SCK•CEN wishes to react to the declarations of a Texan professor that appeared in the press this morning.
Since its launch in 1962, the BR2 research reactor uses highly enriched uranium from foreign contractors. Every radioactive substance used for medical or industrial applications or for research needs a special authorization for transport. This authorization will only be delivered when the transport meets a number of safety requirements and regulations. SCK•CEN respects all safety and security regulations dictated by the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC). The SCK•CEN site is subject to the same security and protection as nuclear plants and has permanent military supervision.
At the end of 2014, the SCK•CEN requested an export license to transport higly enriched metal uranium from the US to a European contractor who is responsible for the transformation from raw material to nuclear fuel elements. These elements are delivered to Belgium. It is extremely complicated to use these elements for the production of nuclear weapons.
At the beginning of 2016 we chose a different contractor in the US who directly manufactures the final fuel elements, thus implying that the first request was withdrawn and a new one was filed by SCK•CEN. Opposite to the declarations of the Texan professor, none of his petitions had any impact on the delay of delivery. The withdrawal of the delivery request is due to a change of contractor, causing a new request.
We remind you that Belgium commits for several years already to using only low enriched uranium as soon as there will be a technological solution. A very important research programme on the transition is being held at SCK•CEN in cooperation with outside partners among which the US.
Research reactor BR2 has a crucial role in the production of medical radio-isotopes, which are essential for detection and treatment of cancers. BR2 is responsible for approximately 25% of the production of medical radio-isotopes worldwide, and can generate up to 65% in periods of great demand. The reactor guarantees the treatment of millions of patients every year throughout the world.