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Remarks at Ceremony Marking the Inauguration of the IAEA LEU Bank Storage Facility

Astana, Kazakhstan

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano speaks at the inauguration of the IAEA LEU Bank Storage Facility in Kazakhstan on 29 August 2017. (Photo: M. Ferrari/IAEA)

(As preprared for delivery)

Thank you, Mr President.

Mr President, Distinguished Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to attend this ceremony marking the inauguration of the IAEA LEU Bank Storage Facility at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk.

I am extremely grateful to you, Mr President, and to the Government and people of Kazakhstan for volunteering to host the IAEA LEU Bank.

Kazakhstan has for many years been a steadfast partner of the IAEA in working to prevent nuclear proliferation and advancing peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The IAEA LEU Bank is a complex project which has involved the negotiation of a number of agreements and a continuous working relationship between the IAEA and Kazakhstan.

The personal engagement of President Nazarbayev from the start has contributed greatly to the project.

I also express my appreciation for the excellent cooperation of UMP in implementing the Facility Operator Agreement for the services to be provided in connection with the IAEA LEU Bank.

I am grateful to all of the donors – the United States, the European Union, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Norway, the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Nuclear Threat Initiative – whose generous financial contributions have made this project possible.

And I thank China and the Russian Federation for their cooperation regarding transit of LEU and equipment for the IAEA LEU Bank through their territory.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The IAEA Board of Governors decided in December 2010 to establish an IAEA LEU bank that can “provide States with an additional level of assurance for the front end of the fuel cycle.”

It will be a physical reserve of up to 90 metric tons of low enriched uranium, owned and controlled by the IAEA, available for eligible IAEA Member States.

The LEU Bank will act as a mechanism of last resort for supply of LEU to Member States which experience a supply disruption due to exceptional circumstances, and which are unable to secure LEU from the commercial market, or by any other means.

I thank the management and staff of UMP, and their contractors, for their professionalism in delivering the storage facility on time and on budget.

Following the latest report of the IAEA expert team on the Storage Facility, I am satisfied that the relevant provisions of IAEA safety standards and security guidance documents have been applied. I am therefore pleased to declare that the IAEA LEU Bank  can now be  established.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Global use of nuclear power looks set to grow in the coming decades.

Nuclear energy helps to address the twin challenges – which all countries face – of securing sufficient energy to drive economic growth while working to mitigate the effects of climate change.

There are now 447 nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries. Another 58 reactors are under construction, mostly in Asia.

Around 30 countries are interested in introducing nuclear power.

It is therefore very important that a last-resort mechanism such as the IAEA LEU Bank is established to give countries confidence that they will be able to meet their future needs for nuclear fuel.

I am confident that the IAEA LEU Bank will make a valuable contribution to international efforts to ensure the availability of fuel for nuclear power plants.

I thank President Nazarbayev and the Government of Kazakhstan once again for hosting this important facility. I look forward to continuing to work closely with you in the coming years to ensure the successful operation of the IAEA LEU Bank.

Thank you.

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