Though they may not know it, millions of Americans get their electricity from atomic bombs — Russian ones, to be specific. For several years, a unique U.S.-Russian partnership has turned thousands of nuclear weapons into civilian energy.
Under the Megatons to Megawatts program, Russia sends dismantled weapons to the United States Enrichment Corp., a for-profit American company, which in turn sells the power source to American electricity companies.
The highly unusual arrangement originated in 1993, when the United States and Russia realized that while dismantling [de-activating] nuclear weapons was a positive step, it created large risks of “loose nukes” — Russian nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands.
But the program most likely won’t be replaced when it expires in 2013.
“Russia considers its weapon-grade uranium stock a valuable reserve that it doesn’t want to spend,” explains nuclear expert Dr. Pavel Podvig.