VVR-M reactor in May 2009.
According to the NNSA photo account of the operation, in Sevastopol, S-36 fuel pins were loaded into a TK-S15 container on December 21, 2010. The container was loaded to a plane on December 25, 2010. Containers with the VVR-M reactor fuel were transported to the Kiev airport on December 27, 2010. No information is available about the material from Kharkiv, but it can be assumed that it was flown to Russia on December 30, 2010. NNSA reported that the shipment involved three separate flights.
In May 2010, Ukraine sent spent fuel of the VVR-M reactor to Russia. That shipment was reported to contain 56 kg of HEU. About 50 kg of HEU still remains in Ukraine (most likely in Kharkiv). It will be transferred to Russia in 2011.
UPDATE: According to NNSA, the following material has been removed in these shipments: "16 kilograms of fresh HEU from the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, 25 kilograms of fresh HEU from Sevastopol University, and 10 kilograms of fresh HEU from the Kiev Institute of Nuclear Research."