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Establishing LEU Bank in Kazakhstan

Friday 28 August 2015

ASTANA (Interfax-Kazakhstan) — The Agreement on Establishing Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank in Kazakhstan is inked in Astana by Kazakhstan and the IAEA. The document was signed on Thursday by Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrissov and IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, a reporter of Interfax-Kazakhstan said.

The signing ceremony was attended by representatives of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, including Britain, China, Russia, US and France, as well as the donors of the project - the EU, Norway, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates. The LEU bank will be created at the facilities of the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk. The Ulba Metallurgical Plant, which is part of Kazatomprom, the national nuclear-power company, makes pellet fuels for nuclear power plants. The bank will have a physical stock of up to 90 tonnes of LEU, enough to operate a 1,000MW light-water reactor.

The bank is financed fully by volunteer contributions and does not affect the IAEA budget. Donor contributions amount to around $150 mln, enough to run the bank for at least a decade. The donors are the Nuclear Threat Initiative ($50 mln), the United States ($49.54 mln), the United Arab Emirates ($10 mln), Kuwait ($10 mln), Norway ($5 mln) and the European Union (up to €25 mln).

In addition, the Kazakh Energy Minister Vladimir Shkolnik and IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano signed an agreement on technical measures to be taken in order to accommodate the Bank. The technical agreement was signed by Yury Shakhvorostov, CEO at Ulba Metallurgical Plant JSC, and by Terry Wood, the LEU Bank project manager in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan proposed hosting an international nuclear fuel bank under the IAEA aegis in 2009.

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