Concerns raised on possible diminishing nuclear capabilities

The Daily Times reported Wednesday that U.S. Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, led the Ohio Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz urging the Department of Energy (DOE) to identify viable near-term and long-term options to preserve the United States’ domestic enrichment supply, which fulfills multiple national security and energy security needs including powering the nuclear Navy and maintaining our nuclear deterrent.

In the letter, the delegation cited the importance of the American Centrifuge Project at Piketon.

The letter read in part, “We remain concerned that the United States is at risk of losing its domestic enrichment capability, which, since World War II, has been used to meet our critical natural security, energy security and nonproliferation needs."

Now the Daily Times has received a disturbing report from USEC, Inc. that seems to follow up on that letter.

An article from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, written by George David Banks and Michael Wallace, warns, “The United States is at risk of finding its nuclear weapons capabilities severely weakened by the absence of an available capability to enrich uranium. International legal obligations prohibit the United States from using, for military purposes, foreign-produced enriched uranium or uranium enriched here in this country by foreign-source technology. With the closure of the Paducah, Ky., plant earlier this year, the United States has no domestic facility that uses U.S.-origin technology to enrich uranium, which, for example, could then be used to produce tritium, a key component in maintaining our nuclear arsenal. Further, existing stockpiles of tritium and enriched uranium produced by U.S.-origin technology are limited. Efforts to deploy a next-generation American enrichment technology must succeed so that our nation has the ability to address the forthcoming shortage of this strategic material. This national security requirement could be met with little cost to taxpayers if the federal government implemented policies that ensure a strong U.S. enrichment industry.”

A communication from Paul Jacobson, Vice President of Communications for USEC, Inc., read, “Today, while Iran and North Korea continue to enrich uranium, the United States has no technology of its own to do the same. This situation poses serious national security, non-proliferation and energy security issues for the United States and it is the subject of a new report from the highly respected Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. The report, titled “Recapturing U.S. Leadership in Uranium Enrichment” is available at this link: http://csis.org/publication/recapturing-us-leadership-uranium-enrichment.”

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