Russia meets milestone in nuclear weapon elimination

The U.S. Energy Department commended Russia on Monday for eliminating 19,000 nuclear weapons from its stockpile in a U.S.-Russia partnership to turn nuclear weapons into energy.

The program, Megatons to Megawatts, is a nuclear non-proliferation program between the U.S. and Russia. The U.S. Nuclear Security Administration said it monitored the elimination of close to 524 tons of highly enriched uranium, as well as low-enriched uranium from Russia and former Soviet Union states. This milestone marks a 95 percent completion rate towards program goals, reports.

Under the agreements of the program, Russia takes high-enriched uranium from disassembled nuclear weapons and converts it to low-enriched uranium. This is then delivered to the U.S. and converted into fuel at power plants, which produces electricity for the country. The U.S. Energy Department reported 10 percent of all electricity generated from power plants in the U.S. is sourced from Russian uranium.

The Megatons to Megawatts program began in 1993 as part of the HEU disarmament treaties. The program began with an agreement that the U.S. would purchase 500 tons of uranium from Russia annually. The program has also helped reduce the demand for natural energy sources, decreasing mine production.