Congress urged to restrict Russian medical isotopes produced with HEU

A group of U.S. experts urged Congress to restrict use of medical isotopes produced in Russia using highly-enriched uranium. In a letter to key legislators, that was published by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project of the University of Texas at Austin, the group argues that the recent Russian program to expand production of medical isotopes in reactors that use HEU as fuel and irradiate HEU targets would "would undermine Washington's efforts to promote domestic production of medical isotopes without bomb-grade uranium and to phase-out global commerce in such uranium." The letter urges the House of Representatives to amend the American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2011 passed by the Senate in November 2011 to require "preferential procurement" of medical isotopes produced without HEU. (The bill was introduced in the Senate in January 2011.)

At least two institutes in Russia are producing medical Mo-99 - the Obninsk branch of the Karpov Scientific Research Institute of Physical Chemistry (NIFKhI, VVR-ts reactor) and the Scientific Research Institute of Nuclear Reactors (NIIAR) at Dimitrovgrad (RBT-10/2 and RBT-6 reactors). NIFKhI has already shipped isotopes to Poland and to Iran, NIIAR is yet to begin shipments to customers. Their parent company, Isotope, a subsidiary of Rosatom, works in partnership with the Canadian company Nordion.