June 26, 2012
On Monday, Obama sent a letter to the Speaker of the House declaring 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 a post on the White House website.
Obama cites Executive Order 13159 of June 21, 2000, in the letter. The Clinton era EO declares “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 constitutes 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 White House initially announced the national emergency on June 18.
Under HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium) agreements, the United States pays the Russian Federation to convert approximately 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium left in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union into low-enriched uranium for use as a fuel in commercial nuclear reactors.
From 1995 through September 2010, 400 metric tons of highly-enriched uranium from Russian nuclear warheads was recycled into low-enriched-uranium fuel for nuclear power plants in the United States.
The HEU agreement is set to expire in June of 2013.
Russia has indicated it will not renew the agreement and will instead sell its “downblended” uranium to India and Japan.
On Tuesday, Russia and the U.S. signed a statement confirming Russia’s intention to begin conversion of its own research reactors from highly enriched to low enriched.