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Kazakhstan: encouraging civilian nuclear energy, with security in mind via beyond brics

The agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme shows what can be achieved through commitment and patient negotiation. Kazakhstan was proud to have contributed to the historic agreement by hosting two rounds of talks between Iran and the P5+1 negotiators in 2013.

Building on this progress, this week will see the signing in Astana of the agreement to establish the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Bank of Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) in Kazakhstan. It is an historic step which will have a far-reaching impact and underlines Kazakhstan’s strong commitment to peace and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The LEU Bank will serve as an assurance of supply mechanism of last resort in case of disruption of the open market.

It will allow states that use nuclear power stations and seek ways to ensure reliable fuel supplies, to forego the expense of developing their own enrichment capabilities, if they so choose. Of course, choosing either way of developing atomic energy is a sovereign decision of a state, yet the IAEA LEU Bank allows them an opportunity to save resources when implementing such programmes. At the same time, the Bank will make it difficult for countries to argue that they need indigenous uranium enrichment to assert their right to peaceful nuclear energy. In turn, it will reduce mistrust between nations. Fundamentally, it will prove a significant hurdle for those attempting to proliferate nuclear weapons.

Kazakhstan is a natural host for the Bank. We are the biggest producer of natural uranium. But our people also know first-hand the devastation of nuclear weapons. Our determination to work for a world free of nuclear weapons has defined our nation and our place in the international community.

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We have worked tirelessly to prevent other countries suffering as we have. Kazakhstan is a signatory to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and has campaigned passionately for a universal ban on nuclear testing. We won the support of the United Nations to commemorate the annual anniversary of the closing of the Semipalatinsk site on August 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests. And we have launched The ATOM Project, giving global citizens an opportunity to urge their leaders to end nuclear testing permanently and ensure the early entry into force of the CTBT.

We have been active participants in all three Nuclear Security Summits to step up global efforts against nuclear terrorism. But we remain convinced that the only way to prevent the terrifying consequences of warheads being exploded, either accidentally or deliberately, is a world free of nuclear weapons.

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