ASTANA, December 9 /TASS/. Kazakhstan will create an IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank in its eastern regions in compliance with an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which the Kazakh Senate (the upper chamber of the country’s parliament) ratified at its plenary session on Friday.
Kazakhstan’s leading positions in the sphere of nuclear non-proliferation was the main reason why the IAEA had selected the country for its LEU Bank. During the document’s consideration by parliament, Kazakhstan’s Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev said the bank would be located at the Ulbinsky metallurgical works in the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk (eastern Kazakhstan). It is the oldest enterprise in Kazakhstan’s nuclear power industry, which has been working with Low Enriched Uranium for more than 45 years.
The Low Enriched Uranium Bank will be used for the storage of Low Enriched Uranium needed for the production of fuel elements for nuclear power plants in the form of gas. The uranium will be stored in special containers with all safety regulations strictly observed. Bozumbayev noted that the bank would not be a source for regular uranium deliveries but an emergency reserve, which would be used only in case of a crisis in the global uranium market.
The Low-Enriched Uranium Bank is in the legal ownership of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and under its control. Under its agreement with Kazakhstan, the IAEA will cover all the expenses on the acquisition, delivery and the upkeep of the low enriched uranium as well as import and export expenses. Kazakhstan, in turn, will bear the costs for storing the IAEA low-enriched uranium, including electricity bills and payment for the heating of the administrative premises as well as other expenses and salaries for the local staff.
Kazakhstan considers the project to be important for strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime; developing atomic energy for peaceful purposes and raising nuclear safety standards.
The IAEA Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank is a mechanism of last resort and a physical reserve of LEU available for eligible IAEA Member States
The key principle of the IAEA LEU Bank is that it must not distort the commercial market. The availability and operation of the IAEA LEU Bank is consistent with the rights of IAEA member states to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. A member state, which needs to purchase LEU from the IAEA LEU Bank, must have a valid comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA and no issues relating to safeguards implementation for that member state under consideration by the IAEA Board of Governors.