Statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Low Enriched Uranium Bank.

Representatives from around the globe are gathered in Astana, Kazakhstan, to launch the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank. Through this initiative, Member States of the IAEA will be able to access a ready reserve of nuclear material for fueling peaceful power reactors should they have difficulties securing such material on the international market.  The IAEA and its Member States have worked tirelessly for many years to realize the fruition of this common goal.  The Government of Kazakhstan, by volunteering to host the LEU Bank, which was first conceived and funded by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, has further cemented its reputation as a world leader in promoting nonproliferation and nuclear security.

In Prague in 2009, President Obama called for the development of an international fuel bank to ensure all countries could access peaceful nuclear power without increasing the risks of proliferation.  In 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the American Assured Fuel Supply, a reserve stockpile of nuclear power reactor fuel material created by down-blending surplus highly enriched uranium from the U.S. weapons program.  The American Assured Fuel Supply, along with similar programs by the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom, complement the IAEA’s LEU Bank and, taken together, give countries that are pursuing peaceful nuclear power programs a reliable supply of material for power reactor fuel in case of market disruptions.  This helps reduce the incentives for countries to develop costly and concerning domestic programs to enrich uranium for their reactors.

The President appreciates President Nazarbayev’s important leadership on nonproliferation spanning more than two decades.