On June 25, 2012 Barack Obama declared a national emergency in his latest executive order. The order titled, ‘Russian Highly Enriched Uranium,” stated that in light of earlier policy EOs (12938, 13085, 13159) that Barack Obama finds,
“that the risk of nuclear proliferation created by the accumulation of a large volume of weapons-usable fissile material in the territory of the Russian Federation continues to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.”
The original order was signed by former President Bill Clinton in 2000 and was to protect payments that the U. S. made to the Russian Federation under the agreement between the two governments concerning the Disposition of Highly Enriched Uranium Extracted from Nuclear Weapons, or what is commonly referred to as HEU Agreements.
Under these agreements, the U. S. pays the Russian Federation to convert approximately 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium that is left in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union into low-enriched uranium to be used as fuel in commercial nuclear reactors.
The USEC, which has been subsidized considerably by taxpayers (recently with $280 million), is the firm that converts the uranium from weapons grade to fuel for the reactors claims that up to ten percent of electricity generated in America comes from this uranium through the Megatons to Megawatts program.
The program itself is scheduled to end in 2013. At that time the USEC claims that it will have converted 20,000 Russian nuclear warhead into nuclear fuel.
However, Russia has indicated that it will not renew the agreement and will begin selling its “downblended” uranium to India and Japan.
Obama also sent a letter to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and the President of the Senate, Joseph Biden, regarding the executive order. In the letter, Obama restated the declaration of a national emergency:
I have exercised my authority to declare a national emergency to deal with the threat posed to the United States by the risk of nuclear proliferation created by the accumulation in the Russian Federation of a large volume of weapons-usable fissile material.
According to U. S. Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman, “We are talking about the situation in which a matter of kilograms of this material is highly dangerous and could be used for terrorist purposes, and which we have repatriated many multiples of that quantity.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Russia and the U.S. signed a statement which confirms the intentions of Russia to begin converting its own research reactors from highly enriched to low enriched.