Monday, August 22, 2011

GE uranium enrichment plans raise fears: report

US conglomerate General Electric is seeking permission to build a $1 billion plant for uranium enrichment by laser, a process which has raised proliferation fears, The New York Times said Sunday.

After testing the enrichment process for two years, GE has asked the US government to approve its plans for a massive facility in North Carolina that could produce reactor fuel by the ton, the report said, citing GE officials.

"We are currently optimizing the design," Christopher Monetta, president of Global Laser Enrichment, a subsidiary operated by GE and Japan's Hitachi, said in an interview with the newspaper.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to deliver its decision on whether to issue a commercial license for the complex by next year, the report said.

Uranium enrichment can be used to produce both the fuel for a nuclear reactor and the fissile material for an atomic warhead. New technologies are seen as potentially dangerous as they make it easier to build a bomb. more