From: Reuters
Published February 1, 2008 10:52 PM

Russia tells U.S. plutonium plants to shut sooner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Russian weapons-grade plutonium production reactors are ahead of schedule for shutting down and will stop operating before this December's deadline, the U.S. Energy Department said on Friday.

Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency Director Sergey Kiriyenko gave the good news to U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman when the two met earlier in the day to discuss U.S.-Russian efforts to keep nuclear weapons and weapons material out of the hands of terrorists.

The plutonium production reactors in Seversk, Siberia, which made weapons grade material during the Cold War, are now operating at half power. They were supposed to be shut by the end of the year, but Kiriyenko told Bodman the facilities will be offline sooner.

"Joint efforts to safeguard materials and safely shut down legacy sites are a key area of U.S.-Russian cooperation and are essential to keep nuclear weapons safe and secure," Bodman said.

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(Reporting by Tom Doggett, editing by Todd Eastham)

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