U.S. supports plan to create low-enriched uranium bank in Kazakhstan

The U.S. State Department praised the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) approval of an agreement last week between the IAEA and Kazakhstan to establish a bank of low-enriched uranium (LEU) in that country.

The LEU facility will provide pieces of LEU to countries that are seeking to research peaceful uses of the material, such as for nuclear energy development. With this agreement in place, the LEU bank in Kazakhstan would be the first of its kind that does not belong to any single country; it would be operated by the IAEA.

The agreement will need to be finalized through ratification by the Kazakhstan Parliament before the facility can be built.

In 2009, President Obama called for the implementation and development of a fuel bank of this kind that would be a safe place for nations to obtain uranium for the development of their nuclear energy programs. The bank will be open to all IAEA members, and Obama said such a facility would promote civil cooperation in nuclear energy development and help prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons. The State Department said this undertaking by the Kazakhstan government cements its commitment to nonproliferation and gives it a leading role in the facilitation of nuclear security.