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What's New

U.S. Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel Acceptance

The objective of the U.S. Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel (FRR SNF) Acceptance program is the reduction and eventual elimination of the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in civil commerce worldwide by repatriating U.S.-origin HEU fuel located in facilities around the globe back to the United States.

Locations with U.S. Origin Uranium

Argentina

Australia

Austria

Bangladesh

Belgium

Brazil

Canada

Chile

Colombia

Democratic
Republic of Congo

Denmark

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Indonesia

Iran

Israel

Italy

Jamaica

Japan

Malaysia

Mexico

Netherlands

Pakistan

Peru

Philippines

Portugal

Romania

Slovakia

South Africa

South Korea

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Taiwan

Thailand

Turkey

United Kingdom

Uruguay

Venezuela

 

Beginning in the 1950s, the United States initiated its “Atoms for Peace” program, which provided nuclear technology to foreign nations for peaceful use in exchange for their promise to forego development of nuclear weapons. A major element of this program was the provision of research reactor technology and the HEU needed to fuel the early-design research reactors. Research reactors have important medical, agricultural, and industrial applications; nevertheless, the HEU contained within the fuel elements can also be used in nuclear weapons. To maintain control over this U.S.-origin material, the spent fuel was returned to the United States.

  • The program may accept and manage U.S.-origin spent nuclear fuel from eligible research reactors in 41 countries.
  • The program is a voluntary program. High-income countries pay a management and acceptance fee to the United States and pay for the shipment of SNF to the United States. Other-than-high-income countries do not pay this fee, and the United States subsidizes the transportation of their SNF back to the United States.
  • In November 2004, the Department of Energy extended the fuel acceptance policy for an additional ten years, until May 12, 2016, for irradiation of eligible fuel, and until May 12, 2019, for fuel acceptance. Extending the deadline of the program prevents the disruption of important research reactor operations (such as production of medical isotopes), permits continued fuel acceptance until suitable replacement LEU fuels are qualified and available, and allows time for affected operators to make other arrangements for disposition.