ASTANA, June 15. /TASS/. The establishment of the Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank in Kazakhstan under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) poses no threat to the environment and security of the region, Kazakh Foreign Ministry Ambassador At Large Barlybay Sadykov said on Monday.
"According to experts from the IAEA and Kazakhstan, the bank’s deployment in Ust-Kamenogorsk [at Ulba Metallurgical Plant in northeastern Kazakhstan] poses no security threats to the region’s environment and population," he said. Sadykov noted that low-enriched uranium in the bank "was of no interest for terrorists, since it couldn’t be used for making nuclear weapons without the appropriate technologies, infrastructure and enrichment."
"Ulba Metallurgical Plant has the longest history of using and processing nuclear materials of this class. The plant has been working with uranium hexafluoride for more than 40 years," said Timur Zhantikin, Deputy Chairman of the Atomic Control Committee at Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy.
Answering a question about the cost of the project’s implementation for Kazakhstan, marketing manager of Ulba Metallurgical Plant Alexander Khodanov said "it was about $10,000 per year." "As for the improvement of the repository’s physical protection, all work will be financed by the IAEA. We will cover maintenance, electricity and heating costs."
The IAEA LEU Bank will be a physical reserve for 4.95% U-235 low enriched uranium in the form of hexafluoride sufficient for running a 1,000 MWe light-water reactor. The IAEA LEU Bank will be owned and controlled by the IAEA but operated by Kazakhstan.