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Remarks at Signing of the Host State Agreement on the IAEA LEU Bank

Astana, Kazakhstan

Distinguished Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is an important occasion.

Under the Host State Agreement and the related technical agreements, which Foreign Minister Idrissov, Energy Minister Scholnik and I, and our officials, have just signed, an IAEA Bank of low enriched uranium will be established in Kazakhstan.

The IAEA LEU Bank will serve as a supply of last resort.  It is a mechanism to provide confidence to countries that they will be able to obtain LEU for the manufacture of fuel for  nuclear power plants in the event of an unforeseen, non-commercial disruption to their supplies.

It will be operated in a way that will not distort the commercial market.

With the signature of these agreements, we have taken a significant step towards implementing the decision of the IAEA Board of Governors 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.”

I am very grateful to President Nazarbayev and the Government and people of Kazakhstan for volunteering to host the LEU Bank and for the constructive negotiations which have made it possible.

I also thank the Russian Federation for concluding an agreement to allow transit of LEU to and from the IAEA LEU Bank.

Detailed discussions, and a great deal of legal and technical work, have taken place over the past three years.

I thank the teams on both sides for their hard work and dedication in completing the agreements we have signed today and in moving the IAEA LEU Bank project forward.

As a result of their efforts, I am confident that the IAEA LEU Bank will operate safely and securely, in line with IAEA nuclear safety standards and nuclear security guidance.

A lot of work must still be done, but after the signing of the relevant documents today, the legal framework is fully in place and we can move ahead with full-scale implementation. 

I am grateful to all of the donors, including the Government of Kazakhstan. Their contributions will make it possible to establish the IAEA LEU Bank and will cover its costs for the first ten years of operation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the world’s largest uranium producer, with expertise in peaceful nuclear technology, Kazakhstan is well suited to hosting the IAEA LEU Bank.

The Ulba Metallurgical Plant is a licensed nuclear site with 60 years of experience in commercial-scale operations.

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

President Nazarbayev took the historic decision to give up the substantial arsenal of nuclear weapons which Kazakhstan inherited from the Soviet Union and to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon State.

Kazakhstan has an exemplary record of contributing to non-proliferation and international peace. It also works closely with the IAEA in peaceful nuclear applications such as cancer control, and is supporting the modernisation of our nuclear applications laboratories.

I thank the Government of Kazakhstan once again for its cooperation in the important additional area of assurance of supply and I look forward to continuing to work closely together in the coming years.

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.

Thank you.


Last update: 25 Nov 2019

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