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Chinese institution completes converting Ghana's nuclear reactor into an LEU

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-08-12 11:30

ACCRA - The China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) has completed the conversion of Ghana's Nuclear Reactor from a Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) reactor to a Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) one.

At a ceremony to celebrate the completion of work here Thursday, China's Ambassador to Ghana Sun Baohong noted that this project had opened a new window in the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

In response to the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) by the United States, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supported the conversion of Ghana's HEU plant installed in 1994.

"This is another achievement we have chalked in our bilateral cooperation," Sun noted during the inspection of the facility.

She added:" It is a good day because it is the start of another opportunity in our cooperation. China and Ghana are longstanding friends and we have carried out a lot of cooperation in all fronts and nuclear energy; we have carried out cooperation for 25 years."

She noted that Ghana was ahead of many other African countries in the field of nuclear energy, adding that the program is very significant in various respects.

"This program is very significant to the global non-proliferation undertaking. It is also significant to enrich our cooperation in science and technology. And it is also very important for the further steps of Ghana to engage in peaceful use of atomic energy and in this context I firmly believe that it has opened a new window for our cooperation," Sun said.

The ambassador pledged the full support of the embassy to the cooperation on nuclear power development between Ghana and China to enable engagement with the Atomic Energy Commission in further exploring the possibilities in cooperation.

China was chosen by the IAEA to carry out the more than $20 million conversion project because the original HEU reactor was of Chinese origin. The process involved replacing the original core of the reactor which has 90.2 percent uranium enrichment with one that is below 20 percent.

"We've been cooperating very closely with China on the technical front and also financial assistance for the whole project. We are appreciative that now the conversion is finished and today we would put power in the thing as a way of beginning the whole process of application of this technology," Kweku Aning, Chairman of the Governing Council of GAEC, said in his brief remarks.

Among the Chinese institutions which have cooperated with the GAEC over the years and on the project are China National Nuclear Corporation(CNCC), China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) and China Atomic Energy Commission (CAEC).

"Our cooperation with China in the area of nuclear has been very beneficial, especially for research, for training and also support for industry, nuclear security and other issues so they have helped us move from Highly-Enriched Uranium (HEU) to Lower Enriched Uranium (LEU)," Anning added.

He expressed the hope that GAEC and the Chinese institutions would continue to collaborate to make Ghana's dream of becoming a nuclear power a reality.

Director of the Nuclear Research Institute of Ghana, Francis Ofosu, told Xinhua that the nuclear reactor had been very useful for the country as countless number of students had used it over the past two decades for their Masters and Ph.D level research work.

"With the completion of the conversion, a major hurdle has been cleared and our research is back into full operation," he added.

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