WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration says 111 pounds of highly enriched uranium fuel has been successfully removed from three sites in Ukraine.
The shipments were completed in a joint effort with counterparts in Ukraine as part Ukraine President Yanukovych's commitment at the April 2010 Nuclear Security Summit to remove all of Ukraine's highly enriched uranium by 2012, an NNSA release said Friday.
"The removal of this highly enriched uranium from Ukraine is a major milestone that brings us one step closer to achieving President Obama's goal of securing all nuclear material around the world within four years," NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino said.
Prior to the removal, NNSA completed air shipments of low enriched uranium, which cannot be used to make nuclear weapons, to replace the highly enriched uranium located at facilities in Kiev and Kharkiv as well as the Sevastopol National University of Nuclear Industry and Energy.
The highly enriched uranium was transported by plane in specially designed casks to Russia for secure storage and disposition, the NNSA said.
President Obama congratulated those involved in the removal.
"This action brings us all one step closer to securing all vulnerable nuclear materials, as President Yanukovych and I and 45 other world leaders pledged to do this April at the Nuclear Security Summit," the president said in a statement released by the White House.