Sleep Easy:the Nuclear Fuel Bank in Kazakhstan

image from IAEA

Kazakhstan has chosen August 29, 2017 for the opening ceremony of the first Low Enriched Uranium Bank (LEU Bank), being established in Kazakhstan under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The idea to establish the LEU bank was initially put forward in 2006 by Sam Nunn, co-founder of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a non-profit organization… The IAEA authorised the initiative in 2010 and Kazakhstan volunteered the following year to host the bank.

Previously Kazakhstan voluntarily had destroyed the 1,400 nuclear weapons it inherited from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991….Kazakhstan was the first to close, at the end of Soviet days, the largest nuclear test site in the world, the Semipalatinsk test site, where 500 nuclear explosions took place,” he said, adding the LEU Bank is another example of Kazakh efforts to address the nuclear weapons issue.

The LEU bank will operate as a mechanism of last resort; in case of unforeseen disruption in a commercial market of uranium, countries that are unable to procure uranium for their nuclear power plants can request LEU from the bank under certain conditions. Thus, it will ensure a global nuclear fuel supply and facilitate nuclear non-proliferation efforts.The bank will be based at the Ulba Metallurgy Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk in eastern Kazakhstan. The plant has dealt with and stored nuclear materials for more than 60 years without any incidents.  The funding is based on voluntary contributions from the NTI, the U.S., the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, Norway, Kuwait, and Kazakhstan, which in total equals to $150 million, believed to be enough to procure 90 tonnes of low enriched uranium.

Excerpt from  Colin Stevens, 29 August opening of #Kazakhstan Low Enriched Uranium Bank, EU Report, July 24, 2017

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