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Administration Has Improved the Security of Reactors in its Global 
Research Reactor Program, but Action Is Needed to Address Remaining 
Concerns' which was released on September 17, 2009. 

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Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign 
Affairs, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of 
Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

September 2009: 

Nuclear Nonproliferation: 

National Nuclear Security Administration Has Improved the Security of 
Reactors in its Global Research Reactor Program, but Action Is Needed 
to Address Remaining Concerns: 

GAO-09-949: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-09-949, a report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on 
National Security and Foreign Affairs, Committee on Oversight and 
Government Reform, House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Worldwide, about 165 research reactors use highly enriched uranium 
(HEU) fuel. Because HEU can also be used in nuclear weapons, the 
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) established the Global 
Research Reactor Security (GRRS) program to make security upgrades at 
foreign research reactors whose security did not meet guidelines 
established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). GAO was 
asked to assess (1) the status of NNSA’s efforts to secure foreign 
research reactors, (2) the extent to which selected foreign research 
reactors with NNSA security upgrades meet IAEA’s security guidelines, 
and (3) the extent to which NNSA coordinates the GRRS program with 
other countries and the IAEA. GAO reviewed NNSA and IAEA documents and 
visited five of the 22 research reactors in the GRRS program, which 
were selected on the basis of when upgrades had been completed and 
because the reactors still possess HEU. 

What GAO Found: 

As of August 2009, NNSA reports that it had upgraded the security at 18 
of the 22 foreign research reactors in the GRRS program at a total cost 
of approximately $8 million. NNSA plans to complete physical security 
upgrades at the remaining reactors by 2010 at an additional cost of $6 
million. Security upgrades that GAO observed during its site visits 
include heavily reinforced vaults to store HEU fuel, motion detector 
sensors and security cameras to detect unauthorized access, and 
fortified central alarm stations that allow on-site guards the ability 
to monitor alarms and security cameras and communicate with response 
forces. 

Foreign research reactors that have received NNSA upgrades where GAO 
conducted site visits generally meet IAEA security guidelines; however, 
in some cases, critical security weaknesses remain. At four of the five 
reactors visited, GAO identified security conditions that did not meet 
IAEA guidelines. For example, (1) at two reactors, no emergency 
response exercises had been conducted between the on-site guard force 
and off-site emergency response force, and one of these reactors lacked 
any formal response plans for emergencies involving attempts to steal 
HEU fuel; and (2) personnel at one research reactor did not search 
visitors or their belongings before granting them access to restricted 
areas where nuclear material is present. Furthermore, the government 
agency charged with regulating the operation of one research reactor 
has neither developed safety and security regulations nor has the 
country enacted laws ensuring the safe and secure operation of nuclear 
facilities. NNSA and Sandia National Laboratories officials responsible 
for making security upgrades at these reactors acknowledged that these 
continued vulnerabilities potentially compromise security at these 
reactors. Although the officials stressed the importance of NNSA 
continuing to work with these countries, there are no specific plans to 
do so after security upgrades at the remaining reactors are completed 
in 2010. 

NNSA officials coordinate with foreign government research reactor 
operators to design, install, and sustain security upgrades. Because 
the GRRS program is a voluntary and cooperative program, in some cases, 
NNSA faces challenges obtaining foreign governments’ commitment to 
complete security upgrades in a timely manner. For example, progress to 
secure a research reactor in one country GAO visited has been delayed 
by as many as 4 years due to foreign government reluctance in accepting 
NNSA assistance and delays approving the designed security upgrades. 
Recently, NNSA has begun working with IAEA’s Office of Nuclear Security 
to establish a sustainability program to help ensure the continued 
effectiveness of NNSA-funded security upgrades and to help research 
reactor operators implement security procedures. IAEA plans to conduct 
pilot programs at three research reactors in 2009 and then expand the 
program. NNSA will continue to support sustainability efforts through 
the IAEA after the completion of security upgrades at the remaining 
reactors in 2010. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO is making recommendations to help NNSA improve security procedures 
and encourage the development of national security laws and regulations 
in countries with HEU-fueled research reactors. 

In commenting on this report, NNSA agreed with the findings and 
outlined the actions that it plans to take to address the report’s 
recommendations. 

View [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-949] or key 
components. For more information, contact Gene Aloise at (202) 512-3841 
or aloisee@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Scope and Methodology: 

Background: 

NNSA Has Improved the Security of Research Reactors and Plans to 
Continue Upgrading the Security of Additional Reactors: 

Although Reactors We Visited Generally Met IAEA Guidelines, Some 
Security Weaknesses Remain That Could Undermine NNSA-Funded Upgrades: 

NNSA Coordinates Security Upgrades with Other Countries and IAEA, but 
Additional Cooperation is Needed to Implement Security Procedures 
Provided for in IAEA Guidelines: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Comments from the National Nuclear Security Administration: 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Table: 

Table 1: Foreign Research Reactors in the GRRS Program: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: Interior of a Soviet-Built HEU Research Reactor: 

Figure 2: Newly Built Fortified Central Alarm Station at a HEU Research 
Reactor: 

Figure 3: Upgraded Alarm Display and Closed Circuit Television Monitors 
Inside a Central Alarm Station at a HEU Research Reactor: 

Abbreviations: 

DBT: Design Basis Threat: 

DOE: Department of Energy: 

GRRS: Global Research Reactor Security: 

GTRI: Global Threat Reduction Initiative: 

HEU: highly enriched uranium: 

IAEA: International Atomic Energy Agency: 

LEU: low enriched uranium: 

NNSA: National Nuclear Security Administration: 

NRC: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: 

[End of section] 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

September 17, 2009: 

The Honorable John F. Tierney:
Chairman:
Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs: 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: 
House of Representatives: 

Dear Mr. Chairman: 

Nuclear research reactors are used for research, training, and 
development in many scientific fields, including nuclear engineering, 
physics, and medicine. According to the National Nuclear Security 
Administration (NNSA), a separately organized agency within the 
Department of Energy (DOE),[Footnote 1] there are about 165 operating 
research reactors worldwide that use highly enriched uranium (HEU) as 
fuel.[Footnote 2] Concerns exist that terrorists may target research 
reactors to steal HEU fuel for use in a nuclear bomb. As little as 25 
kilograms of HEU are needed to construct a nuclear bomb. According to 
the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on the Terrorist Threat to U.S. 
Homeland Security, al-Qaeda continues to seek materials for nuclear and 
radiological weapons and would not hesitate to use them. Furthermore, 
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which provides 
guidelines for the safety and physical security of civilian nuclear 
reactors including research reactors, has determined that the threat of 
nuclear terrorism remains undiminished and has concluded that the 
consequences of a malicious act involving a nuclear explosive device 
would be catastrophic.[Footnote 3] In a January 2009 strategic plan for 
reducing nuclear and radiological threats worldwide, NNSA stated that 
President Obama has identified preventing terrorists from acquiring 
nuclear or radiological weapons as the number one national security 
priority of his administration.[Footnote 4] 

Starting in 1953, through the Atoms for Peace program, the United 
States supplied research reactors and the fuel needed to operate them 
to many countries around the world. Similarly, the Soviet Union also 
assisted several nations in building research reactors and also 
supplied them with fuel. Nuclear technology was provided to these 
foreign counties in exchange for a commitment not to develop nuclear 
weapons. Initially, the research reactors supplied by the Atoms for 
Peace program used low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, which cannot be 
used in a nuclear bomb, but many reactors were gradually switched from 
LEU to HEU fuel. At the time many of these reactors were built, or 
subsequently converted to use HEU, LEU fuels were not capable of 
producing many of the desired conditions in research reactors. HEU fuel 
lasted longer and was less expensive over time than LEU fuel because 
the reactors did not need to be refueled as often. Because of concerns 
about the threats posed by the potential theft or diversion of HEU for 
use in a nuclear bomb, new, more effective LEU fuels have been and are 
being developed, which would allow research reactors to convert from 
HEU to LEU fuel. 

The purpose of DOE's Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) is to 
protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological material at civilian sites 
worldwide, including research reactors. Administered by NNSA, GTRI has 
three goals: (1) to convert research reactors and isotope production 
facilities from using HEU to using LEU, (2) to remove and dispose of 
excess nuclear and radiological materials, and (3) to protect high- 
priority nuclear and radiological materials from theft and sabotage. We 
reported on DOE's progress in achieving the first two goals in 2004. 
[Footnote 5] 

NNSA seeks to achieve GTRI's third goal at research reactors worldwide 
through its Global Research Reactor Security (GRRS) program, which is a 
voluntary and cooperative program that depends on countries accepting 
NNSA assistance to make security improvements. The GRRS program 
assesses security, designs security systems, and provides funding for 
security upgrades in order to protect vulnerable nuclear material at 
research reactors. These upgrades are needed to secure HEU fuel until 
permanent threat reduction solutions can be achieved, such as 
converting the reactors to LEU fuel and removing the HEU fuel. 

Each nation that possesses a research reactor is responsible for the 
security of its own research reactors. Since 1972, IAEA has provided 
its member states with guidelines for the physical protection of 
nuclear material, most recently in 1999.[Footnote 6] These guidelines 
contain administrative and technical measures designed to prevent the 
sabotage of nuclear facilities and the theft or other unauthorized 
diversions of nuclear material. According to IAEA's guidelines, a 
comprehensive physical protection system to secure nuclear material 
should include, among other things, 

* technical measures such as vaults, perimeter barriers, intrusion 
sensors, and alarms; 

* material control procedures; and: 

* adequately equipped and appropriately trained guard and emergency 
response forces. 

According to IAEA's guidelines, member states should ensure that their 
national laws ensure the proper implementation of physical protection 
and verify continued compliance with physical protection regulations. 

Although these IAEA guidelines are not binding on IAEA member states, 
the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reviews applications for 
the export of nuclear material, including HEU fuel to foreign research 
reactors, to ensure that the recipient country's physical security 
measures are at least comparable to IAEA guidelines for the physical 
protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities. In addition, 
NNSA has adopted the IAEA guidelines as a tool to help it determine 
what security upgrades are necessary at research reactors in the GRRS 
program. Using IAEA's guidelines, NNSA has developed a GTRI Design 
Basis Threat (DBT)--an analysis of the number of adversaries that 
security forces may face and how the adversaries may be equipped--that 
the GRRS program uses to develop security upgrades at research 
reactors. Security upgrades are designed to assist guard forces at 
research reactors to implement an "alert and notify" strategy, which 
relies on off-site response forces to supplement on-site forces to 
contain, locate, and neutralize adversaries before they can 
successfully sabotage the reactor or steal nuclear material. The alert 
and notify strategy is not as stringent as the costly "denial" 
strategy, which is used primarily in settings where nuclear weapons or 
significant nuclear components are present. With a denial strategy, the 
security system and on-site guard forces must detect, delay, respond 
to, and defeat adversaries before they gain access to nuclear weapons 
or components. 

In January 2008, we reported on the security of research reactors in 
the United States that are regulated by NRC.[Footnote 7] In response to 
your request, this report focuses on NNSA's efforts to improve security 
of research reactors worldwide. Specifically, we examined (1) the 
status of NNSA's efforts to secure foreign research reactors, (2) the 
extent to which selected research reactors with NNSA security upgrades 
meet IAEA's security guidelines, and (3) the extent to which NNSA 
coordinates its GRRS program with other countries and the IAEA. 

Scope and Methodology: 

To address our objectives, we reviewed relevant NNSA and IAEA policy, 
guidelines, and planning documents. For NNSA, we examined its 
Protection and Sustainability Criteria Document, which describes the 
DBT--the baseline threat for which security measures should be 
developed at research reactors in the GRRS program. In addition, we 
reviewed NNSA's strategic plans for the GRRS program and work schedules 
for conducting and completing security work activities. We also met 
with NNSA officials responsible for implementing the GRRS program and 
with Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) technical experts who 
provide assistance to NNSA in implementing the program. We also met 
with IAEA officials from IAEA's Office of Nuclear Security, Division of 
Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology, and IAEA's Department of 
Safeguards. 

We reviewed security upgrades at a nonprobability sample of five 
research reactors in five different countries--Czech Republic, Hungary, 
Mexico, Romania, and Serbia. This sample cannot be used to generalize 
findings from these countries to all countries in the program. We 
selected these reactors based upon whether the reactors still use or 
store HEU fuel and when NNSA had completed physical protection 
upgrades. Four of the five reactors had already received security 
upgrades, while work was ongoing at the fifth reactor. In the course of 
our work, we visited each of these five reactors to tour the facilities 
and inspect security upgrades that had been made or were in process. 
During our visits, we interviewed officials managing the reactors, on- 
site security officials, police, and other law enforcement officials 
responsible for responding to security incidents, as well as government 
officials responsible for regulating security at these reactors. At 
each of these reactors, we conducted interviews with a standard set of 
questions concerning the physical protection of the facility, the 
security upgrades that were being made, and the extent of the 
facility's coordination with NNSA and IAEA. We also compared the 
security systems at the facilities with IAEA guidelines--particularly 
INFCIRC 225, Rev. 4, Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and 
Nuclear Facilities. We also reviewed NNSA documents about each reactor, 
including reactor visit reports and vulnerability assessments. 

We conducted this performance audit from August 2008 to September 2009 
in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that 
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

Background: 

Research reactors are generally smaller than nuclear power reactors, 
ranging in size from less than 1 megawatt to as high as 250 megawatts, 
compared with the 3,000 megawatts found for a typical commercial 
nuclear power reactor. In addition, unlike power reactors, many 
research reactors use HEU fuel instead of LEU. Although some research 
reactors have shut down or converted to LEU fuel and returned their HEU 
fuel to the United States or Russia, about 165 research reactors 
throughout the world continue to use HEU. NNSA efforts to convert 
reactors from HEU to LEU fuel use and return HEU fuel to the United 
States and Russia has led to the conversion of 57 reactors, the 
shutdown of 7 reactors, the return of HEU from 59 reactors, and the 
elimination of all HEU from 46 reactor facilities. NNSA plans to 
continue converting reactors and returning HEU fuel to its country of 
origin. However, because it will take several years to convert reactors 
to LEU fuel use and return the HEU fuel, in the interim security needs 
to be ensured at these reactors. Figure 1 shows the interior of a 
research reactor in an Eastern European country that still uses Russian 
supplied HEU. 

Figure 1: Interior of a Soviet-Built HEU Research Reactor: 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source: Reactor Operator. 

[End of figure] 

As NNSA and its predecessor agencies recognized the threat posed by the 
theft or diversion of nuclear materials--including HEU research reactor 
fuel--for nuclear weapons' purposes, it initiated a number of efforts 
to address this threat. First, since 1974, DOE has supported a program 
to determine whether nuclear material provided by the United States to 
other countries for peaceful purposes is adequately protected. Managed 
by NNSA's Division of Nonproliferation and International Security, this 
program prioritizes and selects facilities for physical protection 
assessment visits, leads such visits to determine if the facility meets 
IAEA guidelines for security, and, in the cases where the visited 
facility does not meet IAEA guidelines, makes recommendations to 
improve security. However, unlike the GRRS program, NNSA's Office of 
Nonproliferation and International Security does not fund or install 
security upgrades at research reactors overseas. Second, after the 
collapse of the Soviet Union, DOE established the Material Protection, 
Control, and Accounting program in 1995 to install improved security 
systems for nuclear material at civilian nuclear sites (including 
research reactors), naval fuel sites, and nuclear weapons laboratory 
sites in Russia and nations in the former Soviet Union. Third, prior to 
the establishment of NNSA, DOE established the GRRS program in 1993 to 
improve the security of research reactors that are in countries that 
NNSA considers in need of assistance, as well as research reactors in 
countries that are not included in other DOE/NNSA programs. As shown in 
Table 1, the GRRS program has identified 22 research reactors in 16 
different countries in need of assistance that are not included in 
other DOE/NNSA programs. Originally managed by NNSA's Office of 
Nonproliferation and International Security, the GRRS program was 
transferred to the GTRI in 2005. The GRRS program is also beginning to 
provide security enhancements at research reactors located at 
universities in the United States, as requested by the Department of 
Homeland Security and the NRC. NNSA officials told us that they believe 
the decision to assist in upgrading the security of these reactors was 
based partly on our January 2008 report, which found potential security 
weaknesses at domestic research reactors regulated by NRC.[Footnote 8] 

Table 1: Foreign Research Reactors in the GRRS Program: 

Country: Chile; 
Reactor: RECH-1, La Reina; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Chile; 
Reactor: RECH-2, Lo Aquirre; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Czech Republic; 
Reactor: LVR-15, NRIRez; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Greece; 
Reactor: GRR-1, Demokritos; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Hungary; 
Reactor: BRR; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Indonesia; 
Reactor: RSG-GAS, Serpong; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Indonesia; 
Reactor: TRIGA II, Bandung; 
Fuel material: LEU. 

Country: Indonesia; 
Reactor: Kartini P3TM, Yogyakarta; 
Fuel material: LEU. 

Country: Jamaica; 
Reactor: Slowpoke UWI CNS; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Libya; 
Reactor: IRT-1 and IRT-1 CA, Tajoura; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Mexico; 
Reactor: TRIGA MK-III (ININ), Salazar; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Peru; 
Reactor: RP-0; 
Fuel material: LEU. 

Country: Peru; 
Reactor: RP-10l; 
Fuel material: LEU. 

Country: Poland; 
Reactor: Maria, Swierk; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Poland; 
Reactor: ZUOP (Eva spent fuel), Swierk; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Portugal; 
Reactor: RPI; Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Romania; 
Reactor: TRIGA II, Pitesti; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Romania; 
Reactor: VVR-s, Magurele; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Serbia; 
Reactor: Vinca; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: South Africa; 
Reactor: SAFARI-1, Pelindaba; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Turkey; 
Reactor: TR-2 Cekmece; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Country: Vietnam; 
Reactor: TRIGA Mark II, Dalat; 
Fuel material: HEU. 

Source: NNSA. 

Notes: 

(1) Two reactors in Indonesia and two reactors in Peru that use LEU 
fuel--which cannot be used to make a nuclear bomb but are potential 
targets of sabotage to release radioactivity into the area surrounding 
a reactor--have received security upgrades because of high levels of 
terrorist activities in regions where the reactors are located or 
because of their proximity to U.S. installations. 

(2) Subsequent to the installation of security upgrades by the GRRS 
program, NNSA has converted and removed all HEU from 4 reactors--GRR-1 
in Greece, RPI in Portugal, Pitesti in Romania, and Magurele in 
Romania. 

[End of table] 

NNSA Has Improved the Security of Research Reactors and Plans to 
Continue Upgrading the Security of Additional Reactors: 

As of August 2009, NNSA reports that it had upgraded the security at 18 
of the 22 foreign research reactors in the GRRS program at a total cost 
of approximately $8 million. NNSA plans to complete upgrades or remove 
all HEU prior to making upgrades at the remaining 4 reactors and to 
make further upgrades at some reactors where initial upgrades have 
already been made, spending an additional $6 million before ending 
physical security upgrades in 2010. For example, at one research 
reactor we visited, NNSA has already spent $760,000 on security 
upgrades and plans to spend $650,000 to pay for additional security 
upgrades, which will enable the facility to meet IAEA guidelines for 
security. NNSA also plans to spend an additional $378,000 for 
maintenance and sustainability of the security system at this facility 
over the next several years. NNSA is planning to complete all physical 
protection upgrades at GRRS reactors by the end of 2010. 

NNSA prioritizes its schedule for upgrading the security of research 
reactors depending on the amount and type of nuclear or radioactive 
material at the reactor and other threat factors, such as the 
vulnerability condition of sites, country-level threat, and proximity 
to strategic assets. To make security upgrades, NNSA works with Sandia 
security experts to assess security needs at reactor facilities, design 
security upgrades and systems, assists foreign reactor operators in 
making improvements, and review security upgrades once they have been 
made. With NNSA approval, Sandia works with local firms specializing in 
installing security systems to make security upgrades. Security 
upgrades we observed during our visits to reactors in the GRRS program 
included, among other things, 

* construction of new, heavily reinforced vaults to store HEU fuel; 

* installation of motion detector sensors and security cameras to 
detect unauthorized entry into reactor buildings and provide the 
ability to remotely monitor activities in those buildings; 

* replacement of glass entry doors with hardened steel doors equipped 
with magnetic locks and controlled by card readers or keypads; and: 

* upgrades or construction of new fortified central alarm stations that 
allow on-site guards to monitor alarms and security cameras, and 
communicate with response forces.[Footnote 9] 

Figure 2 shows a newly built fortified central alarm station at a HEU 
research reactor. Figure 3 shows the upgraded alarm display and closed 
circuit television monitors inside a central alarm station at another 
HEU reactor. 

Figure 2: Newly Built Fortified Central Alarm Station at a HEU Research 
Reactor: 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source: NNSA. 

[End of figure] 

Figure 3: Upgraded Alarm Display and Closed Circuit Television Monitors 
Inside a Central Alarm Station at a HEU Research Reactor: 

[Refer to PDF for image: photograph] 

Source: NNSA. 

[End of figure] 

In addition, NNSA works with officials in countries included in the 
GRRS program to develop emergency plans and training exercises with on- 
site guard forces as well as local, regional, and national law 
enforcement agencies. For example, at one facility we visited, NNSA 
officials had worked with the reactor managers to develop emergency 
plans, and the managers routinely test these plans with different 
elements of the national emergency responders including the facility 
guard force, local police, regional police, and the national-level law 
enforcement including special assault teams. IAEA guidelines state that 
coordination between facility guards and off-site response forces 
should be regularly exercised. In addition, NNSA's alert and notify 
strategy relies on off-site response forces to supplement the on-site 
guard force to contain, locate, and neutralize adversaries before they 
can successfully steal nuclear material or sabotage the reactor. 

The focus of NNSA's program has been on protecting reactors that use or 
store HEU fuel that could potentially be used in an improvised nuclear 
device where security does not meet IAEA guidelines. In addition, some 
research reactors using LEU fuel--which cannot be used to make a 
nuclear bomb but are potential targets of sabotage to release 
radioactivity into the area surrounding a reactor--have received 
security upgrades because of high levels of terrorist activities in 
regions where the reactors are located or because of their proximity to 
U.S. installations. 

Although Reactors We Visited Generally Met IAEA Guidelines, Some 
Security Weaknesses Remain That Could Undermine NNSA-Funded Upgrades: 

The foreign research reactors we visited that have received NNSA 
assistance generally met IAEA physical protection guidelines; however, 
in some cases, critical security weaknesses remained. The focus of the 
GRRS program is to make physical security upgrades in accordance with 
IAEA guidelines. For example, IAEA guidelines recommend that nuclear 
facilities possessing the highest-risk nuclear materials have intrusion 
detection equipment and that all intrusion sensors and alarms should be 
monitored in a central alarm station that is staffed continuously to 
initiate appropriate responses to alarms. At all four of the research 
reactors we visited where NNSA upgrades have been completed, NNSA 
installed intrusion detection sensors on all entrances and infrared 
motion detectors in areas where nuclear material is stored to detect 
unauthorized access. In addition, at these reactors NNSA provided 
assistance to construct fortified central alarm stations that are 
staffed continuously by on-site security personnel to monitor alarms 
triggered by these sensors. NNSA is in the process of providing these 
same upgrades at the fifth reactor we visited. Despite these upgrades, 
the GRRS program has not focused on whether security planning, 
procedures, and regulations meet IAEA guidelines at international 
research reactors. In contrast, in the United States, the GRRS program 
has assisted research reactors to ensure that security planning, 
procedures, and regulations meet IAEA guidelines. For example, to meet 
IAEA's guidelines that emergency plans be regularly exercised, the 
program has provided emergency first responders with training and 
conducted table top exercises simulating emergency conditions. At four 
of the five reactors that we visited, we identified the following 
potential vulnerabilities that can undermine NNSA-funded upgrades. 
Specifically, 

* IAEA security guidelines state that coordination between on-site 
guards and off-site response forces should be regularly exercised. At 
two reactors, however, no emergency response exercises had been 
conducted between the on-site guard force and off-site response forces, 
such as the national police, potentially limiting the effectiveness of 
these forces in an actual emergency. In addition, one of these reactors 
lacked any formal plans for emergencies involving attempts to steal HEU 
fuel or to sabotage reactors. 

* IAEA security guidelines state that all persons entering or leaving 
reactor inner areas should be subject to a search to prevent the 
unauthorized removal of nuclear material. However, personnel at one 
research reactor we visited did not search visitors or their belongings 
before granting them access to restricted areas where nuclear material 
is present, thereby potentially compromising the security upgrades made 
through NNSA assistance. 

* IAEA security guidelines also state that all vehicles entering or 
leaving the protected areas should be subject to search. However, at 
another reactor that we visited personnel did not search vehicles that 
were allowed onto the site or vehicles exiting the site for potentially 
stolen nuclear material or other contraband. 

* IAEA security guidelines state that the ceilings, walls, and floors 
of areas containing vulnerable nuclear material should be constructed 
to delay potential adversaries from accessing the material. However, at 
one facility, we discovered that protective covers over storage pools 
that contain HEU were not being used. These covers, which typically 
weigh hundreds of kilograms and must be moved using a crane, provide 
important protection for stored HEU by significantly increasing the 
time required for a potential adversary to access nuclear material. 
Although NNSA officials told us that these covers are not part of the 
security system, the covers would delay potential adversaries from 
accessing the HEU stored in the pool. Furthermore, the four entrance 
doors to another research reactor--which still had HEU fuel at the time 
that we visited, but has subsequently returned its HEU fuel--were not 
upgraded and provided only limited access delay. These doors were made 
of wood that is only approximately 1 inch thick. In addition, the locks 
on these doors are not designed to prevent a determined attempt to 
access the research reactor facility. Officials at this facility told 
us that they had requested NNSA funding to replace the doors with 
hardened steel doors. However, NNSA did not agree to pay for hardened 
steel doors because it decided that the HEU fuel was sufficiently 
secured in a storage pool with heavy concrete covers. 

* NNSA program guidance states that establishing and maintaining a 
reliable nuclear material inventory and tracking system are important 
elements for ensuring adequate security for these materials. However, 
at one reactor we learned that the operators of the reactor did not 
have an effective system of nuclear material control and accounting for 
the HEU fuel. For example, the operators of this reactor neither 
performed routine inventory checks on HEU fuel, nor had an exact 
accounting of the spent HEU fuel stored at the facility. In this case, 
NNSA officials told us that a lack of effective nuclear material 
accounting at this facility is due to the poor condition of the reactor 
fuel storage pool, which is contaminated with cesium that has leaked 
from fuel. These officials told us that an inventory will be conducted 
as HEU fuel is prepared for shipment back to its country of origin. 

* IAEA security guidelines state that unescorted access to protected 
areas should be limited to those persons whose trustworthiness has been 
determined. However, at another reactor we visited, background checks 
were not conducted on personnel with access to areas where nuclear 
materials are present. 

* At the same reactor, according to foreign government officials, the 
government agency charged with regulating the operation of the research 
reactor had neither developed safety and security regulations, nor had 
the country enacted laws ensuring the safe and secure operation of 
nuclear facilities--including licensing, inspections, and emergency 
exercise procedures--as called for by IAEA guidelines. 

NNSA and Sandia officials responsible for making security upgrades at 
these reactors acknowledged that, even with NNSA-funded upgrades, these 
continued vulnerabilities potentially compromise security. These 
officials stressed the importance of NNSA continuing to work with these 
countries to ensure that research reactors have effective and 
comprehensive physical protection systems and procedures consistent 
with IAEA guidelines. Furthermore, they expressed the need to 
eventually convert these reactors to LEU and return the HEU fuel to its 
country of origin, as well as to develop national laws and regulations 
to ensure the safe and secure operation of nuclear facilities. In 
addition, Sandia officials commented that there is no substitute for 
NNSA and Sandia visits to reactors that have received physical security 
upgrades to determine whether the upgrades have been installed, 
function as designed, and are properly maintained. However, these 
visits generally have not been used to assist the facilities in 
developing security policy and procedures that comply with IAEA 
security guidelines, and there are no specific plans to continue these 
visits after security upgrades at the remaining reactors are completed 
in 2010. 

NNSA Coordinates Security Upgrades with Other Countries and IAEA, but 
Additional Cooperation is Needed to Implement Security Procedures 
Provided for in IAEA Guidelines: 

NNSA coordinates with research reactor operators to design, install, 
and sustain security upgrades. However, because the GRRS program is 
voluntary, NNSA faces challenges in obtaining consistent and timely 
cooperation from other countries to address remaining security 
weaknesses. With regard to IAEA, NNSA coordinates with the agency to 
identify research reactors that are in need of security upgrades and 
assistance. In addition, NNSA and IAEA have begun coordinating on a 
sustainability project to help ensure that research reactor operators 
adequately maintain NNSA funded upgrades by assisting in the 
development of equipment testing and maintenance procedures and the 
development of emergency response plans. 

NNSA Coordinates with Other Countries to Implement Upgrades but Faces 
Challenges in Addressing Security Weaknesses at Some Research Reactors: 

NNSA officials and the physical security experts at Sandia coordinate 
with foreign government research reactor operators to design, install, 
and sustain physical security upgrades. To design security systems, 
NNSA and Sandia officials assess a research reactor's current security 
condition to identify security weaknesses and verify the amount, type, 
and location of nuclear material at the facility. The officials then 
work with foreign research reactor operators to design upgrades and use 
either the DBT established by the foreign government or a DBT developed 
by NNSA if the country has not developed its own DBT for nuclear 
facilities. Security upgrades are generally focused on the electronic 
elements of the security system used to detect unauthorized access and 
alert response forces, as well as access delay features such as 
hardened steel doors and storage vaults, instead of on the development 
of security policies and procedures provided for in IAEA guidelines. 

Sandia officials also work with foreign government research reactor 
operators by overseeing the installation of security upgrades. In 
general, Sandia works with a security company that is then responsible 
for procuring and installing the designed security upgrades. To help 
ensure that the security upgrades are being installed properly, Sandia 
requires the security company and the foreign research reactor 
operators to periodically submit status reports and equipment lists for 
Sandia's review. In some instances, countries will share the cost of 
installing the upgrades with NNSA. For example, the government of the 
Czech Republic provided $800,000 to upgrade the security at one of its 
research reactors. Once the security contractor completes the 
installation, NNSA and Sandia officials and foreign government research 
reactor operators inspect the upgrades and determine if they were 
installed and are functioning as designed. 

To help ensure that the upgrades are sustained, NNSA and Sandia 
officials periodically visit research reactors to review the condition 
of upgrades and to determine if supplemental upgrades are needed. 
According to NNSA and Sandia officials, these visits are crucial to 
maintaining a collaborative relationship with foreign research reactor 
operators to help ensure that security upgrades are sustained over the 
long term. As a result of recent security assessment visits, NNSA 
officials said that they are planning additional upgrades at three 
reactors we visited where security upgrades had already been completed. 
These additional upgrades are to include, among other things, new 
closed circuit television cameras, a device used to provide emergency 
electrical power, and replacement door locks; they do not include 
assistance in developing security policies and procedures provided for 
in IAEA guidelines. NNSA officials determined that supplemental 
upgrades at the fourth reactor were not needed because they planned to 
return the reactor's HEU to Russia in the summer of 2009, which was 7 
months after the assessment was made.[Footnote 10] 

NNSA has also been purchasing warranty and maintenance contracts for 
recently installed upgrades and for certain reactors where upgrades are 
several years old and foreign government research reactor operators 
lack sufficient funding for maintenance activities. NNSA requires the 
countries or reactor operators who receive these warranty and 
maintenance contracts to provide written assurance that they will 
continue to sustain the upgrades at their own expense after the 
contract expires, although NNSA will consider providing additional 
coverage on a case-by-case basis. In addition, NNSA is working with 
IAEA and governments in each of the countries that received security 
upgrades at research reactors to develop a long-term sustainability 
plan for security systems. 

Because the GRRS program is voluntary and cooperative, NNSA officials 
told us that in some cases they face challenges in obtaining foreign 
governments' commitment to complete security upgrades in a timely 
manner. For example, progress to secure a research reactor in one 
country we visited has been delayed by as many as 4 years for two 
reasons. First, the country was initially reluctant to accept NNSA 
assistance and took 2 years to decide whether to accept funding for 
security improvements. Second, security upgrades were further delayed 
at this reactor because of the country's delay in approving the design 
of the security upgrades and authorizing contractors to work at the 
reactor site. As a result, a number of security weaknesses at this 
facility have not yet been addressed--some of which NNSA identified as 
early as 2002. According to NNSA officials, the agency has been working 
with the Department of State to overcome these obstacles. 

NNSA officials also told us that they have experienced situations where 
a foreign government has refused its assistance to make security 
upgrades. Specifically, one country has refused NNSA's multiple offers 
to upgrade a research reactor facility during the past 9 years. NNSA 
officials said that they have continued to offer this assistance 
through both direct bilateral negotiations and through IAEA. However, 
this foreign government has yet to accept NNSA assistance, and NNSA has 
concerns that known security weaknesses have not been addressed. In 
addition, NNSA has experienced two situations where the foreign 
government would not accept security upgrade assistance until 
agreements were reached with the United States on other issues related 
to nuclear energy and security. For example, NNSA assistance at one 
research reactor was delayed until the United States ratified an 
agreement with the foreign government authorizing and setting the 
conditions for transfers of U.S. civil nuclear technology and material 
to that government.[Footnote 11] These issues have been resolved with 
both foreign governments. Due to the terrorist threat level in the 
areas where these reactors are located, NNSA has decided to forgo 
making security upgrades because it would take too long to design and 
install new security systems. Instead, NNSA is planning to remove the 
HEU fuel that is at these two reactors and return it to its country of 
origin this year. 

NNSA Coordinates with the IAEA to Identify Research Reactors for the 
GRRS Program, and Further Cooperation Is Needed to Sustain Upgrades and 
Implement Security Procedures Provided for in IAEA Guidelines: 

NNSA coordinates with the IAEA to identify research reactors in need of 
security upgrades that could be included in the GRRS program. Fourteen 
of the 19 research reactors that received NNSA-funded security upgrades 
were previously reviewed by an IAEA team, which recommended security 
improvements. According to IAEA officials, if a nation is unable to 
make the recommended security improvements itself, IAEA will recommend 
that it seek assistance from the GRRS program. In addition, NNSA works 
with IAEA to ensure security upgrades are complementary when both 
organizations are providing assistance at the same research reactor. 
For example, at one reactor we visited, NNSA upgraded the reactor's 
central alarm station and installed new intrusion sensors and cameras. 
At the same facility, IAEA is planning to install an X-ray machine and 
metal detector at the reactor's entrance to monitor personnel and 
packages entering and leaving the facility. In addition, NNSA officials 
implementing efforts to secure research reactors interact regularly 
with IAEA officials by holding quarterly coordination meetings. 
Furthermore, NNSA makes an annual financial pledge of between $1.6 and 
$1.9 million to IAEA's Nuclear Security Fund, which supports IAEA's 
Office of Nuclear Security activities, such as security reviews of 
international research reactors and other nuclear facilities. 

Further cooperation is needed to sustain NNSA-funded upgrades and 
implement security procedures provided for in IAEA guidelines. While 
NNSA is planning to complete all physical protection upgrades at GRRS 
reactors by the end of 2010, GRRS officials are still concerned about 
the continued effectiveness of upgrades and any shortcomings related to 
security procedures and planning. Consequently, NNSA has recently begun 
working with IAEA's Office of Nuclear Security to establish a 
sustainability program. The purpose of the sustainability program is to 
help ensure that NNSA-funded security upgrades are properly maintained 
and to help research reactor operators implement security procedures 
and planning. To date, NNSA has provided IAEA with $550,000 and paid 
for a security expert from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to 
administer the sustainability program. Under the sustainability 
program, IAEA will help research reactor operators develop: 

* capabilities for properly maintaining and testing installed security 
equipment, which will help ensure the future effectiveness of NNSA- 
funded upgrades; 

* capabilities to ensure that security procedures are designed, 
implemented, and followed by research reactor management and personnel; 
and: 

* emergency response plans and agreements and procedures with a robust 
dedicated off-site response force for assistance in responding to 
emergency situations at the research reactor. 

In addition, the sustainability program is expected to help foreign 
governments strengthen their nuclear security laws and regulations, as 
well as the nuclear security inspection process and procedures. For 
example, IAEA plans to work with a country to ensure it has an 
appropriate nuclear regulatory agency with the legal basis, as well as 
inspection and enforcement capabilities, to establish and oversee 
security requirements at nuclear facilities. IAEA plans to conduct 
pilot projects of the sustainability program at three research reactors 
in 2009, evaluate the results of the pilot projects, and then 
potentially expand the program in 2010 to all reactors in the GRRS 
program that still possess HEU. NNSA will continue to support 
sustainability efforts through the IAEA after the completion of 
security upgrades at the remaining reactors in 2010. 

Conclusions: 

Nuclear research reactors throughout the world continue to play an 
important role in research, education, science, and medicine. However, 
as long as some of these reactors continue to use HEU fuel or have HEU 
fuel stored on-site, they must be adequately protected from terrorists 
targeting them to steal the material or sabotage the reactors. NNSA's 
efforts to secure research reactors in the GRRS program have resulted 
in physical security upgrades such as heavily-reinforced vaults to 
store HEU fuel and new or improved alarms and intrusion detection 
sensors. However, security weaknesses remain at some research reactors 
in the GRRS program, many of which are the result of weaknesses in 
security procedures and emergency planning. NNSA's efforts have, to 
date, generally not included encouraging the development of effective 
security procedures or the development of laws and regulations ensuring 
the safe and secure operation of nuclear facilities. 

NNSA has taken the first steps toward addressing these security 
deficiencies and is starting to work with IAEA to implement a 
comprehensive sustainability program to ensure that new security 
upgrades installed at these reactors undergo periodic maintenance and 
repair. These efforts must continue, even after NNSA completes 
installing physical security upgrades at the remaining reactors and 
ends the GRRS program in 2010. Because NNSA is working with foreign 
countries, it is also important that NNSA work cooperatively with these 
countries' governments and IAEA to develop rigorous policies and 
procedures governing security at these sites. Ultimately, the most 
effective security improvement that can be made at these research 
reactors is to convert them to use LEU and to return all HEU fuel to 
the material's country of origin, thereby eliminating the reactors' 
attractiveness to terrorists seeking material to make an improvised 
nuclear device. We support the effort that NNSA is now taking to 
accelerate the schedule to convert reactors to LEU fuel use and return 
HEU fuel to its country of origin. The timely removal of this material 
from at-risk reactors will be, in the end, the most effective security 
improvement NNSA can make. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To resolve remaining security weaknesses at foreign research reactors 
that use HEU fuel, we recommend that the Secretary of Energy direct the 
Administrator of NNSA to take the following three actions: 

* While continuing to emphasize and accelerate NNSA efforts to convert 
reactors to LEU fuel use and return HEU fuel to its country of origin, 
we recommend that NNSA work with foreign government officials and 
research reactor operators in countries where security upgrades are in 
progress or have been completed to (1) take immediate action to address 
any remaining security weaknesses, including those that we identified 
in this report; and (2) ensure that security policies and procedures, 
including those for emergency response to security incidents, fully 
meet IAEA guidelines. 

* In addition, in cooperation with IAEA's Office of Nuclear Safety, we 
recommend that NNSA work with foreign regulatory agencies to encourage 
the development, where needed, of national security laws and 
regulations to ensure the safe and secure operation of research 
reactors, including licensing, inspection, and emergency exercise 
procedures, as called for in IAEA guidelines. 

Agency Comments: 

We provided NNSA with a draft of this report for its review and 
comment. In its written comments, NNSA states that our report is fair 
and properly reflects the progress of the GRRS program to make security 
upgrades at vulnerable, high risk research reactors worldwide. NNSA 
also outlined the actions that it plans to take to address the report's 
recommendations to further improve research reactor security. The 
complete text of NNSA's comments are presented in appendix I. NNSA also 
provided technical clarifications, which we incorporated into the 
report as appropriate. 

To address the report's recommendations, NNSA stated that it plans to 
assist countries in meeting security obligations by 1) ensuring that 
its security policies and procedures, including those for emergency 
response to security incidents, fully meet IAEA guidelines and 2) 
working in cooperation with IAEA's Office of Nuclear Security to 
encourage the development, where needed, of national security laws and 
regulations to ensure the safe and secure operation of research 
reactors: 

We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional 
committees; the Secretary of Energy; the Administrator of NNSA; and the 
Director, Office of Management and Budget. The report will also be 
available at no charge on the GAO Web site at [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-3841 or aloisee@gao.gov. Contact points for our 
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on 
the last page of this report. GAO staff who made major contributions to 
this report are listed in Appendix II. 

Sincerely yours, 

Signed by: 

Gene Aloise: 
Director, Natural Resources and Environment: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Comments from the National Nuclear Security Administration: 

Department of Energy: 
National Nuclear Security Administration: 
Washington, DC 20585: 

September 3, 2009: 

Mr. Gene Aloise: 
Director: 
Natural Resources and Environment: 
Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

Dear Mr. Aloise: 

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) appreciates the 
opportunity to review the Government Accountability Office's (GAO) 
draft report, GAO-09-949, Nuclear Nonproliferation: NNSA Has Improved 
the Security of Research Reactors in its Global Research Reactor 
Security Program, but Further Action is Needed to Address Remaining 
Concerns. We understand that this work was done at the request of the 
Chairman, Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, House of Representatives 
to review the risks to the United States national security of highly 
enriched uranium (HEU) used in research reactors in countries of 
proliferation concerns. 

Overall, NNSA believes the report is fair and properly reflects the 
significant progress the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) has 
made to complete sustainable security upgrades at vulnerable, high risk 
research reactors worldwide. We agree with the conclusion that the most 
effective security improvements that can be made at these research 
reactors is to convert them to the use of low enriched uranium and to 
remove the HEU from the site. 

There are two points in the report that we believe are in need of 
clarification. The first clarification is that improved security is 
achieved either through physical protection upgrades or timely removal 
of HEU from the site. This is reflected in the text from page 10 of the 
report that states "NNSA plans to complete upgrades or remove all HEU 
prior to upgrades at the remaining four reactors and to make further 
upgrades at some reactors where some upgrades have already been made, 
spending an additional $6 million before ending the program in 2010". 
However, the second sentence of the summary states that "NNSA plans to 
complete the program by upgrading the remaining reactors by 2010 at an 
additional cost of $6 million." We suggest the second sentence in the 
summary be revised as follows in order to more accurately reflect the 
state of the program: "NNSA plans to complete upgrades or remove all 
HEU prior to upgrades at the remaining four reactors and to make 
further upgrades at some research reactors where some upgrades have 
already been made, spending an additional $6 million before ending 
physical security upgrades in 2010." 

The second clarification is that the GRRS program will not end in 2010 
due to continued efforts to sustain the upgrades already implemented. 
Thus it is more accurate to state that physical protection upgrades 
will end in 2010 and efforts to sustain these upgrades will continue 
after 2010. On page 21-22 of the GAO report, its states that "...under 
its current plans, NNSA plans to complete upgrades at the remaining 
reactors and end the Global Research Reactors Security (GRRS) program 
in 2010..." This generality is not consistent with GTRI's work plans or 
other statements that GAO makes in the report: 

* "Recently, NNSA has begun working with IAEA's Office of Nuclear 
Security to establish a sustainability program to help ensure the 
continued effectiveness of NNSA-funded security upgrades and to help 
research reactor operators implement security procedures." (summary) 

* "NNSA and IAEA have begun coordinating on a sustainability project to 
help ensure that research reactor operators adequately maintain NNSA 
funded upgrades by assisting in the development of equipment testing 
and maintenance procedures and the development of emergency plans." 
(page 17) 

* "NNSA also plans to spend an additional $378,000 for maintenance and 
sustainability of the security system at this facility over the next 
several years" (page 11) 

* "In addition, NNSA works with officials in countries included in the 
GRRS program to develop emergency plans and training exercises with on-
site guard forces as well as local, regional, and national law 
enforcement agencies" (page 13 and then goes on to give a detailed 
example) 

* "To help ensure that the upgrades are sustained, NNSA and Sandia 
officials periodically visit research reactors to review the condition 
of upgrades and to determine if supplemental upgrades are needed" (page 
18) 

* "NNSA has also been purchasing warranty and maintenance contracts for 
recently installed upgrades and for certain reactors where upgrades are 
several years old and foreign government research reactor operators 
lack sufficient funding for maintenance activities. NNSA requires the 
countries or reactor operators who receive these warranty and 
maintenance contracts to provide written assurances that they will 
continue to sustain the upgrades at their own expense after the 
contract expires, although NNSA will consider providing additional 
coverage on a case-by-case basis. In addition, NNSA is working with the 
IAEA and governments in each of the countries that received security 
upgrades at research reactors to develop a long-term sustainability 
plan for security systems." (page 19) 

This change should also be made in the last sentence of summary page 
since the program does not end in 2010. We suggest the last sentence be 
revised to state the following: "NNSA will continue to support 
sustainability efforts through the IAEA after the completion of 
security upgrades at the remaining reactors in 2010." 

With regards to the recommendation, we recognize that even good 
programs can get better, and we are committed to quickly and 
effectively addressing GAO's recommendations for further improvement. 
We agree with the GAO statement that "Each nation that possesses a 
research reactor is responsible for the security of its own research 
reactors." We plan to assist these countries in meeting their security 
obligations by: 

* Ensuring that their security policies and procedures, including those 
for emergency response to security incidents, fully meet IAEA 
guidelines as GTRI currently is doing at research reactors 
domestically; and, 

* Working in cooperation with the IAEA's Office of Nuclear Security to 
encourage the development, where needed, of national security laws and 
regulations to ensure the safe and secure operation of research 
reactors. 

We thank the GAO team for providing an independent validation that 
NNSA/GTRI has improved security of this vulnerable, high risk nuclear 
material. GAO has provided constructive recommendations to further 
ensure these improvements are sustained. We also appreciate GAO's 
recognition of GTRI's efforts to accelerate reactor conversions and the 
HEU returns. 

Should you have any questions related to this response, please contact 
JoAnne Parker, Acting Director, Policy and Internal Controls Management 
at 202-586-1913. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Michael C. Kane: 
Associate Administrator for Management and Administration: 

cc: Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation: 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Gene Aloise, (202) 512-3841 or aloisee@gao.gov: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the individual named above, Ryan T. Coles, Assistant 
Director; Patrick Bernard; Omari Norman; Tim Persons; Ramon Rodriguez; 
Peter Ruedel; Rebecca Shea; Carol Herrnstadt Shulman; and Jeanette 
Soares made key contributions to this report. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] NNSA was created by the National Defense Authorization Act for 
Fiscal Year 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-65 (1999), with responsibility for 
the nation's nuclear weapons, nonproliferation, and naval reactors 
programs. 

[2] HEU, which can be used in nuclear weapons, is uranium enriched in 
the isotope uranium-235 to 20 percent or greater. In contrast, low 
enriched uranium, contains less than 20 percent uranium-235. 

[3] IAEA, an autonomous international organization affiliated with the 
United Nations, was established in Vienna, Austria, in 1957. The agency 
has the dual role of promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy by 
transferring nuclear safety and technical cooperation programs, and 
verifying, through its safeguards program, that nuclear materials 
subject to safeguards are not diverted to nuclear weapons or other 
proscribed purposes. 

[4] NNSA, Global Threat Reduction Initiative Strategic Plan: Reducing 
Nuclear and Radiological Threats Worldwide (Washington, D.C., Jan. 22, 
2009). 

[5] GAO, Nuclear Nonproliferation: DOE Needs to Take Action to Further 
Reduce the Use of Weapons-Usable Uranium in Civilian Research Reactors, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-807] (Washington, D.C.: 
July 30, 2004); and GAO, Nuclear Nonproliferation: DOE Needs to 
Consider Options to Accelerate the Return of Weapons-Usable Uranium 
from Other Countries to the United States and Russia, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-57] (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 19, 
2004). 

[6] IAEA, Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear 
Facilities, INFCIRC 225 Rev. 4., (1999). 

[7] GAO, Nuclear Security: Action May Be Needed to Reassess the 
Security of NRC-Licensed Research Reactors, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-403] (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 31, 
2008). 

[8] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-403]. 

[9] The purpose of the central alarm station is to monitor the 
employees, general public, and environment of the entire reactor 
complex. In addition, the central alarm station serves as a single, 
central contact during emergency situations. 

[10] In June 2009, NNSA announced that all HEU from this reactor was 
returned to Russia. 

[11] Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 as amended (42 U.S.C 
§ 2153) establishes the requirements for the United States to engage in 
civil nuclear cooperation agreements with foreign governments. 

[End of section] 

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