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Kazakhstan to host first nuclear fuel bank to assist non-proliferation

The storage facility, set to become fully operational in 2017

Baku. 26 August.REPORT.AZ/ The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on Thursday to locate the world's first bank of low-enriched uranium in the ex-Soviet nation to ensure fuel supplies for power stations and prevent nuclear proliferation, Report informs citing Reuters.

The storage facility, set to become fully operational in 2017, is intended to provide IAEA member states with confidence in a steady and predictable supply of fuel even if other routes are disrupted.

Advocates also see it as a way to dissuade countries from building enrichment facilities that might be misused to purify uranium to weapons-grade levels - an issue that bedeviled relations between Iran and the West for more than a decade.

The agreement on establishing the bank was signed by Yukiya Amano, director general of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, and Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov. The bank will be governed by Kazakhstan's laws but fully managed and operated by the IAEA.

The IAEA estimates the cost of the bank at $150 million, which includes the procurement of low-enriched uranium (LEU) and its work for the first 10 years.

Amano said that in line with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear program, signed in July, the Islamic Republic might in the future offer part of its own LEU stocks for the bank. Inventory for the bank will be bought through open tenders, he said.

The bank will contain up to 90 metric tons of LEU, sufficient to run a 1,000 MWe (megawatt electric) light-water reactor, the IAEA said. Such a reactor can power a large city for three years, it said.

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