The United Nations atomic watchdog is to open a Uranium bank in Kazakhstan.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) facility will assure a supply of “last resort” Low Enriched Uranium (LEU).
The material is the basic ingredient to fabricate nuclear fuel.
The bank will act as a physical reserve of LEU available for eligible IAEA member states.
It will only come into play if the supply of LEU to a nuclear power plant is disrupted due to exceptional circumstances and the member state is unable to secure LEU from the commercial market or by any other means.
The bank will be a physical reserve of up to 90 metric tons of LEU suitable to make fuel for a typical light water reactor, the most widely used type of nuclear power reactor worldwide.
The LEU can be used to make enough nuclear fuel to power a large city for three years.
This will provide member states with additional confidence in their ability to obtain nuclear fuel in an assured and predictable manner in the event there is disruption.
The IAEA LEU Bank will be located at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Oskemen, Kazakhstan.
There are already reserves of LEU in Russia and the US.
A key principle of the IAEA bank is that it must not distort the commercial market.