IAEA agreements pave way for Low Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors approved two agreements pertaining to its Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank on Thursday.

An agreement with Kazakhstan will allow that country to establish and operate the LEU bank. The other agreement is with Russia and will allow LEU to be transported through its territory.

The IAEA LEU Bank has been in the works since it was authorized by the Board of Governors in December 2010. The bank provides assurance to member states in case of circumstances that prevent them from obtaining LEU on the commercial market or through arrangements with other states and fulfills a vital role in securing the LEU supply. The bank is funded by voluntary contributions and will hold up to 90 metric tons, which is enough to power a large city for three years through a 1,000 MWe light-water reactor.

Kazakhstan expressed an interest in hosting the bank in July 2011, and the IAEA has been working with that country to iron out details since then. According to the agreement, the bank will be operated by Kazakhstan but owned and controlled by the IAEA and subject to the agency’s safety and security guidelines.

“The conclusion of the two agreements, with today’s approval by the Board of Governors, represents a significant milestone for this important project, enabling us to proceed to full-scale implementation,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said.

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