THE nuclear industry has been accused of playing “transatlantic ping pong” after David Cameron announced plans to transport the biggest shipment yet of nuclear waste from Scotland to the US.

Cameron told the fourth Nuclear Security summit in Washington that 700kg of highly enriched uranium would be transported to the United States from the Dounreay storage facility in Caithness.

In return America would send a different type of used uranium back to Europe where it would be used to help diagnose cancer.

However, Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES), said: “Only the nuclear industry could think it was a good idea to risk playing ping pon gacross the Atlantic with large quantities of one of the most dangerous materials on the planet.

“Europe is littered with plenty of highly radioactive waste from both reactors and weapons, there cannot possibly be a need to be importing any more from the US, nor for us to be sending ours to them.

“Nuclear waste should be dealt with as close to where it is produced as possible rather than risking transporting it in ships or planes.

“This waste will remain dangerous for tens of thousands of years. The consequences of an accident during transit would be horrific.”

Campaign group Highlands Against Nuclear Transport (Hant), which has criticised “secret” cargo moves between Scrabster and Barrow, added its voice, claiming Cameron’s plan posed an enormous risk.

Its chairman, Tor Justad, told The National: “This is unacceptable. It’s highly risky, either by air, sea or road.

“They are taking huge risks of an accident or terror attack. Look at what happened in Belgium, where Daesh were thought to be targeting a nuclear plant.

“It’s unnecessary and a total sham because there are plenty of medical isotopes in Europe already.”

Justad added he was perplexed by the secrecy surrounding the moves.

“There’s no openness, no accountability,” he said. “We can never get straight answers when we question the necessity of these cargoes.”

The Prime Minister said he aimed to show it was possible to exhibit a different way of thinking about the disposal of nuclear waste.

His officials said the US had more capacity to store and process this largest-ever movement of nuclear waste. A different form of used uranium would be transported in return from America to the European Atomic Energy agency (Euratom), to be turned into radioactive isotopes used to detect and diagnose cancer.

Cameron also told the summit that Britain and America would hold a joint exercise to test the ability of both countries to prevent cyber-attacks on their nuclear stations and waste facilities.

He offered British expertise to countries including Japan, Turkey, South Korea and Argentina, which have asked for advice on how best to protect nuclear plants. Cameron also committed £10 million to be spent on civil nuclear security worldwide.

Obama and the leaders of Japan and South Korea re-committed themselves to each other’s security amid ongoing threats from North Korea, after a meeting alongside the summit.

The US president met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, and said the countries had agreed to deepen their cooperation.