Nuclear Weapons | Analysis and New Insights

Crossing the Finish Line: Ending the Civilian Use of Highly Enriched Uranium

Miles A. Pomper and Philippe Mauger | May 2014


Winning global support to phase out the civilian use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) has been one of the seminal achievements of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process that President Barack Obama started four years ago.

For decades, the United States has sought to secure and minimize the worldwide use of this dangerous material. Important US-led efforts such as the Global Threat Reduction Initiative have successfully eliminated civilian HEU in over two dozen countries, removing enough material to build 200 nuclear weapons. However, broader international efforts have been too often hampered by a lack of multilateral support.

As the final summit approaches in 2016, the world needs a comprehensive strategy to eliminate HEU from the civilian sector, write Miles Pomper and Philippe Mauger of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

In a new policy analysis brief commissioned by the Stanley Center, Pomper and Mauger argue that the United States, the Netherlands, and South Korea should take full advantage of the NSS mechanisms—while they have them—to build sustained support for civilian HEU elimination.