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U.S. Touts Plan To Control Nuclear Materials

26 May 2004 -- U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham says that Russia, the United States, and the UN nuclear watchdog have agreed to cooperate on a program to safeguard nuclear materials.

Abraham described the initiative today at an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference in Vienna on nuclear safety.

Abraham said the $450-million, U.S.-funded- program will collect and dispose of dangerous radioactive materials from around the world. Abraham said one goal is to return low-enriched uranium sent from the United States to other countries for research reactors. Another goal is to bring some tons of highly enriched uranium originating in Russia to the United States.

IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei said the program's importance is highlighted by a recent discovery of a global black market supplying nuclear materials to countries like Libya, North Korea, and Iran.

Abraham said the program is aimed at controlling not only materials that could be used for nuclear weapons, but also dangerous radioactive materials that could be spread by so-called dirty bombs, which use conventional explosives to spread low-level radioactive materials.