Enriched uranium going back to U.S.: PM
Highly enriched uranium being held in Canada will be sent to the U.S. to be converted into a form that can't be used for nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced during a nuclear security summit in Washington.
"Canada recognizes that nuclear terrorism is an immediate threat to global security. Terrorists could possibly use highly enriched uranium found in spent nuclear fuel to make bombs," Harper told reporters. "Therefore, the best defence is to store nuclear material in conditions of maximum security."
The material is currently being held at Ontario's Chalk River Laboratories, which produces about a third of the world's supply of medical isotopes. The reactor there is currently offline for repairs.
After the medical isotopes are manufactured, the weapons-grade uranium remains in Canada. Critics say it's more than enough material to produce a significant number of nuclear weapons.
Harper said the material, which had been imported from the U.S., will be transferred over an eight-year period starting this year and will result in lower costs to Canada in the future.
Shipping the spent highly enriched uranium to the U.S. is part of an effort to consolidate nuclear material at a smaller number of secure locations.
World leaders and delegations from 47 countries are gathering in Washington for U.S. President Barack Obama's two-day summit to reduce the threat of having a nuclear weapons fall into the hands of terrorists.
Obama wants world leaders with nuclear programs to secure any material that could be used by terrorists to either build a nuclear weapon or a crude dirty bomb.
With files from The Canadian Press