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Low-enriched uranium might be transited across China to nuclear fuel bank in Kazakhstan

22 june 2015, 12:40
0
REUTERS ©
REUTERS ©

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is considering transiting low-enriched uranium across China&rsquos territory to the international nuclear fuel bank to be shortly hosted in Kazakhstan, Newskaz.ru reported, citing Timur Zhantikin, Head of the Committee for Nuclear Power Supervision within the country&rsquos Energy Ministry.

The agreement to launch the international nuclear fuel bank is to be signed between Kazakhstan and the IAEA late August 2015. Russia and the IAEA have already signed an agreement on transiting low-enriched uranium across Russia&rsquos territory. The agreement will facilitate low-enriched uranium supply to Kazakhstan and further on to other nations eligible to get the nuclear fuel.

&ldquoLow-enriched uranium can be transited to Kazakhstan not only across Russia&rsquos territory. Another similar agreement is being thrashed out with China. It&rsquos up to the IAEA to come to terms with China (&hellip.)&rdquo, Mr. Zhantikin told journalists June 19.

&ldquoThe materials could be also transited across the Caspian Sea; however, the region is not quite stable. But this option is not ruled out&rdquo, he said.

Back in 2009 Kazakhstan&rsquos President Nursultan Nazarbayev suggested hosting an international nuclear fuel bank in the Kazakh territory. The idea was approved of by the IAEA in 2011 as the country had given its nuclear weapons shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. At the time, Kazakhstan possessed the fourth largest nuclear arsenal in the world.

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.

June  11, 2015 the IAEA approved of the draft agreement on launching the low-enriched uranium bank in Kazakhstan.

Back in 2013, Yerlan Idrissov, Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, assured Kazakhstan senators that the planned placement of the international nuclear fuel bank in Kazakhstan would pose no environmental risks.

A nuclear fuel bank is a proposed approach to provide countries with an access to 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.

&ldquoThe international uranium market is unstable; the problems are indirectly related tote nuclear issues of Iran and North Korea. They are concerned that fuel for civil power plants may be running low at times. Hence the idea of an international fuel bank under the aegis of the IAEA. Such bank would enable countries to purchase uranium for their power plants at reasonable prices with no political obstacles&rdquo, the Minister explained at that time.

&ldquoUlba metallurgical plant [engaged in production of hi-tech uranium, beryllium and tantalum products for the needs of the nuclear power industry] deals with low-enriched fuel to be stored in the international nuclear fuel bank. The bank will be storing a total of 60 tons, which is a small volume. The Ulba plant annually stores over 1000 tons; there has been no threat&rdquo, the Minister said.

 


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