Prospects for Conversion of HEU-Fueled Research Reactors in Russia

Anatoli S. Diakov, "Prospects for Conversion of HEU-Fueled Research Reactors in Russia," Science & Global Security 22, no. 3 (2014): 166-187

The importance of converting research reactors from highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel, with enrichment levels as high as 90-93 percent uranium-235, to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, was recognized in the 1970s. Russia has developed and produced fuel enriched to below 20 percent to replace HEU-fuel for research reactors it had supplied to Hungary, Ukraine, Vietnam, the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, Libya, Bulgaria, and North Korea, but until recently, has not given priority to the task of converting its own research reactors, despite the fact that Russia now has more HEU-fueled research reactors than any other country. In December 2010, Russia and the United States agreed to conduct a preliminary study on the possibility of converting six Russian research reactors. This article assesses the prospects for their conversion.

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