GAO report on U.S. ability to account for its nuclear material overseas

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report "U.S. Agencies Have Limited Ability to Account for, Monitor, and Evaluate the Security of U.S. Nuclear Material Overseas" (GAO-11-920 September 8, 2011), which evaluates the ability of U.S. agencies to track U.S.-obligated nuclear material. This document is an unclassified summary of a classified report submitted in June 2011. According to GAO, "DOE, NRC, and State are not able to fully account for U.S. nuclear material overseas that is subject to nuclear cooperation agreement terms because the agreements do not stipulate systematic reporting of such information, and there is no U.S. policy to pursue or obtain such information." The report also describes as inadequate the efforts to ensure physical protection of the U.S. material in partner countries - "of the 55 visits [to evaluate physical protection] made from 1994 through 2010, U.S. teams found that countries met international security guidelines approximately 50 percent of the time."

The report provides some information about U.S.-origin highly-enriched uranium overseas. Overall, the United States exported about 17,500 kg of HEU. Of this amount, about 12,400 kg are not eligible to return to the United States. "Over 10,000 kg" of HEU is contained in fuels of special-purpose reactors in Germany, France, and Japan. These fuels do not meet the GTRI eligibility criteria. Further 2,000 kg of HEU is in EURATOM member states. Of the eligible material, GTRI has removed more than 1,240 kilograms of U.S. HEU from Australia, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Japan, the Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey. All U.S.-obligated HEU has been removed from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Greece, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey.