Assurance of Supply for Nuclear Fuel

IUEC and the LEU Guaranteed Reserve

IUECIn January 2006, the President of the Russian Federation put forward the initiative of setting up a system of international nuclear fuel cycle centres. As the first pilot project, in May 2007, the International Uranium Enrichment Centre (IUEC) in Angarsk was established by Russia and Kazakhstan. The aim of the project was to provide assured access to uranium enrichment to interested parties without transferring the sensitive technology or restricting development of national nuclear fuel cycle programmes. Ukraine and Armenia became members of the IUEC later on.

In the context of the agreement on setting up the IUEC as well as in response to the IAEA Director General’s initiative on assurances of supply of nuclear fuel, Russia proposed creating a guaranteed reserve of low enriched uranium (LEU) in June 2007. This LEU Guaranteed Reserve would be controlled by the IAEA and could be used by its Member States that find themselves unable to procure LEU from the open market for political reasons.

The IAEA Board of Governors approved this initiative on 27 November 2009. Following the completion of the negotiations with the Russian side, the IAEA Director General and the Director General of the Russian Federation´s State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), signed an agreement on 29 March 2010 to establish a reserve of LEU for supply to the IAEA for its Member States.

The guaranteed reserve was placed in the IUEC storage facility in the city of Angarsk in full (120 tons of LEU up to 4.95%) in November 2010 and inaugurated in December 2010 following the first IAEA inspection. After completion of all formal procedures the March 2010 agreement entered into force on 3 February 2011. From that date on, the LEU reserve in Angarsk has been available for IAEA Member States.

The IUEC and the IAEA-controlled guaranteed LEU reserve in Angarsk are the first proposals on nuclear fuel supply assurances to have been put into practice. The international nuclear fuel cycle provides valuable experience in building practical mechanisms of assured access to nuclear fuel cycle services. Furthermore, the IUEC could be an attractive model for assured LEU supply by means of establishing regional nuclear fuel cycle centres based on existing enrichment plants or new ones.

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