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Cameron to announce moves to boost nuclear-industry security

Thursday, March 31, 2016 - 07:39

[LONDON] UK Prime Minister David Cameron will set out measures intended to boost security in the nuclear industry and counter threats to atomic plants around the world at a summit on the issue in Washington on Friday.

The premier will announce a joint UK-US exercise to test the ability of both countries to deal with a cyber-attack on the civil nuclear sector, Mr Cameron's office said ahead of his trip. That builds on a previous exercise aimed at fending off such threats to banking.

Meanwhile, the UK will start a program to help improve cyber-security in other countries' nuclear industries, following requests from Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Argentina to use British expertise. It will also provide more than 10 million pounds (S$19 million) this year to strengthen nuclear security abroad, largely through international agencies.

While there's no credible evidence that terrorists are planning to attack the UK with nuclear or radiological materials, it's prudent to test possible responses, the premier's office said, citing recent concerns over the security of Belgian nuclear sites after last week's bombings in Brussels.

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Mr Cameron will also announce a three-way deal with the US and the European Union nuclear agency, Euratom, to turn nuclear waste into medical isotopes to help fight cancer. The non-commercial arrangement will involve transferring 700 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from Scotland to the US - the largest ever shipment of such material, according to the prime minister's office.

The US, which has greater storage and processing capacity, will in turn provide suitable uranium in a different form to Europe for medical use. The arrangement is intended to show how problems disposing of nuclear waste can be solved imaginatively for mutual benefit.

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