Assurance of Supply for Nuclear Fuel

Multinational Enrichment Sanctuary Project (MESP)

Reactor CoreAs a response to assurance of nuclear fuel supply, the Government of Germany has proposed the establishment of a multilateral uranium-enrichment plant administered by the IAEA. The German proposal for a Multilateral Enrichment Sanctuary Project (MESP) allows an independent access to nuclear fuel cycle services, thus complementing the other proposals on assurances of supply of nuclear fuel.

The MESP is geared towards providing an assured and cost efficient supply of nuclear fuel. It provides States with a maximum of assurance of supply without the cost, unpredictability and proliferation risk involved in creating national enrichment capabilities.

The proposal foresees the construction of one or more enrichment facilities under the exclusive supervision of the IAEA and aims at minimizing the influence of the enrichment technology holder on the operation of these facilities.

General Features

  • Interested States would set up a commercial enrichment company as a new competitive actor in the market for enrichment services. The group of interested states would organize its cooperation according to its own preferences, and would conclude an agreement to participate in the Multilateral Enrichment Sanctuary Project. The enrichment company would offer its services using the proven technology of one of the existing holders of uranium enrichment technology.
  • The enrichment facilities of the enrichment company would be located in a “Multilateral Enrichment Sanctuary” (or “MES”) administered by the IAEA. The MES would be established by an agreement between the IAEA and a Host State.

As a further assurance for the supply of nuclear fuel, the enrichment company could establish and maintain a buffer stock or a physical reserve of nuclear fuel available on notice for the Director General of the IAEA on conditions established by the Board of Governors.

The project would require provisions on the protection of the technology between the Home State of the Technology Provider and the IAEA as the entity in control of the territory.

Principles of the proposal

The German proposal is fully in line with the principles for an assurance of supply scheme suggested:

  1. It is non-political, non-discriminatory and available to all States in compliance with their safeguards obligations;
  2. Any release of material would be determined by non-political criteria established in advance and applied objectively and consistently; and
  3. No State would be required to give up its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty regarding any parts of the nuclear fuel cycle.
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