International fuel bank set up

7 December 2010

The IAEA board of governors has authorised the establishment of a low-enriched uranium fuel bank.

Should an IAEA member state's LEU supply be disrupted, and the supply cannot be restored by the commercial market, state-to-state arrangements, or by any other such means, it may call upon the IAEA LEU bank to secure LEU supplies, without distorting the commercial market, the IAEA said.

On 27 November 2009, the IAEA Board of Governors approved the initiative of the Russian Federation to establish a reserve of LEU for the supply of LEU to the IAEA for its Member States. The fuel bank´s operator, Rosatom, announced on 1 December 2010 that the fuel bank stores 120 tonnes of low-enriched uranium.

The LEU will be made available to an eligible IAEA Member State at the market prices prevailing at the time of supply. The proceeds will then be utilized to replenish the stock of LEU in the IAEA LEU bank.

Donors have pledged about US$125 million and EUR 25 million to cover the initial estimated operational expenses and to the purchase and deliver LEU: $50 million from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, $49.5 million from the USA, up to EUR25 million from the EU, $10 million from the UAE, $10 million from Kuwait and $5 million from Norway.

The IAEA has set conditions for fuel supply: the member state must be experiencing a supply disruption, has demonstrated it is not diverting nuclear material to military purposes, and has brought a comprehensive safeguards agreement into force, and it will take on the liability for a nuclear incident involved in transporting and handling the fuel.

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