Israel refusing to return enriched uranium received from U.S.
By Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz Correspondent
Israeli is refusing to return to the United States enriched uranium it received from the Americans many years ago for the refueling of the nuclear research facility at Nahal Sorek, according to an internal U.S. Department of Energy report.
According to the report, the American administration has been working since 1996 to return enriched Uranium that was given to friendly countries under the Atoms for Peace program. The collection of the nuclear fuel was meant to prevent its being misused for nuclear weapons construction. The American Department of Energy has so far been able to collect just 2.6 tons, while 15 tons of enriched uranium is still being held by former members of the program.
Israel is included in a list of 12 countries that the report says "are not expected to take part in the program," and which hold roughly half of the uranium that has yet to be collected. Other countries on the list include Iran, Pakistan, South Africa, France, Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The Nahal Sorek nuclear reactor was bought from the Americans and began operating in 1960, using enriched uranium provided by the U.S. In 1978 the American Congress passed a law forbidding providing nuclear fuel to countries which have nuclear facilities that are not internationally monitored.
Though the Nahal Sorek reactor is monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), The Dimona reactor is not. The law thus forbids providing Israel with nuclear fuel, and the Nahal Sorek reactor is operated stringently, until the remaining fuel runs out.
The report stated that the efforts made to retrieve enriched uranium were not sufficient.
The Israeli Atomic Energy Commission in response said "We are following all of the American initiatives to prevent the proliferation [of nuclear weapons], which have gained momentum since September 11, 2001. We have read the mentioned report, which is not a new initiative."