International Atomic Energy Agency opens uranium bank of last resort in Kazakhstan

International Atomic Energy Agency opens uranium bank of last resort in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan will open the world’s first Low Enriched Uranium Bank in Oskemen today. The International Atomic Energy Agency launched the

Kazakhstan will open the world’s first Low Enriched Uranium Bank in Oskemen today. The International Atomic Energy Agency launched the project in 2010.

The bank will serve as a source of last resort for low-enriched uranium when IAEA members are unable to either produce it or if it becomes unavailable on the international market for whatever reason. The bank will hold 90 tons of uranium—enough to power a large reactor for three years—and member states that withdraw from the bank will cover the cost of restocking.

This function will help non-proliferation efforts. By providing uranium, it will disincentivise countries from developing their own uranium enrichment capacities—as even supposedly peaceful programs could see uranium enriched to a weapons-grade level. The bank seeks to ensure that in the event of an international crisis or similar circumstances, countries dependent on nuclear power would still have access to uranium.

Of course, the IAEA will have to wait and see if the project works as well in practice as they believe it to in theory. But if it does, it could change the world’s nuclear landscape.

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