The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Government of Kazakhstan today signed a host-state agreement that will allow the country to host an international low-enriched uranium (LEU) bank that will provide countries with an assurance of LEU supply for peaceful purposes. Owned and managed by the IAEA, the bank would be the first international fuel bank not under the control of an individual country.
At the ceremony in Astana, NTI Co-Chairman and former Senator Sam Nunn noted that “locating the fuel bank in Kazakhstan is a cornerstone in developing a new and improved approach to managing the risks associated with producing fuel for civil nuclear power.”
He also delivered a message from NTI advisor and investor in the project, Warren Buffett, that expressed appreciation for President Nazarbayev and IAEA Director-General Amano: “I look forward to the time soon when the fuel bank will become an operational reality. Please tell the decision-makers that I am a patient and long-term investor, and that I know international agreements take time, but also tell them that I am 84 years old!”
The IAEA Board of Governors approved the agreement in June. NTI and Mr. Buffett were catalysts of the LEU fuel bank by providing $50 million to jump-start the reserve. Buffett financially backed and enabled NTI’s commitment.
NTI and Buffett made the $50 million commitment in 2006 contingent on the IAEA receiving an additional $100 million in two-to-one matching funds, a condition that was met in 2009, and the IAEA taking the necessary actions to approve establishment of the bank, which occurred in 2010. The matching funds were provided by the European Union, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Norway, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
Read more about the fuel bank here.