President Obama Orders Release of U.S. Inventory of Atomic-Bomb Materials

President Obama speaks during a plenary session of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit on April 1, 2016, in Washington. (Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images)
President Obama speaks during a plenary session of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit on April 1, 2016, in Washington.
(Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images)

The United States released a public inventory of its supplies of highly enriched uranium, the material that can be used to make nuclear weapons, President Obama said Friday as he opened the second day of the biennial Nuclear Security Summit.

“That inventory is one that we have reduced considerably,” Obama said. “When it comes to our nuclear-powered ships and submarines, we are exploring ways to further reduce our holdings of highly enriched uranium.”

It was the first time in a decade the United States released details on its supply of the highly enriched uranium (HEU). It reported 586 metric tons of HEU in the United States in 2013, down from 741 metric tons in 1996.

The inventory includes HEU for “national security or non-national security programs, including nuclear weapons, naval propulsion, nuclear energy, and science,” said Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the National Security Council. It also counts HEU that can be converted to low-enriched uranium and HEU in spent nuclear reactor fuel.

The new U.S. figures reflect a reduced supply of HEU worldwide, the White House said. Since the last summit in 2014, 10 nations have removed or disposed of about 450 kilograms — about 990 pounds — of HEU. Argentina, Switzerland and Uzbekistan are now free of HEU, as is the entire region of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Obama opened his summit-related activities Friday with a meeting with allies who helped shape last year’s deal with Iran that stopped that nation’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for reduced economic sanctions.

“After nearly two years of intensive negotiations and strong sanctions, the countries represented in this room achieved what decades of animosity and rhetoric did not: a long-term deal that closes off every possible path for Iran to build a nuclear weapon and subjects Iran to the most comprehensive nuclear inspections ever negotiated,” Obama said.

“It will take time for Iran to reintegrate into the global economy, but Iran is already beginning to see the benefits of this deal,” Obama said. “I think it’s important to note that this deal does not resolve all of our differences with Iran, including destabilizing activities in the region.”

Critics, including Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates as well as the government of Israel, say the agreement gives Iran too much leeway to cheat.

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SOURCE: USA Today – David Jackson