Nuclear fuel bank

Nuclear fuel bank

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A nuclear fuel bank is a proposed approach to provide countries access to enriched nuclear fuel
Nuclear fuel
Nuclear fuel is a material that can be 'consumed' by fission or fusion to derive nuclear energy. Nuclear fuels are the most dense sources of energy available...

, without the need for them to possess enrichment technology
Enriched uranium
Enriched uranium is a kind of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 has been increased through the process of isotope separation. Natural uranium is 99.284% 238U isotope, with 235U only constituting about 0.711% of its weight...

. The basic concept is that countries who do have enrichment technology would donate enriched fuel to a "bank", from which countries not possessing enrichment technology would obtain fuel for their power reactors
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

.

The concept of providing an assured supply of nuclear fuel and thus avoiding the need for countries to build indigenous nuclear fuel production capability has long been proposed as a way to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons and, eventually, eliminate them altogether. Austria, Russia, the European Union, the United States, and others have supported various concepts of an international fuel bank. Many non-nuclear-weapon states have been reluctant to embrace any of these proposals for varying reasons.

Overview


Enrichment technology is primarily used to create enriched nuclear fuel, but it can also be used to create weapons-grade nuclear material
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

. The main goal of a fuel bank is therefore to minimize the risk of further nuclear weapons proliferation
Nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

 by removing the need for countries to possess enrichment technology.

The proposed fuel bank would assure a back-up supply for power reactors throughout the world on a non-discriminatory, non-political basis, reducing the need for countries to develop their own uranium enrichment technologies at a time when concerns about nuclear proliferation are growing. The IAEA's former chairman Dr. ElBaradei confirmed this, saying that the importance of nuclear fuel banks is "by providing reliable access to fuel at competitive market prices, we remove the need for countries to develop indigenous fuel cycle capabilities. In so doing, we could go a long way towards addressing current concerns about the dissemination of sensitive fuel cycle technologies."

Need


Dr. ElBaradei, who was director of the International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 from 1997 to 2009, called for the establishment of a nuclear fuel bank to provide peaceful access to nuclear energy without raising questions about dual-use technology. "Every country that would like to get the fuel, that would like to get the technology, the reactor, will get that, but not necessarily developing their own enrichment facility. And assurance of supply mechanism should be reliable, should be apolitical, should be based solely on non-proliferation criteria," he said. In his acceptance of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

, Dr. ElBaradei also said the establishment of an international fuel bank would remove the incentive for each country to develop its own fuel cycle. "We should then be able to agree on a moratorium on new national facilities, and to begin work on multinational arrangements for enrichment, fuel production, waste disposal and reprocessing," he said.

Joseph Cirincione
Joseph Cirincione
Joseph Cirincione is the President of the Ploughshares Fund, a public grant-making foundation focused on nuclear weapons policy and conflict resolution. He was appointed to the presidency by the Ploughshares board of directors on March 5, 2008...

, the director of the nonproliferation program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a foreign-policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. The organization describes itself as being dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States...

, says that an international fuel bank could start reforms at the international level. "If we handle it properly, Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 might be the trigger for resolving this problem that troubles all nations relying on nuclear power. Iran, ironically, could be the catalyst for creating a fundamentally new system of how we produce and sell nuclear fuel," he said.

U.S. Senators Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh
Evan Bayh
Birch Evans "Evan" Bayh III is a lawyer, advisor and former Democratic politician who served as the junior U.S. Senator from Indiana from 1999 to 2011. He earlier served as the 46th Governor of Indiana from 1989 to 1997. Bayh is a current Fox News contributor as of March 14, 2011.Bayh first held...

, both of Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, have also advocated for a nuclear fuel bank. In an op-ed published in the Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

, they wrote that what is needed is "a new international non-proliferation standard that prevents countries from using the guise of nuclear energy to develop nuclear weapons". Lugar and Bayh argued this was imperative because "the coming surge in demand for nuclear power will lead more and more nations to seek their own enrichment facilities", and jointly called for the establishment of an International Nuclear Fuel Bank, controlled by the International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

.

In 2009, the formation of a nuclear fuel bank was endorsed by U.S. President Barack Obama in a speech in Prague: "And we should build a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation, including an International Fuel Bank, so that countries can access peaceful power without increasing the risk of proliferation. That must be the right of every national that renounces nuclear weapons, especially for developing countries embarking on peaceful programs."

Controversy


Developing nations, including a number in the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

, have expressed reservations about mechanisms for assurance of supply and have been critical of additional criteria for accessing the fuel banks.

Some reasons that non-nuclear weapon states have been reluctant to embrace these proposals include:
  • a perception that the commercial or strategic interests of nuclear weapon states motivated the proposals
  • a perception that the proposals produce a dependency on a limited number of nuclear fuel suppliers
  • a perception that the proposal restricts their unalienable right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.


One example of such a feared political-cutoff came after the 1979 Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

. Germany halted construction of the Iranian Bushehr reactor
Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant
The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power plant in Iran southeast of the city of Bushehr, between the fishing villages of Halileh and Bandargeh along the Persian Gulf. The plant is located at the junction of three tectonic plates....

, the United States cut off the supply of highly-enriched fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, and Iran never received uranium from France which it asserted it was entitled to. Russia also agreed not to provide an enrichment plant and terminated cooperation on several other nuclear-related technologies, including laser isotope separation. China terminated several nuclear projects in return in part for entry into force of a U.S.-China civil nuclear cooperation agreement. Ukraine agreed not to provide the turbine for the Bushehr reactor. These combined experiences contributed to an Iranian belief that foreign nuclear supplies are potentially subject to being interrupted. An international nuclear fuel bank would have to overcome this perception.

1940–1969


The Report on the International Control of Atomic Energy, commonly known as the Acheson–Lilienthal Report, was written by a United States committee in 1946 and discussed possible methods for the international control of nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s and the avoidance of future nuclear warfare
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is detonated on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage...

. The report was produced by the Committee on Atomic Energy, headed by Dean Acheson
Dean Acheson
Dean Gooderham Acheson was an American statesman and lawyer. As United States Secretary of State in the administration of President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953, he played a central role in defining American foreign policy during the Cold War...

 and David Lilienthal
David Lilienthal
David Eli Lilienthal was an American public official who served in many different governmental roles over the course of his career...

, and was mostly written by scientist Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Oppenheimer
Julius Robert Oppenheimer was an American theoretical physicist and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. Along with Enrico Fermi, he is often called the "father of the atomic bomb" for his role in the Manhattan Project, the World War II project that developed the first...

. The report recommended that an international body, such as the United Nations, have control over both atomic materials and the means of producing nuclear energy.
Bruno Pellaud, the IAEA's former deputy director-general for safeguards, says the fuel bank idea was developed as far back as 1957.

The resulting Baruch Plan
Baruch Plan
The Baruch Plan was a proposal by the United States government, written largely by Bernard Baruch but based on the Acheson–Lilienthal Report, to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission in its first meeting in June 1946...

 was a 1946 proposal by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 government, written largely by political consultant Bernard Baruch
Bernard Baruch
Bernard Mannes Baruch was an American financier, stock-market speculator, statesman, and political consultant. After his success in business, he devoted his time toward advising U.S. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt on economic matters and became a philanthropist.-Early life...

. It was presented to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission
United Nations Atomic Energy Commission
The United Nations Atomic Energy Commission was founded on 24 January 1946 by Resolution 1 of the United Nations General Assembly "to deal with the problems raised by the discovery of atomic energy."...

 (UNAEC) at its first meeting in June 1946. The plan proposed to:
  1. extend between all nations the exchange of basic scientific information for peaceful ends;
  2. implement control of atomic energy
    Nuclear power
    Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

     to the extent necessary to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes;
  3. eliminate from national armaments both atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction; and
  4. establish effective safeguards, by way of inspection and other means, to protect complying States against the hazards of violations and evasions

The plan clearly announced that the United States would maintain its nuclear weapons monopoly until every aspect of the proposal was in effect. The Soviets subsequently rejected the Baruch Plan, and the United States then rejected a Soviet counter-proposal for a ban on all nuclear weapons.

In 1953, the U.S. proposed its Atoms for Peace
Atoms for Peace
"Atoms for Peace" was the title of a speech delivered by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the UN General Assembly in New York City on December 8, 1953....

 plan. In a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York City on December 8, 1953, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 called on the United States with the Soviet Union "to make joint contributions from their stockpiles of normal uranium and fissionable materials to an international Atomic Energy Agency" that would then "devise methods whereby this fissionable material would be allocated to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind." The plan also proposed a new International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 and “uranium bank” as simple steps to establish international trust and start a cooperative arms control dialogue.

On July 29, 1957 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was established. However, the concept that the IAEA would serve as a bank of nuclear materials, drawing down US and Soviet stocks below the level where either could launch a knock-out blow against the other, languished. During this period the U.S. Congress preferred to supply nuclear material directly to foreign partners in bilateral agreements, thus bypassing the IAEA and applying U.S. safeguards to the transaction instead. It became clear that having the IAEA serve as a nuclear material bank had not succeeded in the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

1970–1989


Through the 1970s and 1980s, further options were examined for developing a "proliferation-resistant" fuel cycle. The managerial aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle were also explored during this time and a number of unsuccessful proposals were advanced. Some of the proposals included initiatives on:
  • Technical or physical modification of the fuel cycle to restrict access to sensitive nuclear materials
  • Multilateral fuel cycle centers for a small number of States to pool their resources in to a single centre
  • Multinational spent fuel centers as a way to handle separated plutonium;
  • An international nuclear fuel authority to guarantee nuclear fuel to Non-Nuclear Weapon States which renounced national reprocessing or enrichment plants
  • International plutonium storage to help implement Article XII. A.5 of the IAEA Statute


In the late 1970s, the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation conducted a study into the management of spent nuclear fuel
Spent nuclear fuel
Spent nuclear fuel, occasionally called used nuclear fuel, is nuclear fuel that has been irradiated in a nuclear reactor...

. The IAEA's "Working Group 6" issued a report on spent fuel management which identified interim storage of spent fuel as an important step in the nuclear fuel cycle. An earlier IAEA study on Regional Fuel Cycle Centre from 1977 has also pointed out the importance of spent fuel. The fuel cycle evaluation was formally launched in October 1977 by the Carter Administration
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

, with more than 500 experts from 46 nations participating.

The IAEA Board of Governors subsequently established the Committee on Assurances of Supply (CAS) in 1980 to address similar concerns. The Committee examined the issue of multinationalization of the fuel cycle, but was unable to reach a consensus and went into formal abeyance in 1987.

IAEA Expert Group


Former IAEA Director General Dr. ElBaradei gave an international expert group the task of coming up with possible multilateral approaches to better control the sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle. Dr. ElBaradei said that in recent years the nuclear non-proliferation regime has been under tremendous stress and noted the key is fairness and recognizing the interests of all parties. He also said that a lack of progress in confronting the growing risk of nuclear proliferation "could lead to self-destruction".

The group made the following recommendations to strengthen controls over fuel enrichment, reprocessing of fuel
Nuclear reprocessing
Nuclear reprocessing technology was developed to chemically separate and recover fissionable plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel. Reprocessing serves multiple purposes, whose relative importance has changed over time. Originally reprocessing was used solely to extract plutonium for producing...

, spent fuel repositories and spent fuel storage
Spent nuclear fuel storage
Spent nuclear fuel storage can refer to:*Dry cask storage*Spent fuel pool...

. They were:
  1. Reinforcing existing commercial market mechanisms on a case-by-case basis
  2. Developing and implementing international supply guarantees with IAEA participation
  3. Promoting voluntary conversion of existing facilities to multilateral nuclear approaches
  4. Creating, through voluntary agreements and contracts, multinational, and in particular regional, MNAs for new facilities
  5. The scenario of a further expansion of nuclear energy around the world might call for the development of a nuclear fuel cycle with stronger multilateral arrangements


The Expert Group included representatives from 26 countries. Bruno Pellaud, the Group's Chairman and former Head of IAEA Safeguards, said “a joint nuclear facility with multinational staff puts all participants under a greater scrutiny from peers and partners, a fact that strengthens non-proliferation and security…Moreover, they have the potential to facilitate the continued use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes."

Proposals


A fuel bank would act as a back-up supply for nuclear power reactors throughout the world on a non-discriminatory and apolitical basis, reducing the need for countries to develop their own uranium enrichment technologies at a time when concerns about nuclear proliferation are growing. Government and industry experts agree the fuel market functions well in meeting current demand, and a fuel bank would be designed inherently in a way not to disrupt the existing commercial market in nuclear fuels. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the IAEA from 1997 to 2009, has also suggested that no State should be required to give up its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty regarding any parts of the nuclear fuel cycle.

In March 2008, an IAEA magazine outlined 12 proposals for a multilateral approach that had been put forward. The proposals ranged from providing backup assurances of supply to establishing an IAEA-controlled low-enriched uranium reserve or setting up international enrichment centers.

In May 2009, three proposals were recommended as the form an international fuel bank should take. Two proposals were for Russian and IAEA fuel banks to provide supply of last resort and were initially proposed by Dr. ElBaradei in 2003. Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 put forward a complementary proposal which advocated the creation of an internationally-governed nuclear fuel production plant where production would be done in an extraterritorial site inside an unspecified country.

Over 60 states, many of them developing nations, have informed the International Atomic Energy Agency that they have an interest in launching nuclear energy programs. However, some of these states have expressed concerns that they would lose all access to enrichment and reprocessing technology if they were to accept fuel from a fuel bank.

German proposal


Germany has proposed the creation of a multilateral uranium enrichment center with extraterritorial status, which would operate on a commercial basis as a new supplier in the market. The center would operate under Agency control and providing enrichment services to its customer. Customers could then obtain nuclear fuel for civilian use under strict supervision. Germany has also proposed a “Multilateral Enrichment Sanctuary Project” for an international enrichment center by a group of interested States, on an extraterritorial basis in a host State.

Kazakhstan has been considering hosting a site such as the one that the Germans are proposing. "If a nuclear fuel bank for nuclear energy was created, then Kazakhstan would consider hosting it," Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev
Nursultan Nazarbayev
Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev has served as the President of Kazakhstan since the nation received its independence in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union...

 has proposed. "We cannot have divides where some own nuclear technology and others not," Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian diplomat and nonproliferation expert Mohamad Shaker countered. "Have-nots" must have an equal role in any technology consortiums, he said.

NTI funding proposal


The Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative's proposal for an international fuel bank announced an initial $50 million grant to the IAEA contingent upon an additional $100 million from other sources. The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 has offered $50 million, the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

 has pledged $10 million, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 has promised $5 million and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 agreed to provide up to 25 million euros (about $32 million in May 2009). The fuel bank therefore reached its initial funding target in March 2009.

Former Senator Sam Nunn
Sam Nunn
Samuel Augustus Nunn, Jr. is an American lawyer and politician. Currently the co-chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative , a charitable organization working to reduce the global threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, Nunn served for 24 years as a...

, a co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, said in a speech announcing the NTI pledge that "we envision that this stockpile will be available as a last-resort fuel reserve for nations that have made the sovereign choice to develop their nuclear energy based on foreign sources of fuel supply services-and therefore have no indigenous enrichment facilities." Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett
Warren Edward Buffett is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world. Often introduced as "legendary investor, Warren Buffett", he is the primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is...

, a key NTI advisor, is financially backing and enabling the commitment. "This pledge is an investment in a safer world," Buffett said.

Countries that already enrich uranium favor the fuel bank because it keeps competitors from entering the market. Some emerging-market countries on the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors have resisted the proposal. “It simply seems a real battlefield,” Iran’s IAEA ambassador, Aliasghar Soltanieh, said. “It’s an issue of trust, and there’s been a lot of fraying of relationships between IAEA states,” said Curtis, Deputy Secretary of Energy under President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

. "We think that (Kazakh President) Nursultan Nazarbayev's idea to host a nuclear fuel bank is a very good proposal," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said. Iran has said it may stop sensitive uranium enrichment if guaranteed a supply of nuclear fuel from abroad, but has also insisted on its right to master the complete nuclear fuel cycle for what it says are peaceful purposes. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Tehran places importance on international nuclear cooperation, including "Iran's presence in the global fuel bank." Iran has resisted sending its low-enriched uranium abroad and has proposed the IAEA supervise uranium enrichment inside the country.

Russian proposal


Sergey Kiriyenko, head of Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom, has told the IAEA General Conference that Russia planned to put under IAEA control a reserve of $300 million worth of low enriched uranium. The fuel would be stored at a multinational uranium-enrichment facility in the Siberian city of Angarsk
Angarsk
Angarsk is a city in Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, situated on the Angara River, from Moscow. It serves as the administrative center of Angarsky District, although it is not administratively a part of it. Population:...

 and would be sufficient for two reactor-loads of low-enriched uranium. “We should carry out the preparatory work required for the IAEA Director-General to propose to the IAEA Board of Governors that they consider Russia’s plans for establishing guaranteed nuclear fuel reserves in the first half of 2008,” Kiriyenko said. He further said that Russia is ready to process 4,000 tons of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n uranium a year.

Russia established its International Uranium Enrichment Center (IUEC) at the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Combine “to provide guaranteed access to uranium enrichment capabilities to the Centre’s participating organizations”. On 10 May 2007 the first agreement in the framework of the IUEC was signed by the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan. In November 2009, the IAEA Board of Governors approved the Russian proposal to set up a low enriched uranium reserve available to Member States upon request from the Agency. Russia and the IAEA agreed on March 30, 2010 to set up the world's first nuclear fuel bank, at Angarsk
Angarsk
Angarsk is a city in Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, situated on the Angara River, from Moscow. It serves as the administrative center of Angarsky District, although it is not administratively a part of it. Population:...

 in Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

.

Six-Country Concept


The "Six-Country Concept" was proposed by France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, the UK, and the U.S. to provide reliable access to nuclear fuel. In 2008, all six of these nations had enrichment facilities. The proposal would require customer states to forego sensitive indigenous nuclear facilities, and if a supply disruption were to occur the recipient country would be able to approach the IAEA to facilitate new arrangements with other suppliers as long as nonproliferation conditions had been met – these conditions would include implementation of the Additional Protocol and safety and protection standards being satisfied.

The six nations proposed two levels of enrichment assurance beyond the normal market. At the “basic assurances” level, suppliers would agree to substitute for each other to cover certain supply interruptions to customers. At the “reserves” assurance level, participating governments could provide physical or virtual reserves of low-enriched uranium that would be made available if the “basic assurances” were not met.

Other proposals


Other proposals for a nuclear fuel bank have included:
  • U.S. – "Reserve of nuclear fuel", September 2005
  • Russia – "Statement on the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy", February 2006
  • U.S. – "Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
    Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
    The International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation formerly the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership began as a U.S. proposal, announced by United States Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman on February 6, 2006, to form an international partnership to promote the use of nuclear power and close...

    ", February 2006
  • World Nuclear Association
    World Nuclear Association
    The World Nuclear Association , formerly the Uranium Institute, is an international organization that promotes nuclear power and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry...

    , "Ensuring Security of Supply in the International Fuel Cycle", 2006
  • Japan – "IAEA Standby Arrangements System for the Assurance of Nuclear Fuel Supply", September 2006
  • UK – "Enrichment Bonds", June 2007
  • European Union – "Nuclear Fuel Cycle", June 2007

Recent developments


The topic of a nuclear fuel bank was briefly mentioned by some members attending the Nuclear Security Summit (2010), a summit
Summit (meeting)
A summit meeting is a meeting of heads of state or government, usually with considerable media exposure, tight security and a prearranged agenda.Notable summit meetings include those of Franklin D...

 being held in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 in April 2010 focusing on how to better safeguard weapons-grade
Weapons-grade
A weapons-grade substance is one that is pure enough to be used to make a weapon or has properties that make it suitable for weapons use. Weapons-grade plutonium and uranium are the most common examples, but it may also be used to refer to chemical and biological weapons...

 plutonium
Plutonium
Plutonium is a transuranic radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol Pu and atomic number 94. It is an actinide metal of silvery-gray appearance that tarnishes when exposed to air, forming a dull coating when oxidized. The element normally exhibits six allotropes and four oxidation...

 and uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 to prevent nuclear terrorism
Nuclear terrorism
Nuclear terrorism denotes the use, or threat of the use, of nuclear weapons or radiological weapons in acts of terrorism, includingattacks against facilities where radioactive materials are present...

.

Robert J. Einhorn, Special US Advisor on Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, said the Obama Administration has supported international fuel banks but that "this issue will come up at the May NPT Review Conference, but this is not the focus of" the Nuclear Security Summit. Despite the focus on nuclear terrorism, President of Kazakhstan
President of Kazakhstan
President of Kazakhstan is the head of state, supreme commander-in-chief and holder of the highest office within the Kazakhstan. The authorities of this position are described in special section of Constitution of Kazakhstan....

 Nursultan Nazarbayev
Nursultan Nazarbayev
Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev has served as the President of Kazakhstan since the nation received its independence in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union...

 sought the U.S.'s backing to house a nuclear fuel bank while he was in Washington for the event and Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister of Pakistan
The Prime Minister of Pakistan , is the Head of Government of Pakistan who is designated to exercise as the country's Chief Executive. By the Constitution of Pakistan, Pakistan has the parliamentary democratic system of government...

 Yousaf Raza Gillani
Yousaf Raza Gillani
Yousuf Raza Gilani is the current prime minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He was nominated as Prime Minister by the PPP, with the support of its coalition partners, Pakistan Muslim League , Awami National Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and Muttahida Qaumi Movement, on 22 March 2008...

 issued a statement saying Pakistan would like to act as a provider and "participate in any non-discriminatory nuclear fuel cycle assurance mechanism". The UAE also reconfirmed its $10 million pledge to the IAEA Nuclear Fuel Bank and its policy of foregoing domestic enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing.

See also

  • Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
    Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
    The International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation formerly the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership began as a U.S. proposal, announced by United States Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman on February 6, 2006, to form an international partnership to promote the use of nuclear power and close...

  • Nuclear proliferation
    Nuclear proliferation
    Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

  • Nuclear reactor technology
  • Nuclear renaissance
    Nuclear renaissance
    Since about 2001 the term nuclear renaissance has been used to refer to a possible nuclear power industry revival, driven by rising fossil fuel prices and new concerns about meeting greenhouse gas emission limits. At the same time, various barriers to a nuclear renaissance have been identified...


IAEA


Others