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Kazakhstan, IAEA ink deal on LEU bank

27 August 2015 12:22 (UTC+04:00)
Kazakhstan, IAEA ink deal on LEU bank

By Aynur Karimova

Kazakhstan and the International Atomic Energy Agency have signed an agreement to establish a low-enriched uranium bank in the country, RIA Novosti reported on August 27.

The deal was signed by Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrisov and IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana on August 27.

"A lot of work remains to be done. But after the signing [of the agreement] today, we have a legal framework, so we can move forward together to begin full-scale implementation [of the agreement]. I am very grateful to all the donors, including the government of Kazakhstan, because their contribution has made the establishment of the IAEA LEU bank possible," Amano said after the signing of the agreement.

Kazakhstan initiated the placement of the international LEU bank in its territory under the auspices of IAEA in 2009.

Earlier Timur Zhantikin, the deputy chairman of the Atomic Control Committee at Kazakhstan’s Energy Ministry said the actual arrival of nuclear material in Kazakhstan is expected in 2017.

The LEU bank will be based on Kazakhstan’s Ulba Metallurgical Plant. The UMP is a member of the Kazatomprom National Atomic Company and produces fuel pellets for nuclear power plants.

The bank hopes to store up to 90 metric tons of the low-enriched uranium for the production of gasified fuel elements to be used in nuclear power plants that do not pose any radiation threat. Any country seeking to develop nuclear energy will be able to request nuclear fuel from Kazakhstan.

Some $150 million was allocated by the Nuclear Threat Initiative non-profit organization ($50 million), the Norwegian government ($5 million), the U.S. ($49 million), the UAE ($10 million), the EU (up to 25 million euros), Kuwait ($10 million), as well as Kazakhstan ($400,000) for the establishment and operation of the LEU bank for at least 10 years.

The LEU can be used to make enough nuclear fuel to power a large city for three years. It will also provide Member States with additional confidence in their ability to obtain nuclear fuel in an assured and predictable manner.

The nuclear bank will guarantee countries access to the uranium they need for their civilian nuclear programs without having to develop enrichment processes themselves.

The bank achieves two worthwhile goals at the same time. It will encourage nuclear power, which will help drive the switch to low-carbon economic growth, and it will also help prevent the spread of nuclear weapons-capable technologies and the risks that they bring to global security.

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Aynur Karimova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Aynur_Karimova

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz

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