US and Kazakhstan complete secret transfer of Soviet nuclear materials
In the largest nuclear transfer operation ever mounted, US and Kazakh officials moved 11 tons of highly enriched uranium and 3 tons of plutonium some 1,890 miles by rail and road across the Central Asian country.
Working under extraordinary secrecy, the US and Kazakh governments in the past year have moved nuclear material that could have been used to make more than 770 bombs from a location feared vulnerable to terrorist attack to a new high-security facility.
In the largest such operation ever mounted, US and Kazakh officials transferred 11 tons of highly enriched uranium and 3 tons of plutonium some 1,890 miles by rail and road across the Central Asian country.
The transfer culminated a project spanning three American presidencies that was intended to prevent the material from falling into the wrong hands.
The last of 12 shipments arrived Monday at the new state-of-the-art storage facility in remote northeastern Kazakhstan, near the border with Russia and China. The 13-day journey began at the mothballed BN-350 fast-breeder reactor in the Caspian Sea port of Aktau. McClatchy agreed to withhold the precise location of the storage site for security reasons.
“The most immediate and extreme threat [to international security] is a terrorist acquiring nuclear material,” said Thomas D’Agostino, the head of the US National Nuclear Security Administration, the overseer of the US nuclear arsenal. “This takes one of those pieces, a big chunk, off the table.”
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