Back in 2009, in a clandestine operation, Israel returned 102 nuclear fuel rods to the United States from the Sorek nuclear facility, David Danieli, deputy director of the Israel’s Nuclear Energy Agency reveals.
Danieli spoke with Walla News ahead of the Seoul Conference addressing nuclear safety. Dr. Yair Yariv, chief scientist at Sorek added the facility is slated to shut down at by the end of this decade after another site is operational.
The nuclear research facility was established with American assistance 52 years ago, and it was operating under the watchful eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
US fuel is highly enriched, high quality, to 93% fissionable uranium. That is what operated the facility. The quality however diminishes as it is used, and once it falls below 60%, the atomic fuel is no longer of use. Over the years of operation, 102 such rods accumulated and they were returned to the USA.
According to Danieli, this took place in December 2009, following careful coordination between Jerusalem and Washington. An American firm was hired for the job, and the radioactive cargo was carefully loaded and delivered to its destination. He adds there are still spent rods in the facility today, but he declined to give a number. He stressed that there is no safety issue since they are being stored in compliance with international standards.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)