£12 million shuts weapons-grade reactor

The UK government will today sign a £12 million aid agreement with the US to accelerate the closure of one of the last operating weapons-grade plutonium reactors in the former Soviet Union.

Trade and Industry Minister, Nigel Griffiths will today sign an agreement with the US to provide £12 million of aid to help accelerate the closure of one of the last operating weapons-grade plutonium reactors in the Former Soviet Union.

According to a statement from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the agreement will assist in the permanent closure of the final operating plutonium production reactor in the closed nuclear city of Zheleznogorsk in Siberia.

The UK contribution will support the wider US led programme to close the three remaining plutonium production reactors in Russia. These reactors also provide electricity to the Russian cities of Seversk and Zheleznogorsk.

The UK contribution to the programme will support the design and construction of a replacement energy plant which should begin operation in 2011. The Russian Government has agreed to permanently shut down the reactors once this energy plant is operating.

“The UK is engaged in major programmes across the Former Soviet Union to help tackle the Cold War legacy,” said Mr Griffiths. “These remaining Soviet-era weapons grade reactors produce around 1.2 metric tons of plutonium each year – enough to arm 300 nuclear weapons.”

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