U.S. reported to complete HEU shipment to France

The United States is reported to be shipping 186.4 kg of HEU (174 kg U-235) to France, where the material will be used to manufacture fuel for the High Flux Reactor (Réacteur à Haut Flux, RHF) at the Institut Max von Laue-Paul Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble. The material was supplied by the Y-12 National Security Complex, that requested the license (License Number XSNM3633) in March 2010. According to Tom Clements, nonproliferation policy director for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, NRC granted the license on 16 March 2012.

Frank Munger of the KnoxNews.com, quotes the NNSA spokesman as saying that it is the last HEU shipment for the reactor at ILL. Since the late 1990s, France used Russian-supplied HEU to manufacture fuel for the RHF reactor. Russia, however, is unlikely to send more HEU to France.

At the time the application was made, it was planned that the material will be delivered in two shipments of about 80 kg each. The first was expected take place in 2010, the second - in 2012. However, since the license had not been granted until March 2012, the material is sent to France in one shipment.

Shipments of HEU for research reactor fuel are different from those covered by the recent agreement between Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and the United States to convert the medical isotope production in Europe to LEU.

UPDATE: The information about the date of shipment was updated.

UPDATE: According to Greenpeace France, the ship, Oceanic Pintail, which was in Charleston as of April 4, is expected to reach France in six days [i.e. around April 10]. The transfer of uranium is managed by Areva, which refused to comment on the details of the shipment. At the same time, NNSA is reported to insist that the uranium is already in France. It may have been transferred there by air.