Austria and Norway published a working paper (PDF file) that summarized the discussions of the Second International Symposium on the Minimization of Highly Enriched Uranium that was held in Vienna on 23-25 January 2012, which Austria and Norway co-hosted together with the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
Policy ideas and recommendations were summarized by the Symposium co-hosts as follows:
The following recommendations may not be universally shared by all the Symposium participants, but they reflect a possible policy agenda moving forward.
Minimization of highly enriched uranium
- Continue to convert highly enriched uranium-based facilities and processes, remove material from as many countries and locations as possible and ensure the highest levels of security wherever these materials remain.
- Finish the miniature neutron source reactor conversion process, recognizing that politically difficult locations make such activities challenging but also necessary.
- Consider additional incentives for conversion and removal.
- Establish an internationally agreed norm that low enriched uranium will be used in place of highly enriched uranium in any new facility or process under development, design or construction (including in possible new applications such as space reactors).
- For facilities for which low enriched uranium fuels are not yet available, secure commitment to reduce enrichment below weapons grade and to the lowest level possible, until such time as low enriched uranium fuel can be qualified.
- Develop an international, cooperative research and development programme to examine options for the management of spent fuel from newly developed low enriched uranium fuel types resulting from conversion efforts.
- Encourage security requirements that correspond to material types and demonstrate where conversion to low enriched uranium assists in lowering security costs, in order to encourage conversion decisions.
- Encourage members of IAEA to recognize and support the expertise and capacity of the Agency to further assist international endeavours for the minimization of highly enriched uranium.
Civilian naval propulsion reactors
- Establish a global norm that low enriched uranium will be used in place of highly enriched uranium in any new nuclear-powered civilian vessels.
- Phase out or convert existing civilian vessels fuelled by highly enriched uranium.
- Develop international standards or guidelines for public declarations of inventories of highly enriched uranium on a regular basis with consistent form and content.
- Encourage the voluntary declaration of inventories of highly enriched uranium globally, and in particular, given the large quantities, the declaration of more highly enriched uranium to be in excess of military needs (including from naval programmes) and commit to blend down material declared to be in excess.
- Promote and support independent efforts that add to public understanding of facilities and stocks.
Expansion of efforts
- Expand the scope of conversion efforts to include critical assemblies and pulsed reactors.
- Recognizing the challenges, begin a conversation on assessing inventory needs for ongoing use of highly enriched uranium in military vessels, and conduct a feasibility study to allow for possible low enriched uranium-based vessels for future generations of submarines and aircraft carriers.
- Shift the focus of international dialogue from minimization of highly enriched uranium to the elimination of civilian uses of highly enriched uranium.