May 5, 2011: Reps. Call on Obama to Halt Russian Production of Medical Isotopes
Markey, Fortenberry Call on Obama to Halt Russian Production of Medical Isotopes Using Highly Enriched Uranium
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), House co-author of the American Medical Isotopes Production Act and co-chair of the bipartisan Caucuses on Nonproliferation, and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) wrote to President Obama today urging him to pressure Russia to end their plan to produce medical isotopes using highly enriched uranium (HEU), which would be in direct conflict with several major nonproliferation agreements signed between both nations. Additionally, the lawmakers expressed concern that the Russian plan would put American jobs at risk by undermining domestic efforts to produce a stable source of medical isotopes from proliferation-resistant low enriched uranium. Medical isotopes are used in critical medical procedures to detect heart disease, cancer and other diseases. In fall 2010 the Russian Federation announced its initiative to use HEU to produce the medical isotope molybdenum-99 for the global market.
“This decision raises nuclear nonproliferation concerns and sends a conflicting message to the international community from what should be one of our strongest global partners in achieving nuclear security,” wrote Reps. Markey and Fortenberry in the letter to President Obama.
A full copy of the letter to President Obama can be found HERE .
Russian production of isotopes with HEU would be in direct conflict with the U.S.-Russia and U.N. nonproliferation agreements embodied in the Joint Statement by President Obama and Russian President Medvedev in 2009 and UN Security Council Resolution 1887 in 2009. In Spring 2010 Russia strengthened its commitment to the phase out of HEU use for medical isotope production by signing on to the Work Plan of the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit.
“Please ask Russia to make good on its commitment to phase out the use of HEU for making medical isotopes and other civilian uses and to stop subsidizing these efforts that risk our mutual nonproliferation goals,” write Reps. Markey and Fortenberry. “By persuading Russia to take these steps, you can both bolster our nuclear security and level the playing field for and American isotope industry to develop.”
Consistent with the conclusion from the National Academy of Sciences that found full-phase out of HEU-based medical isotope production can be achieved by 2016 to 2019, the Markey-authored 2010 American Medical Isotopes Act is intended to create a domestic source of medical isotopes from low enriched uranium sources. Rep. Markey plans to reintroduce the legislation this Congress.