Atomic Pulse

Construction of International IAEA Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank Underway

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The world’s
first international low
enriched uranium (LEU) bank
is taking shape on a snowy landscape in the northeast
Kazakhstan city of Ust-Kamenogorsk. The remote region is known for its large mining
and metals industry, and the new LEU bank is being built on the grounds of the Ulba
Metallurgic Plant (UMP), one of the world’s largest producers of fuel for
nuclear power plants.

The LEU bank,
which is expected to be ready for operation by September, will provide
countries with an assured LEU supply for peaceful purposes in case of market
supply disruptions. In addition, it will provide a resource countries can use
instead of developing their own enrichment capacity, which would increase the
risk of proliferation of potentially dangerous nuclear material and technology.

NTI and NTI
advisor Warren Buffett were catalysts of the LEU bank in 2006. That was when
Mr. Buffett committed $50 million to the project, contingent upon the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) receiving an additional $100 million in funding, a
condition that was met in 2009. Construction of the new LEU bank facility began
in August 2016.

“It’s
exciting to see the construction underway,” said Andrew Bieniawski, NTI Vice
President for Material Security and Minimization. “We look forward to
completion of the project and commend the continued efforts of the IAEA and the
Government of Kazakhstan to establish the international LEU bank.” 

Photo provided courtesy of the IAEA and the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Kazakhstan

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