IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank Launches in Kazakhstan | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank Launches in Kazakhstan

This Tuesday, an event took place in Eastern Kazakhstan that did not make the front pages of leading newspapers or the breaking news feeds of international information agencies. Nonetheless, the event’s significance should not be underestimated. On August 29, the International Atomic Energy Agency Low-Enriched Uranium Bank was officially opened at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk. The date was no accident: on August 29, 1991, the Semipalatinsk Test Site was shut down, and the UN later declared the date the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. The idea of establishing nuclear fuel banks goes back at least 20 years. What is the best way of creating a mechanism that guarantees uranium supplies to countries that comply with the nuclear non-proliferation regime but, due to political reasons, do not yet have access to the global uranium markets? Eight years ago, Russia put forward a proposal to establish a security stock of low-enriched uranium in Angarsk and by late 2010, the International Uranium Enrichment Center’s storage facilities stored the full amount of nuclear fuel security stocks (over 120 tonnes). Russia’s experience was without any doubt used in setting up the new low-enriched uranium bank, although the centres in Angarsk and in Ust-Kamenogorsk differ significantly both in the technologies used and in their legal status. But it is not the matter of the project’s engineering solutions or legal technicalities. This initiative was implemented in a drastically different international climate, in a different system of political coordinates. Since 2010, the global situation has changed radically and, alas, it has not been a change for the best. Hopes pinned on the “reset” of Russia–U.S. relations have not panned out. The arms — and nuclear weapons — race has accelerated. And the problem of nuclear proliferation has become worse, as highlighted once again by the grave Korean peninsula crisis...