OF THE MEGATONS TO MEGAWATTS PROGRAM
(as of September 1, 2001)
October 1992:The Energy Policy Act creates the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) to take over all uranium enrichment activities of the U.S. government.
February 1993: The United States and the Russian Federation sign a government-to-government agreement concerning the disposition and purchase of 500 metric tons (MT) of highly enriched uranium (HEU) extracted from Russian nuclear weapons and converted into low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.
March 1993: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Ministry of Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation (MINATOM) sign Protocol working out specific transparency procedures to ensure the LEU provided by Russia comes from HEU derived from nuclear weapons. DOE is responsible for monitoring transparency activities.
May 1993: The Department of State for the U.S. government and MINATOM for the Russian Federation sign the Basic Principles of the HEU contract at ceremonies in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Principles list the major terms to be included in the HEU implementing contract.
July 1993: USEC begins operations.
January 1994: Leaders of the United States, Russia and Ukraine sign the Trilateral Agreement at the Presidential Summit in Moscow. In the Agreement, Ukraine agrees to dismantle its nuclear weapons and send them to Russia for deactivation of the nuclear warheads. In return, Ukraine would receive commercial nuclear reactor fuel.
January 1994: Commercial implementing contract for the Russian HEU Purchase Program is signed in Moscow by the Executive Agents for the U.S. and Russian governments: USEC and Techsnabexport (TENEX), respectively. The contract establishes commercial terms for orders, quantities, deliveries and payments for the blending down of 500 MT of Russian HEU from dismantled nuclear warheads into LEU fuel to be purchased by USEC over a period of 20 years. This commercial program has come to be known as “Megatons to Megawatts”.
October 1994: Russia completes test runs to convert and dilute HEU to LEU according to technical specifications.
December 1994: USEC places first order for LEU derived from about 6 MT of HEU for calendar year 1995, the maximum amount Russia is capable of processing for delivery in 1995.
June 1995: For the first time in history, uranium in nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union is converted into fuel for commercial nuclear power plants. The first two shipments of LEU derived from Russian HEU arrive in the United States. Shipment #1 consists of 16 cylinders holding 24 MT of LEU derived from 0.786 MT of HEU. Shipment #2 consists of 12 cylinders holding 18 MT of LEU derived from 0.59 MT of HEU.
April 26, 1996: President Clinton signs into law the USEC Privatization Act which, among other things, directs USEC to return to the Russian executive agent (i.e., TENEX) the natural uranium component of shipments. The Act facilitates Russia’s disposition of the natural uranium beginning in January 1997.
September 1996: USEC and TENEX sign contract amendment in London implementing provisions of the USEC Privatization Act, including provisions to: (1) free USEC (from 1997) of responsibility for the natural uranium material related to the shipments, and (2) direct return of the natural uranium to TENEX, with restrictions on its sale in the United States.
November 1996: USEC and TENEX sign contract amendment in Moscow that implements agreement for five years on HEU purchase quantities and prices.
March 1999: The United States and Russia sign a government-to-government agreement that:
Concurrently, Russia signs a long-term contract, with market-based pricing, to sell the natural uranium component of the HEU-to-LEU shipments to the Cogema/Cameco/Nukem consortium.
May 5, 2000: USEC and TENEX reach an agreement in principle to amend the HEU contract and adopt market-based payment terms starting in calendar year 2002.
September 2001: USEC achieves milestone of 5,000 warheads eliminated.
For further information, see www.usec.com.