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International Nuclear Fuel Bank

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Mr. Buffett's excellent idea

NTI, with advisor Warren Buffett’s backing, committed $50 million for an international nuclear fuel bank to address nuclear proliferation risks

NTI pledged $50 million to the IAEA, with Warren Buffet’s backing, to help create a low-enriched uranium fuel bank for the benefit of nations that choose to rely on external suppliers. The initiative gained immediate support in a New York Times editorial titled: “Mr. Buffett’s Excellent Idea”. NTI pledged $50 million to the IAEA, with Warren Buffet’s backing, to help create a low-enriched uranium fuel bank for the benefit of nations that choose to rely on external suppliers. The initiative gained immediate support in a New York Times editorial titled: “Mr. Buffett’s Excellent Idea”.

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.

NTI, with Warren Buffett’s backing, pledged $50 million to the IAEA as seed money for an international fuel bank to supply nations with low-enriched uranium to operate nuclear power reactors.  

The proposal  gained instant support, and a New York Times editorial 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 United States, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, the European Union, and Kuwait have all contributed.

IAEA member states voted in favor of the fuel bank in December 2010.  Kazakhstan, the world’s largest producer of uranium ore has expressed interest in hosting the fuel bank.  As the fuel 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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