Agreement paves way for Low Enriched Uranium Bank in Kazakhstan

THe IAEA's LEU Bank was officially approved between IAEA Director General, Yukiya Amano (right) and Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister, Erlan Idrissov (left).
THe IAEA's LEU Bank was officially approved between IAEA Director General, Yukiya Amano (right) and Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister, Erlan Idrissov (left). | Courtesy of the Government of Kazakhstan
An agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Kazakhstan was signed Thursday that officially approves the Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank Facility to be built in Oskemen, Kazakhstan.

The bank will act as a storage facility for nuclear fuel and member states of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) will be able to access the stored uranium to be used for peaceful nuclear energy generation purposes and research. With this agreement in place, the legal framework is established for Kazakhstan to host the internationally owned facility, which will be able to hold 90 metric tons of nuclear material.

“I am confident that the IAEA LEU Bank will operate safely and securely, in line with the applicable IAEA nuclear safety standards and nuclear security guidance,” IAEA Director General, Yukiya Amano said. “As the world’s largest uranium producer, with expertise in peaceful nuclear technology, Kazakhstan is well suited to hosting the IAEA LEU Bank.”

The bank will be located at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant which has the facilities necessary to house nuclear material, which it has done for approximately 60 years.

With this bank in place, NPT state parties will have access to uranium and would avoid the costs and international risks associated with the establishment of uranium enrichment programs.


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