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ASTANA, June 15. /TASS/. The low-enriched uranium bank under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may begin operation in Kazakhstan no earlier than 2017, the deputy chairman of the energy ministry’s atomic energy committee said on Monday.
"Now work is underway to prepare this project for implementation. We comply with the IAEA recommendations on the security standards. This will approximately take around two years," Timur Zhantikin said.
A series of technical revisions are due to be carried out later. "If we manage to implement all this successfully, then the material will go [to bank]," Zhantikin told a press conference.
Kazakhstan and the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, plan to sign the agreement on establishing the low-enriched uranium bank in late August 2015, the country’s Foreign Ministry has said.
The ministry said the IAEA board of governors has approved a draft agreement with Russia on the IAEA transit of low-enriched uranium to the bank and from it to the member-states that have gained the right for such supplies.
"The project on creating the low-enriched uranium bank in Kazakhstan is unique and knows no equals in the IAEA history," the ministry stressed.
The creation of international reserves of the low-enriched uranium under the agency’s auspices will allow all its member-states to get the guaranteed access to nuclear fuel without infringing on their sovereign right for developing their own peaceful nuclear and energy programs in line with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the IAEA Charter, it said.
Donors will provide $150 million for the IAEA LEU Bank. The funds will be allocated by the US ($49.54 mln), the EU (up to €25 mln ), the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) ($50 mln), the United Arab Emirates ($10 mln), Kuwait ($10 mln) and Norway ($5 mln), according to the ministry.
The IAEA LEU Bank, to be located at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant at Ust-Kamenogorsk in eastern Kazakhstan, will store uranium hexafluoride with a nominal enrichment of U-235 to 4.95% This will be enough for three reloads of fuel for a 1,000 MW light water reactor.