U.S. stockpiling uranium, POGO warns

Sept. 14, 2010 at 10:50 AM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- There are more than 300 tons of weapons-grade uranium stored in the United States that are posing a national security risk, a watchdog said.

The Project on Government Oversight, a government watchdog group with headquarters in Washington, said the U.S. government has around 325 tons of bomb-grade uranium in its stockpiles. This, the group said, comes as Washington puts pressure on the international community to reduce its stockpiles.

The group said the U.S. Department of Energy stopped prioritizing a process called downblending, which converts highly enriched uranium into the safer low-enriched uranium

POGO warns that while HEU isn't necessary for defense purposes, terrorist groups could use the material to create an improvised nuclear device "that has the potential for a blast on par with the weapon that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945."

POGO in its 33-page report goes on to state that security of nuclear material in the United States is insufficient, with three distinct government agencies having three distinct security standards.

The group called on Washington to examine uranium surpluses and schedule HEU for dismantling or downblending.

"It is particularly troubling that, as the United States has focused more attention on securing fissile materials globally, it has decreased its own rate of downblending and dismantlement," the report warned.

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