The United States, Mexico and Canada have entered into a trilateral nuclear security agreement under which fuel in a Mexican research reactor will be converted from highly-enriched uranium (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU).
According to a statement from the White House, the joint nuclear security pact was completed at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea which all three countries are attending.
The White House explained that the project seeks to minimize the use of HEU for civilian purposes and will help Mexico contribute to non-proliferation.
“With this decision, Mexico reaffirms its commitment to building a world free of the nuclear threat,” said Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon in a statement. “Each country must do its share to reach a safer North America and a safer planet. This is a clear example of the significant work we can do together in the North American region.”
The White House indicated that the conversion will allow the Mexican reactor to operate with LEU fuel for an extended period of time and grant Mexico’s National Institute for Nuclear Research (ININ) with the potential to increase the reactor power output.
According to the World Nuclear Association, Mexico has two nuclear reactors which generate nearly 5 percent of the nation’s electricity.
U.S. President Barack Obama lauded the latest agreement.
“I would like to thank Mexico, Canada and the IAEA for their support of our joint nuclear security efforts,” he said.
“Our strong trilateral partnership, supported by the IAEA, has made our people safer and advanced our international nuclear security effort leading into the Seoul Summit.”
The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted that: “the successful completion of this project demonstrates the concrete steps countries can collectively take in the context of the Nuclear Security Summit. We will continue to work with the United States and Mexico to enhance nuclear security in our region and worldwide.”