US and Kazakhstan to Minimize Highly Enriched Uranium in Kurchatov

NUR-SULTAN – The United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) representatives visited the National Nuclear Center in Kurchatov, a city in the East Kazakhstan Region, and addressed the processes of minimizing highly enriched uranium on July 15, reported the Kazakh Ministry of Energy press service.

The United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) representatives with Kazakh Ministry of Energy’s officials during the meeting. Photo credit: Kazakh Ministry of Energy press service

One of the major accomplishments of the cooperation between the two countries was the conversion of research reactors from highly enriched uranium fuel into low enriched uranium fuel and the utilization of highly enriched uranium in Kazakhstan.

The operation of the reactor falls within the purview of the center in Kurchatov, built on the territory of the military-industrial complex of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. The U.S. delegation visited the center’s technical facilities.

Kazakhstan has been carrying out work on the conversion of research reactors since 2010 to reduce the enrichment of research reactor fuel to 20 percent, as well as to process and dispose of highly enriched uranium.

The US also invited Kazakhstan to participate in the program on small modular reactors. On July 17, Kazakh Minister of Energy Bolat Akchulakov met with the U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Kazakhstan Judy Kuo and representatives of the US State Department’s Cooperative Threat Reduction program’s Bureau for International Nuclear Nonproliferation Security. The sides discussed the Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) program.

FIRST is a capacity-building program designed to deepen strategic ties, support clean energy innovation, and advance technical collaboration with partner nations on secure, safe and responsible use of nuclear energy infrastructure.

The program presents Kazakhstan with an opportunity to learn about the advanced nuclear technologies of the world’s top nuclear power plants. Earlier this week, Kazakh Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov said Kazakhstan plans to use best international practices and advanced technologies in the construction of a new nuclear power plant.


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