Trilateral Initiative on Verifying Excess Weapon Origin Fissile Materials

November 8, 1996
Washington, D.C.

The United States, the Russian Federation, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have launched a new initiative concerning the application of IAEA verification of weapon origin fissile materials. U.S. Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary, Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Viktor Mikhailov, and IAEA Director General Hans Blix announced the trilateral initiative on September 17, 1996, at the 40th General Conference of the IAEA in Vienna, Austria.

The trilateral initiative, which is to result in a joint progress report by June 1997, is parallel to, and complementary to, commitments made by Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin regarding the transparency and irreversibility of nuclear arms reduction.

As the first step in the initiative, representatives from Russia and the IAEA visited three Department of Energy sites this week: Argonne National Laboratory - West; the Hanford Site; and the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site. During the visits to Hanford and Rocky Flats, information was exchanged on U.S.–IAEA experience regarding inspections under the Voluntary Offer Safeguards Agreement at U.S. facilities to verify that excess plutonium currently under IAEA safeguards at those sites is not used for weapons.

Today the first trilateral consultations at the expert level were conducted. It was decided that further discussion would occur in Moscow in December 1996.

NOTE: Reporters may obtain more information by contacting Amber Jones, Department of Energy Press Office, at (202) 586-5806.