When Chile turned over its weapons grade uranium

A 2010 report about the high-security operations in Chile that recovered highly enriched uranium fuel. The project began before the big earthquake, and NNSA plans had to be adjusted significantly after the big quake.

Pinochet and Kissinger

…from the VT Archives

Introduction by Gordon Duff, VT Sr. Editor

Chile, it seems, so many years ago under Pinochet, ended up with enough 90% enriched uranium 235 to make a half dozen hydrogen bombs or, if desired, poison the farmland of the entire planet for the next 200,000 years.

We know this for certain because Chile was forced to turn its 20 plus pounds, and we know the amount to be much much more, over to the US for disposal.

Undated photo of letter writer Clinton Bastin. (Special to the AJC)

There is no longer any record of the transfer having occurred nor of Chile producing nuclear material for use with weapons only.

At the time, both Brazil and Argentina had nuclear programs with Brazil choosing to buy stolen plutonium from the US through Israeli sources for its dozen or so bombs.

VT is the only media source that covers the truth about nuclear proliferation.  We began with Clinton Bastin coming to VT.  Clinton was a WW2 “Iwo Marine” and nuclear weapons designer for the DOE who stood up to Israel over Iran’s peaceful nuke program.

Clinton has joined his fellow Marines, you know where, and VT added Jeff Smith, a particle physicist and former IAEA inspector who has worked in Israel, Syria, Iran and Russia, there and around the world, hunting for weapons grade nuclear material.


– First published  … April 12, 2010

The United States and Russia Tuesday finalized an agreement committing them to eliminate a total of 68 tons of weapons-grade plutonium. The deal was signed on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. 

The two major powers had agreed in principle on the plutonium disposal project at the end of the administration of former President Bill Clinton.

But disputes over how the operation would be financed and verified, which stalled the process for a decade, were finally cleared away by Tuesday’s agreement signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Under terms of the accord, each side is to dispose of at least 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, or enough to make about 17,000 nuclear weapons.

Much of it will be derived from weapons the countries are retiring under strategic arms reduction accords, including the one signed last week in Prague.

At the signing ceremony at Washington’s convention center, Clinton said the plutonium will be “irreversibly and transparently” by disposed of its conversion to civilian nuclear reactor fuel.

“The agreement provides for monitoring and inspections that will insure that this material will never be again used for weapons or any other military purpose. By using civil nuclear reactors to dispose of the plutonium, we gain an added benefit: to produce electricity for our people even as we remove a potential serious danger.”

U.S. officials say the accord could eventually mean the elimination of more than 68 tons of plutonium, given that the world’s two largest nuclear powers will be further reducing their arsenals by 30 per cent under last week’s New-START treaty.

Foreign Minister Lavrov said he hopes the show of U.S.-Russian cooperation can eventually bring the other nuclear armed states into the disarmament process as envisaged in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“It’s certainly a step in the direction of our shared goal of nuclear disarmament,” said Lavrov. “Because apart from actual limitations and reductions in nuclear strategic offensive arms, you need to do something about the plutonium which is released because of that process. And the event which we are witnessing today is of, well maybe, not less important, but certainly it’s of very significant importance.”

The actual disposal operation will not begin until 2018, after the two countries build the necessary facilities.

Lavrov said Russia will spend nearly $3 billion on its part of the process, to which the United States will contribute $400 million.

The plutonium accord was the largest of several agreements announced this week, which Obama administration officials hope will build momentum toward the summit goal of eliminating fissile nuclear material that might end up in the hands of terrorists.

In a related development, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev told President Obama Tuesday Russia will shortly close its last reactor producing plutonium, a formerly secret plant in Siberia operating for 52 years.

Ukraine said Monday it is giving up its entire stockpile of 90 kilograms of high-enriched uranium – enough for several nuclear weapons – and will convert its nuclear research reactors to lower-grade fuel.

It was also announced at the summit that Chile has turned over to the United States 18 kilograms of highly enriched uranium that had been acquired during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Nuclear experts say the agreements, though modest, are of significance.

Former Australian Foreign Minister Garth Evans, who co-chairs the International Commission on Nuclear non-Proliferation and Disarmament, said it is important that the summit be an occasion to “get people to the line” on very specific commitments.

Pinochet in Chile

Three from Y-12 helped secure Chile’s HEU

 by Frank Munger, KnoxBlogs – Atomic City News

– First published 8 April 2010 –

The recovery of highly enriched uranium from Chile drew a bunch of attention (ABC Nightline, Time, Associated Press), not only because of the non-proliferation aspects to keep the material out of terrorist hands but also because of the high-security mission was completed amid the turmoil of the devastating earthquake there.

There were a number of components to the mission, including the removal of highly enriched uranium fuel (90 percent U-235) from the RECH-2 research reactor about 30 miles outside Santiago. That was the work that involved three staffers from the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, including Trent Andes, who I spoke with this afternoon by telephone. Andes said their work was done the week of Feb. 22, involving the packaging of fresh fuel (unirradiated) for the trip to Y-12 for storage, and that work was completed before the earthquake hit.

Andes, program manager in the nuclear nonproliferation section at Y-12, said he and others from Y-12 — Todd Hawk and Jimmy Villarreal — participated in the repackaging effort put together by the National Nuclear Security Administration in cooperation with the Chilean officials.

He declined to discuss the amount of material that was brought to Y-12, but he said it arrived in the latter part of March. It was not of U.S. origin or Russian origin, but is considered to be “gap” material of the weapons-grade materials being retrieved as part of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative.

The fresh fuel bound for Y-12 was aboard the same ship as the irradiated materials bound for the Savannah River Site (where Andes worked for 15 years before coming to Y-12 in 2004), but the two shipments parted ways after arrival at the Port of Charleston. The HEU was brought to Y-12 by truck and eventually will be downblended for non-weapons uses — reactor fuel.

Andes, a 46-year-old mechanical engineer with a UT degree who is a native of Maryville, said it is a privilege to work on programs that reduce the global threat of nuclear terrorism, and he said that is more important to him because of his two young sons. “I hope they can grow up in a world that is safe from nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism,” he said.


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