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Fuel Bank Initiative Receives Crucial EU Support

EU´s Pledge of Euro 25 Million Pushes Initiative Close to Critical Mass

MOX fuel pellets at Westinghouse

An IAEA fuel bank would guarantee supply of nuclear fuel and reactor services to bona fide States. In the photo, MOX fuel pellets at Westinghouse fabrication plant, Vasteras, Sweden. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

The European Union (EU) recently pledged Euro 25 million ($32 million) towards a nuclear fuel bank proposal to be placed under IAEA control. The offer is seen as a major boost for the initiative originally launched by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in 2006.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei welcomed the EU´s offer. "The EU pledge, along with those by Norway, the United Arab Emirates and the USA shows growing momentum for a new more equitable framework for nuclear energy," he said.

"An IAEA fuel bank would guarantee supply of nuclear fuel and reactor services to bona fide States and protect them from politically motivated disruption of supply while at the same time minimizing the risk of nuclear proliferation."

Speaking in Brussels at the Conference on Peace and Disarmament, EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana commented: "We decided to support the IAEA nuclear fuel bank with a contribution of up to Euro 25 million for its construction."

"We want the bank to be established very soon. In any case before the next NPT Review Conference in spring 2010. I am convinced that the creation of a fuel bank will have a positive impact on the general climate of the NPT Review Conference," he said.

Aside from the original $50 million contribution to the initiative made by NTI´s advisor Warren Buffett in September 2006, so far the IAEA fuel bank initiative has received contribution pledges from the US, United Arab Emirates and Norway.

Background

The NTI proposal of an LEU fuel bank, to be placed under IAEA auspices, is one among several multilateral nuclear approaches currently being proposed. Decision on location, organization, and conditions for access to an eventual fuel bank are the prerogative of the Agency and its Member States.

Enriched uranium provides the fuel for many of the world´s nuclear power reactors, and the enrichment process is a vital process in a multi-step nuclear fuel cycle. The enrichment of uranium, while a necessary step in the creation of the fuel that power many of the world´s civilian nuclear reactors, can also be employed for use in nuclear weapons.

By providing a secure and reliable supply of the fuel needed for nuclear power generation, a nuclear fuel bank would limit the dissemination of enrichment technologies.

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