IAEA approves uranium fuel bank in Kazakhstan

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has approved a host-state agreement with the Government of Kazakhstan that would make the country home to a low-enriched-uranium (LEU) fuel bank, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) said on Thursday.

Because the stockpile would be owned by the IAEA, it would be the first bank to not be owned by a single country. It would provide LEU supplies for research into peaceful uses.

Acting as an NTI adviser, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett backed the initiative's commitment of $50 million to begin operations.

“The LEU fuel bank is a much-needed investment in a safer world and a valuable tool in helping to prevent future nuclear dangers,” Buffett said. “I am delighted that we are so close to making the long-discussed idea of an LEU fuel bank a reality.”

This commitment was made in 2006 on the condition that the IAEA would be able to secure an additional $100 million in funding, which the agency received from the European Union, Kazakhstan, Norway, Kuwait, the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

For the agreement to be finalized, it will need to be signed by both the IAEA and Kazakhstan government, then ratified by the Kazakhstan Parliament.

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