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International nuclear fuel bank may be launched in Kazakhstan in summer 2013

30 may 2012, 12:40
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An international bank of nuclear fuel capable of storing up to 60 tons is to be launched in Kazakhstan in 2013, KazTag Agency reports, citing Timur Zhantikin, Head of the State Agency for Nuclear Power Industry as saying.

“We plan to launch the bank in summer or autumn of 2013”, he said on the sidelines of the sitting of the CIS committee for peaceful nuclear power May 30.

According to him, “the timeline will depend on respective agreements between Kazakhstan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)”, adding that “prep works are under way at the Ulba metallurgical plant [engaged in production of hi-tech uranium, beryllium and tantalum products for the needs of the nuclear power industry] to host the bank”.

“The Ulba facility has been dealing with such [nuclear] materials for quite a while [it was established in 1949]. It possesses the needed infrastructure, expertise and trained personnel. There is nothing new for Kazakhstan: these are nuclear materials that the Ulba facility has been working with”, the Head of the Agency said.

“Part of the storage at the Ulba plant will be used to store 60 tons of nuclear materials owned by the IAEA”, he said, emphasizing that for Kazakhstan it’s more of a political project to contribute to the global non-proliferation efforts.

A nuclear fuel bank is a proposed approach to provide countries access to enriched nuclear fuel, without the need for them to possess enrichment technology. The basic concept is that countries who do have enrichment technology would donate enriched fuel to a "bank", from which countries not possessing enrichment technology would obtain fuel for their power reactors.

Back in 2009 Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev suggested hosting an international nuclear fuel bank in the Kazakh territory. The idea was approved of by the IAEA in 2011.

The Kazakh Agency for Nuclear Power was launched May 7, 2012.

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. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.

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