US/UK fight against nuclear threats

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Energy minister Malcolm Wicks has announced a new collaboration between the UK and the US that will address nuclear and radiological security threats.

As part of the programme, an initial £2m will be invested in initiatives designed to secure high-risk nuclear and other radioactive materials and combat their illegal trafficking.

‘Our first joint initiative will be a new project to enhance long-term security of highly active spent radioactive sources in Ukraine and we are already in discussion with Ukrainian and the US about how best to move this forward,’ said Wicks.

The collaboration builds on the progress made by the UK’s existing Global Threat Reduction programme, which includes the management of the 30 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel from decommissioned submarines in north west Russia and the closure of weapons grade plutonium production reactors in Russia and Kazakhstan.

‘In the past two months, MOD has placed contracts worth some £12m for construction and procurement projects in support of the chemical weapon destruction facility at Shchuch’ye in Russia. We have now placed contracts with a total value of over £75m on behalf of UK, Canada and a dozen other international donors. These projects will be completed over the next few months, and help Russia to bring this key facility into operation by about the end of this year,’ said Bob Ainsworth, minister of state for the armed forces.