Friday, December 31, 2010

Huge success for the US National Nuclear Security Administration

Early in his administration, President Obama established a goal to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years -- a task that encompasses locking down materials in 35 countries.

Yesterday, Rachel Maddow had an exclusive interview with Andrew Bieniawski, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration's associate deputy administrator for global threat reduction, on the fact that over the holidays, the NNSA has succeeded in removing 111 pounds of highly enriched uranium from Ukraine and sent it to Russia where it will be blended down, making it useless for bomb-making.

All the movement has to be done in secret and coordinated with other nations, he said.

Four nations were involved in the Ukraine operation, he said.

"Pulling this off is a huge challenge," he said.

The removal operation completed Thursday involved 21 specially designed casks for the uranium to be flown on five flights from three cities, officials told The Associated Press. The operation was delayed for days by ice storms in Ukraine. The U.S. also helped deliver some of the replacement fuel to Ukraine.

"This may have been the most complicated operation NNSA has done in recent years," said Andrew Bieniawski, the U.S. agency's associate deputy administrator for global threat reduction.

On Obama's goal of securing it all in 4 years - here's how we're doing.

The "vulnerable nuclear material" was in 35 nations, D'Agostino said.

"We're done with 19 countries and have 16 more to go," D'Agostino told Maddow, noting the U.S. and other countries were on track to complete removal by the end of the four-year deadline established by the nations.

I doubt this story will get much air time - especially during the holiday season. But it really is one of the most important success stories of the Obama administration - and great news for the globe!

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