International IAEA LEU Fuel Bank

"Mr. Buffett's excellent idea"

Challenge

As interest in nuclear energy grows, the world risks the spread of enrichment technology which can be used for nuclear weapons 

Action

Develop an internationally assured supply of low enriched uranium, creating an option for countries choosing not to develop uranium enrichment capabilities

Results

The first IAEA low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel bank is being built in Kazakhstan, backed by NTI and Warren Buffett

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), approximately 40 countries are interested in building their first nuclear power plant. If they proceed, all will need nuclear fuel, and they will get it either by buying it from an existing supplier or making it themselves.

The concern:  The same enrichment technology for making peaceful nuclear fuel can also be used for developing weapons. Alarmed by the potential spread of nuclear weapons technology, NTI in 2006 made a bold proposal.

With Warren Buffett’s generous backing, NTI pledged $50 million to the IAEA as seed money for an international bank to supply nations with low-enriched uranium (LEU) to operate nuclear power reactors in case of supply disruption. 

The proposal  gained instant support, and The New York Times heralded it in an editorial titled “Mr. Buffett’s Excellent Idea.” Called a "breakthrough" and "trailblazing," the pledge helped unblock years of stagnation on the concept.

NTI’s pledge was conditioned on other nations providing $100 million in matching funds. The European Union, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States have all contributed.

IAEA member states voted in favor of the fuel bank in December 2010. The IAEA has worked with the Government of Kazakhstan, the world’s largest producer of uranium ore, to identify a safe and secure site to host the bank. The IAEA Board of Governors approved the host-state agreement in June 2015, and the host-state agreement was signed in Kazakhstan in August 2015.  As the LEU bank is set up, countries interested in peaceful nuclear energy will have more assurances and more options for their energy programs.

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Latest Activity

The IAEA LEU Bank: Achievements So Far and Next Steps

Room L1, Level 1 (Green) Austria Center Vienna
On 27 August 2015, the IAEA and the Republic of Kazakhstan signed an agreement to establish a physical reserve of Low Enriched Uranium (LEU Bank) in Oskemen, Kazakhstan. Join us in Vienna for an interactive discussion with a panel of leading experts on the issue.

September 15 Event in Vienna on International LEU Bank

On 27 August 2015, the IAEA and the Republic of Kazakhstan signed an agreement to establish a physical reserve of Low Enriched Uranium (LEU Bank) in Oskemen, Kazakhstan. Join us for an interactive discussion with a panel of leading experts on the issue, with NTI Board Member Amb. Hamad Al Kaabi and Vice President Andrew Bieniawski. The open event is Tuesday, September 15th, at 13:15 in Vienna.

Open the Bank, Urges Nunn

In a new op-ed for the International New York Times, Sam Nunn calls for swift action to resolve remaining issues and open an IAEA nuclear fuel bank.

International Fuel Bank

IAEA Vienna, Austria
Sam Nunn announced that the Nuclear Threat Initiative is prepared to contribute $50 million to the IAEA to help create a low enriched uranium stockpile owned and managed by the IAEA.

Partner Organizations

International Atomic Energy Agency

The IAEA is the world's center of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up in 1957 as the world's "Atoms for Peace" organization within the United Nations family.
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