Nature: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has granted a license to a GE and Hitachi partnership to construct a uranium enrichment facility in Wilmington, North Carolina. The facility uses a process called “separation of isotopes by laser excitation” (SILEX), the specifics of which are classified. What is known is that the technique uses finely tuned lasers to separate gas molecules that contain fissionable uranium-235 from molecules of the same species that contain uranium-238. Nonproliferation groups criticized the licensing because they believe that the plant’s construction could encourage other nations to develop similar technology. And because a SILEX facility is smaller than current facilities for gaseous diffusion or centrifuge enrichment processes, tracking construction of new SILEX facilities would be harder. However, the licensing allows GE Hitachi only to begin looking into construction, which would have to be approved by local authorities in North Carolina. Questions also remain as to whether SILEX would be more efficient than current enrichment methods or even whether it’s cost-effective.