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Use of Low Enriched Uranium stored at the IAEA LEU Bank

Under normal circumstances, Member States obtain LEU from the open market, State-to-State arrangements or other means.

If, however, an IAEA Member State is unable to obtain LEU on its own, it can request from the IAEA a supply from the IAEA LEU Bank as a mechanism of last resort. The IAEA Director General will determine whether the request meets the criteria approved by the IAEA Board of Governors and will keep the Board informed throughout the process.

The criteria to receive LEU from the IAEA LEU Bank are:

  • the supply of LEU to a nuclear power plant is disrupted due to exceptional circumstances impacting availability and/or transfer;
  • the Member State is unable to secure LEU from the commercial market, State-to-State arrangements, or by any other such means;
  • the IAEA has drawn the conclusion in the most recent Safeguards Implementation Report for the Member State that there has been no diversion of declared nuclear material;
  • there are no issues relating to safeguards implementation in that Member State under consideration by the IAEA Board of Governors; and
  • the Member State has in place a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA pursuant to which safeguards are to be applied to the LEU that is supplied through the IAEA LEU Bank.

The Member State must agree to a supply agreement with the IAEA and pay the full cost to re-stock the LEU stored in the Bank.

LEU leaving the Bank

Once the necessary contractual arrangements have been concluded with the IAEA and the recipient Member State has paid the IAEA, the Ulba Metallurgical Plant will prepare the LEU for shipment. The cylinders that contain the LEU have been designed for transportation and manufactured and tested according to international standards. The cylinders will leave the site by train and be transferred to a facility where the LEU can be converted into fuel.

The Member State supply agreement with the IAEA must specify that the LEU can only be used to make fuel for a power reactor. It cannot be used for the manufacture of any nuclear weapon or nuclear explosive device, or for research and development of any nuclear weapon or nuclear explosive device, or in such a way as to further any military purpose. The LEU cannot be enriched further, reprocessed, retransferred, or re-exported unless specifically agreed to by the IAEA. All relevant IAEA safeguards, safety standards and physical protection measures must apply to the LEU at all times.

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