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Kazakhstan to Host International Uranium Fuel Bank via The New York Times

VIENNA — An international uranium fuel bank will open in Kazakhstan in two years, partly funded by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett, after the board of the U.N. nuclear agency approved a hosting agreement on Thursday with the Central Asian country.

The scheme is designed to secure the supply of uranium for nuclear power plants should the commercial market be 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 has bedeviled relations between Iran and the West for more than a decade.

“If the dozens of countries interested in nuclear energy also choose to pursue uranium enrichment, the risk of proliferation of dangerous nuclear materials and weapons would grow beyond the tipping point. This has been our experience with Iran,” said Sam Nunn, co-chairman of the U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a non-governmental organization.

The new fuel bank, the first outside the control of an individual country, “now gives countries an alternative to that choice and direction”, he said.

The fuel bank, basically a storehouse in a metallurgical compound in northeast Kazakhstan, could house around 90 metric tonnes of low-enriched uranium (LEU) – enough to make fuel to run a 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor.

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