By Daniel B. Poneman, President & CEO
With the upcoming implementation of the Iran deal, the continuing challenge from nuclear rogue North Korea, and global competition heating up to supply nuclear facilities to new adopters of nuclear power in Asia, Europe, and Africa, American leadership in nuclear technology is more important than ever to protect our national security and maintain the highest degree of vigilance against the spread of nuclear weapons.
Oddly, however, the Administration has decided to dismantle the Nation’s only domestic advanced centrifuge facility in operation today. The facility, which contains a single cascade of 120 centrifuges built two years ago to demonstrate the technology for national security purposes, represents a vital lifeline to the future of American nuclear leadership.
The machines are now spinning at the American Centrifuge Project at Piketon, in Southern Ohio, the site of one of the three shuttered gaseous diffusion plants that, beginning with the Manhattan Project, enriched all of the highly enriched uranium (HEU) to supply the U.S. nuclear arsenal. That force won the Cold War and still defends America and her allies by deterring their adversaries. These new machines are highly efficient, represent the most advanced enrichment technology in the world, and use just a fraction of the electricity that the retired technology required. While the work is ongoing, a two-year demonstration project has thus far achieved or exceeded all technical milestones and performance indicators on or ahead of schedule and on or under budget.