On 18 October 2019 Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry published an official announcement that the first batch of low enriched uranium was delivered to the Low Enriched Uranium Bank (LEU) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Ust-Kamenogorsk, East Kazakhstan region.
The LEU bank will store 90 metric tonnes of uranium hexafluoride suitable for production of fuel for a conventional light-water reactor at nuclear power plants. The suppliers for the IAEA LEU Bank are Kazakhstan’s National Atomic Company Kazatomprom JSC and France’s Orano Cycle. Reportedly, the LEU reserve is not a radioactive waste poses no threat to the local population and the environment and serves as backup material for the IAEA member states that face shortage of traditional fuel supplies for political reasons.
The agreement on the establishment of the IAEA LEU Bank was signed by Kazakhstan’s leadership and the IAEA in August 2015 in Nur-Sultan, while the Bank was declared operational two years later. Several ISTC State Parties – the US, the European Union and Norway – are among the major donors for this important international project that constitutes a concerted multilateral initiative in the field of non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy. On its part ISTC Secretariat maintains partnership links and conducts projects on export control and nuclear safety with Ulba Metallurgical Plant that hosts the LEU Bank in Ust-Kamenogorsk.