- Title: UN nuclear watchdog to open uranium bank which may have no clients
- Date: 11th July 2017
- Summary: OSKEMEN, KAZAKHSTAN (RECENT) (REUTERS) CARS DRIVING ON STREET / ULBA METALLURGICAL PLANT IN BACKGROUND SIGN ON STREET READING: "ULBA" VARIOUS OF LOW-ENRICHED URANIUM STORAGE SIGN ON CONTAINER READING: "RADIOACTIVE" JOURNALISTS INSIDE STORAGE METAL FENCE / STORAGE WITH CONTAINERS CONTAINERS (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ULBA METALLURGICAL PLANT SALES DIRECTOR, ALEXANDER KHODANOV, SAYING: "60 cylinders of 30B type will be stored in the bank, which equals about 90 tonnes of uranium. This amount of material is enough to produce the fuel to load one standard 1000 Megawatt nuclear reactor." VARIOUS OF FACILITY'S INTERIORS VARIOUS OF STAFF FIXING EQUIPMENT (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ULBA METALLURGICAL PLANT SALES DIRECTOR, ALEXANDER KHODANOV, SAYING: "Half a year will be enough to ensure (raw) material delivery and production of fuel. As a rule, the timetable of fuel production is made in advance. IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) will buy and transport the material. Kazakhstan will only cover the cost of the material storage and the (uranium) bank's operation." TRAIN MOVING THROUGH STORAGE MOVING METAL STRUCTURE ON CEILING WORKER PREPARING CONTAINER FOR TRANSPORTATION CONTAINERS BEING TRANSPORTED (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ULBA METALLURGICAL PLANT SALES DIRECTOR, ALEXANDER KHODANOV, SAYING: "Ukraine does not possess technology of material's enrichment. In order to produce fuel one must have low enriched uranium hexafluoride. Only in the case if Ukraine cannot buy this material at the commercial market, though currently there is enough of it there, it can approach IAEA and buy this material and then produce fuel from it." VIEW OF FACILITY INTERIOR SIGN READING (Russian): "ATTENTION. INCREASED LEVEL OF RADIOACTIVITY" VARIOUS OF EQUIPMENT CONTAINERS SIGN ON CONTAINER READING: "RADIOACTIVE" MINIATURE OF FACILITY SIGN ON MINIATURE OF FACILITY READING (Kazakh): "IAEA KAZAKHSTAN" MINIATURE OF EQUIPMENT VARIOUS OF STORAGE FACILITY OUTSIDE BUILDING
- Embargoed: 25th July 2017 10:33
- Keywords: Kazakhstan uranium bank nuclear low-enriched uranium IAEA
- Location: OSKEMEN, KAZAKHSTAN
- City: OSKEMEN, KAZAKHSTAN
- Country: Kazakhstan
- Topics: Government/Politics,International Trade
- Reuters ID: LVA0016P9VSQV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:The U.N. global nuclear watchdog is about to open a uranium bank in the Central Asian state of Kazakhstan, but it may never have any customers.
The raw material used to make nuclear fuel and atomic bombs will be stored in a Soviet-era industrial plant where security was once considered so lax that all the highly enriched uranium kept there was removed in a covert U.S. operation in 1994.
The International Atomic Energy Agency's goal now is the same as Washington's 23 years ago as it prepares for next month's launch of its Low Enriched Uranium Bank in the city of Oskemen -- to prevent nuclear proliferation.
But this time there will be no weapons-grade uranium involved and in the best-case scenario the $150-million bank will never need to be used.
IAEA member states will be able to "draw" low-enriched uranium at market prices if supplies of fuel to a nuclear power plant are disrupted "due to exceptional circumstances", but the bank will be a lender of last resort.
The aim is to discourage nations from spending time and money on developing nuclear-enrichment technologies that might be used to purify uranium to weapons-grade levels, and to deter countries from trying to obtain uranium illegally.
The IAEA wants to have a means to avert any new dispute similar to the standoff over Iran's atomic programme before world powers reached a deal with Tehran to limit its nuclear activities.
Funding to build the low-enriched uranium bank in eastern Kazakhstan, about 1,000 km (620 miles) from the capital Astana, came from several countries including the United States, and U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett contributed $50 million.
Based in a small industrial building on the territory of the Ulba Metallurgical Plant (UMP), set up in the 1940s to produce components for the Soviet nuclear arms programme, the bank will store up to 90 tonnes of low-enriched uranium - enough for a light-water reactor to power a large city for three years.
Security will be tight. The bank, which has its own railway terminal, is surrounded by a metal netting fence that is about 3.5 meters high and packed with security cameras.
Kazakhstan was a logical choice as host because it is the world's biggest producer of uranium.
Uranium hexafluoride - a highly toxic, white-grey, waxy solid used in the enrichment process --will be stored at the bank in 60 cylinder-shaped containers. It cannot immediately be turned into fuel, a process which would take several months.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None