ASTANA – Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev inaugurated on Tuesday the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Low Enriched Uranium Bank in the Kazakh city of Oskemen.
Nazarbayev handed over the building’s keys to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and proposed holding a world summit on nuclear security in Astana, the capital of the Central Asian country.
“A summit was held because of a United States initiative. Kazakhstan is ready to initiate the renewal of the global nuclear security summit,” the Kazakh president said, expressing concern about the current international situation and calling for a solution among all states with nuclear capabilities.
“I propose to legalize the status of all de facto nuclear states and convene a summit of nuclear countries to jointly discuss the solution to this global problem,” Nazarbayev said.
Nazarbayev also referred to the US sanctions imposed on Russia, saying they were a concern for all humanity, as “this leads to increased tensions between the two leading nuclear states in the world.”
Amano praised the “generous financial contributions” that have made the opening of the LEU Bank possible.
“I am very grateful to all donors: the United States, the European Union, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Norway, Kazakhstan and the Nuclear Threat Initiative,” the IAEA director general said, adding that “the LEU Bank will make a valuable contribution to international efforts to ensure the existence of fuel for nuclear plants.”
Kazakh Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev said the bank would contribute to nuclear disarmament.
“The creation of the Low Enriched Uranium Bank is a significant contribution by our country to nuclear disarmament and the strengthening of international security,” Bozumbayev said.
The LEU Bank seeks to provide a fuel reserve for IAEA member states at market prices as a last resort should they not be able to obtain low-enriched uranium to generate energy on the international market.
The IAEA decided in 2006 to establish a low-enriched uranium bank and in 2011 Kazakhstan offered to host the facility on its territory at the Ulba metallurgy plant in the eastern city of Oskemen.
In 1991, Nazarbayev closed Semipalatinsk, the world’s second-largest nuclear test site, and gave up the world’s fourth-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, which the Central Asian country inherited from the Soviet Union.
The LEU’s opening coincided with the International Day against Nuclear Tests.