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Unmaking the BombA Fissile Material Approach to Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation$
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Harold A. Feiveson, Alexander Glaser, Zia Mian, and Frank N. von Hippel

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027748

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027748.001.0001

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Ending the Use of HEU as a Reactor Fuel

Ending the Use of HEU as a Reactor Fuel

(p.125) 7 Ending the Use of HEU as a Reactor Fuel
Unmaking the Bomb

Harold A. Feiveson

The MIT Press

Highly enriched uranium (HEU) was used in the Hiroshima bomb, a gun-type device the design of which is well within the capabilities of terrorist groups. This chapter explores the Use of HEU as fuel in research reactors and in naval propulsion reactors and efforts to end such use. Beginning in the 1950s, HEU began being used to fuel research reactors that the United States and Soviet Union exported to about 40 countries. Proliferation concerns led the United States and Soviet Union to launch programs to these reactors to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. Russia, however, has been slow to convert or shut down its own HEU-fueled research reactors which now constitute about half of the global total of about 100. The United States, United Kingdom, Russia and India also use HEU fuel in about 200 naval propulsion reactors, with the United States responsible for over half of the world’s nuclear-powered submarines and ships. Discussion has just begun of a norm that would require future naval reactors to be LEU fuelled, like those already used by France and China.

Keywords:   Highly enriched uranium (HEU), Low enriched uranium (LEU), Nuclear terrorism, Research reactors, Gun-type nuclear device, Naval propulsion reactors

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