International Atomic Energy Agency opens uranium bank of last resort in Kazakhstan

Sam Nunn credit Nuclear Threat Initiative

"I am confident that the IAEA LEU Bank will make a valuable contribution to global efforts to ensure the availability of fuel for nuclear power plants", Director General Amano told the event which was attended also by representatives of IAEA Member States and donors.

Safety and security of the IAEA LEU Bank will be governed by Kazakhstan's legal and regulatory requirements, and will meet the applicable provisions of the IAEA's safety standards and security guidance documents.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev attended a ceremony in the capital Astana to mark the official opening of the IAEA LEU Bank Storage Facility at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant (UMP) in the eastern city of Ust-Kamenogorsk.

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Russian Federation has operated a similar bank since 2010 but the one in Kazakhstan will be the first one fully owned and operated by the global nuclear watchdog.

KAZINFORM The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov held a number of meetings with foreign guests who arrived in Astana to participate in the presentation of the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank, Pugwash Science Conference, and other events, the MFA press service reports. By providing uranium, it will disincentivise countries from developing their own uranium enrichment capacities-as even supposedly peaceful programs could see uranium enriched to a weapons-grade level. "The bank will play an important role in reducing nuclear dangers and serve as a vivid example of the benefits of global cooperation at a time when our world is in a race between cooperation and catastrophe". The same enrichment technology that produces fuel for a nuclear reactor can also produce the material for a nuclear bomb.

NTI proposed setting up the LEU bank in 2006, and the Kazakh government and IAEA reached agreement on the project in August 2015. For years, the Nuclear Threat Initiative has been working behind the scenes to set up this bank and they got a big boost when Warren Buffett pledged $50 million to the cause.

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