ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Sept. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- International leaders in nuclear non-proliferation gathered at a signing ceremony in Astana, Kazakhstan on August 27, 2015 to celebrate the establishment of an international bank for low-enriched uranium (LEU) in Kazakhstan. The culmination of a decade of negotiations the bank is the first of its kind and falls under the administration of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The agreement, made possible by transit support through Russia, is expected to play a key role in preventing the spread of enrichment programs such as those which took centre stage in the recent P5+1 negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. The bank is funded in part through donations from the United States, the European Union, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Norway, Kazakhstan, and philanthropist Warren Buffett through the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).
The LEU Bank, which was announced in May 2015, is expected to start receiving fuel to the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Oskemen, Kazakhstan in 2017. For more details on the LEU Bank and similar projects, please visit the IAEA information page: https://www.iaea.org/ourwork/leubank.
At the event, Andrew Weber, former US assistant secretary of defence for nuclear, chemical and biological defence programs commented on the importance of the bank, which provides "an international, neutral, reliable, supply of low enriched uranium for power reactors, so [future developers] don't have to develop their own enrichment capabilities that could be misused to produce the fuel for nuclear weapons."
When asked how and when the bank will be used in an interview, former Senator and Co-Chairman Sam Nunn of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-profit group which seeks to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, said, "It's being used every day that you have countries that decide that they can rely on the marketplace and this backup to the marketplace and not develop their own enrichment capability."
For Kazakhstan, Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov underlined "the fact that Kazakhstan was entrusted with this initiative to host this LEU Bank signals about the global recognition of Kazakhstan as the leader in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation."
SOURCE Kazakhstan Ministry of Foreign Affairs